[b-greek] Re: the intent of Mk. 14:38

From: Glenn Blank (glennblank@earthlink.net)
Date: Fri Jun 01 2001 - 16:26:57 EDT

I had written,

>> > What is explicit in the text [Mark 1:13] is that Satan is
>> > presented as the agent of PEIRAZAMENOS (hUPO SATANA), and from Matthew
>> > Luke we learn that the PEIRASMOS involved enticement to do evil. That
>> > to me to be the definition of "temptation."
>> >

Jeffrey answered,
>> It may be what the definition of temptation is. But the question is
whether or not
>> "temptation" is an adequate or justified translation of PEIRASMOS!

Iver asked,

>But, if PEIRASMOS should never be translated "temptation" as you seem to
suggest, what
>then is the Greek word for temptation? Is there no such concept in the
Greek NT? Or are
>you only suggesting that in this verse and context, PEIRASMOS should not be
translated as

Quite a bit of our discussion has revolved around James 1, with its seeming
tension between the result of patience and perfecting and the result of and
of sin and death. The word DOKIMION occurs in James 1:1 (hOTI TO DOKIMION
hUMIN TAHS PISTEWS KATERHAZETAI hUPOMONHN "that the trying of your faith
worketh patience") Is this an exact equivalent of PEIRASMON? It seems to
me that DOKIMION *only* occurs in contexts that involve a proving of one's
faith[fulness], whereas PEIRASMON can occur in those contexts but also in
contexts that involve an enticement (whatever color horse one takes
"enticement" to be) to do evil, with an actual intent of getting the person
to do evil. If I am correct (and I have only consulted Thayers at this
point), then the notion of "temptation" in Greek would fall under the
semantic range of PEIRSMON along with the notion of "proving," while
DOKIMION *only* conveys "proving."

Perhaps this line of thinking also is relevant to Stephen's conundrum (I
hope I have attributed this quote to the right person -- I apologize if I've
gotten the threads crossed):

>> On the other hand, I still have the difficulty with the
>> standard interpretation, that James would unexpectantly
>> and without real explanation shift the meaning of PEIRAZOMAI
>> from testing to temptation.

The interplay between PEIRASMON and DOKIMION may supply the answer to this
riddle. That is, a PEIRASMON (verse 2) is only a DOKIMION (verse 3) as long
as the PEIRASMON is not acted upon, and as a DOKIMION, it results in
patience and perfecting (verses 3-4). The same interplay occurs in verse
12: "blessed is the man that hUPOMENEI PEIRASMON, for when he is DOKIMOS,
he will receive a crown of life." This seems to imply that a PEIRASMON
remains only a DOKIMION as long as it is hUPOMENHQH.

But, when a man is "drawn away of his own lust and enticed," then PEIRASMON
becomes PEIRASMON in the "temptation" sense of the word (verse 14). It is
at *this* point, when lust is conceived, that the result is sin and
ultimately death (verse 15). I take this phrase hH EPIQUMIA SULLABOUSA to
indicate that something has come into being that was not there before: that
is, that the PEIRA- in verse 14 has taken on an aspect that was not a part
of verses 2 and 12.

It is in this context that verse 13 begins to make sense to me. I take APO
in v 13 to be neither agentive or "apart from" as has been previously
proposed, but "away from." James has just listed the reasons why PEIRASMON
can be beneficial. But what of the danger of PEIRASMON leading someone
"away from" God? To paraphrase,

   "Don't let any man say, when he is PEIRAZOMENOS, that he is PEIRAZAMONES
*away from* God. Why not? Because God is APEIRASTOS *KAKWN* -- neither
does he PEIRAZEI [*KAKWN*] anyone. It is only when the PEIRASMON is mixed
with one's own desires to conceive lust that the PEIRASMON takes on its
temptation aspect, which if continued to be entertained leads to sins, which
leads to death [ie, separation from God?]

A couple of comments on verse 13. First, the adjective APEIRA[S]TOS, unlike
PEIRASMON, seems to occur only in contexts involving temptation
("untemptable") not in contexts to mean "without testing"? This I have not
investigated: James 1:13 is its only occurrence in the NT, and I have found
it only a couple of times in Josephus. I would be curious to know more
about it with regard to this hypothesis, and whether its positive
counterpart, ?PEIRATOS? ever occurs.

Secondly, I am taking PEIRAZEI DE AOUTOS OUDENA to be parallel in thought to
hO GAR QEOS APEIRASTOS ESTIN KAKWN, with the absence of KAKWN in the second
clause to be an ellipsis of the first clause.

IMO, then,

1) the interaction between PEIRASMON and DOKIMION highlights the "testing"
aspect of PEIRASMON in verses 1-12

2) the introduction of KAKWN in verse 13 (along with the more narrow focus
of APEIRASTOS as opposed to PEIRASMON and the explanation of the role of
lust in the process) is justification for seeing a shift in James' use of
the word PEIRASMON from "testing" to "temptation" and

3) his reason for making this shift is the question raised in verse 13 about
whether PEIRASMON can lead a person "away from" God.

And finally, coming back in summary to Iver's point, I propose that
DOKIMION and PEIRASMON are synonyms but not identical equivalents, in that
DOKIMION has within its semantic range only the notion of "testing" while
PEIRASMON brooks the possibility of both "testing" and "temptation." This
relationship between the two words seems to be borne out in the interplay
between the two in James 1.

Sorry this got so long. But your thesis, Jeffrey, has certainly given me a
deeper appreciation of PEIRASMON and its ramifications.

glenn blank
Pensacola FL

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