From: Jeffrey B. Gibson (email@example.com)
Date: Sat Jun 02 2001 - 17:13:52 EDT
> On Sat, 02 Jun 2001 10:22:52 -0400 "Stephen C. Carlson"
> <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> > 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's assume James is maintaining the same nuance of PEIRASMOS/PEIRAZW
> throughout, that is, that of testing. Now this testing might be for a
> good purpose or end (1:2, cf also the case of Abraham, Gen 22:1, as
> clearly James understood [cf 2:21]), or for an evil purpose or end, as in
> these verses. The shift may be simply in this emphasis. The standard
> interpretation would not disagree with this. It may simply be a case of
> calling the testing resulting in sin a temptation.
I'd like to note that my studies of the use of PEIRAZEIN and cognates do not indicate
that the focus of the "testing" experience is on the effect it has on the one
subjected to it. The focus is, rather, on what **the one doing the testing** discovers
or comes to know about the one "tested". Note the end of the Genesis 22 story where
God proclaims "now I know that you are faithful". Note to the description in
Deuteronomy where God is said to have subjected Israel to continued "testing" so that
he might know whether Israel would remain faithful to his commandments. While
doubtless the experience does affect the one who encounters PEIRASMOS. But this does
not seem to be a major focus of accounts of "testing". So it seems to me to speak of
"testing" for a good or a bad end does not fit well with the ancient understanding of
why "testing" occurred or was carried out.
Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
Chicago, Illinois 60626
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