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

From: Stephen C. Carlson (scarlson@mindspring.com)
Date: Sat Jun 02 2001 - 10:22:52 EDT

At 01:26 PM 6/1/01 -0700, Glenn Blank wrote:
>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.

It seems that I have to explain my objection more clearly, since
neither you nor Paul seems to see the force in it.

In James 1:2 and 12, PEIRASMOIS clearly refers to a testing, not
to temptation. Verse 12: "Blessed is the man who withstands
testing, because he has become worthy to receive the crown of
life that was promised to those who love him."

But immediately in verse 13, James says: MHDEIS PEIRAZOMENOS
LEGETW hOTI APO QEOU PEIRAZOMAI... Verses 14-15 have not yet
been heard when this letter is read aloud and there is nothing
in verse 13 that signals any change in meaning of PEIRAZOMAI
for the listener.

I find it hard to believe that author of the epistle is now
talking about temptation when this concept has not been introduced
in any way. Rather, I find it easier to believe that PEIRAZOMAI
continues to refer to testing, and I have offered an interpretation
of verses 14-15 that comports with PEIRAZOMAI as testing (i.e.
the rich, too, are being tested when they are enticed by their
own lusts and desires). As a Christianity got richer, they began
to identify more with the testing of the well-off (which we now
place under the concept of temptation) than with the testing of
the poor (which we would now place under the sphere of persecution).
Thus, I view verses 14-15 as the origin of our concept of temptation
as enticement to sin, but I think it would be anachronistic to
ascribe that to James. The epistle is merely enumerating another
kind of testing, and verse 13 remains concerned with a generic
testing, not temptation.

Let me wrap with a response to a comment from Paul Dixon:

At 09:28 AM 6/1/01 -0700, dixonps@juno.com wrote:
>It seems the change from the trials of v. 2 (where the testing is viewed
>as from God and for our good) to the PEIRAZETAI of v. 14 (done when one
>is drawn up by his own lusts and enticed resulting in sin and death) is
>sufficient evidence for a change in meaning.

I have a couple of comments to this.

1. I've read the text carefully, and nowhere does verse 2 say or
view testing as from God. That appears to be a theological overlay
based upon the standard interpretation of verse 13. Thus, it is
circular reasoning to take this theological overlay as support
for the standard interpretation of verse 13.

2. I think the both of us see a change in meaning from verse 12,
which takes up the meaning in verse 2, to verse 14, whether from
trials to temptation or, as I view it, from the testing of the poor
to the testing of rich, a contrast introduced in vv 9-11, which is
out of place in the standard interpretation. This does not mean
that the change in meaning occurred in verse 13, where it is quite
unexpected, rather than in verse 14!

Thus, none of these points address any of my concerns.

Stephen Carlson
Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@mindspring.com
Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
"Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35

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