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1168Re: [Synoptic-L] sources of Matt. 4:1-11//Lk. 4:1-13

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    Jun 13, 2008
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      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG
      In Response To: Mark Goodacre
      On: The Temptation of Jesus
      From: Bruce

      Getting back to earlier mail on this subject, a while ago we had:

      Mark: Of course on the Farrer Theory too Matthew could be conflating Mark
      1.12-13 with another written source unknown to us, but it tends not to be a
      popular option. They tend to see it as quite plausible to have Matthew
      creatively expanding the Marcan source here, drawing in material from the

      Bruce: So far so good, at least to my eye. But isn't there another element
      that deserves consideration? I refer to the place which each of the
      Synoptists gave to the Temptation story in their respective narratives. For
      the thinking of aMk and aMt, we can only infer from their final result. For
      aLk, I think, we have an explicit hint that he saw the Temptation as
      integrated into the larger pattern of his story. It is Lk alone which has
      the detail that at the end of the Temptations, the Devil departed "until an
      opportune time."

      *What* opportune time?

      With this Lukan hint, the alert 10-year old reader of Luke will probably be
      waiting for the reappearance of the Devil in the story, or at least for the
      reappearance of whatever theme seems to reside in Luke's Temptation story.
      Are there in fact any such places? And before we get to that, What *is* the
      point of Luke's Temptation story? What is the Devil there trying to do? I
      suggest that he is trying to distract Jesus from his mission of bringing to
      an end the reign of Satan, and replacing it with the reign of God. To do
      that, the Devil (in Matthew) first tempts Jesus to use his powers for his
      own trivial advantage. This fails; Jesus is not going to be trivialized.
      Then the Devil offers him universal sovereignty, but *terrestrial*
      sovereignty, of course under the Devil's aegis. This too doesn't work (in
      Luke, this incident is put second so the Jerusalem incident can be
      climactically third, another of those Lukan improvements in his predecessor
      Matthew that really don't work out too well, literarily). All that, and
      especially the Matthean third step, seems consistent with the idea that the
      Temptation is a temptation for Jesus to abandon his destined (and of course,
      to him, fatal) course.

      Our alert reader will thus be up and ready for Luke's version of Mk 8:31-33,
      in which Peter is rebuked as just such a Satanic tempter, and for why? For
      protesting the idea of Jesus's necessary death. But look for it though one
      may, it is not there. Matthew has it (Mt 16:22), but Luke has eliminated it
      (see the hole in the Synopsis after Lk 9:22, where Jesus's announcement of
      his pending death passes without protest). Why? Here we fall back on
      conjecture. Let's leave it until we examine the other possibility for what
      Lk had in mind.

      That place, I suggest, is the Gethsemane scene, where no Devil is present,
      and no worldly dominions are on offer, but where Jesus himself is asking his
      Father to spare him the ordeal to come, while accepting it if such be his
      Father's will. Apart from this thematic echo (the end of the Ministry
      harking back to its prologue), which might freely be supposed of the Mk and
      Mt versions also, is there anything in Luke as distinct from Mk/Mt that
      would suggest that Luke himself saw the Gethsemane scene as Jesus's second
      Temptation? I think so.

      One point: at Lk 22:40, instead of asking his disciples to sit while he
      prays, he says to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." The
      word "temptation" here is a Lukan wrinkle; it does not occur in the parallel
      Mk/Mt versions, but is rather borrowed from a later point in those versions.
      Second, Luke omits the part about Jesus being "greatly distressed and
      troubled" (Mk 14:33, cf Mt 26:37 "sorrowful and troubled"). In Luke, Jesus
      faces the Final Temptation with no less dignity and composure than in the
      First Temptation. Luke also omits, from his Mk/Mt precedents, the repeated
      prayers and reprovings of the disciples for sleeping; surely a more
      dignified treatment. And when on the one iteration of that motif, Jesus
      finds the disciples asleep, it is "for sorrow" (Lk 22:45), not simply out of
      fatigue. Then at the end, where Mk/Mt have "*watch* and pray that you may
      not enter into temptation," Lk 22:46 has instead "*rise* and pray that you
      may not enter into temptation," here following Mk/Mt, but with the
      additional force that he is also echoing not only the temptation saying
      which he inserted in the beginning of the Gethsemane scene, but also the
      scene of the Temptations in the Wilderness.

      If this account of Luke's intended design is correct, then he will have
      omitted the Peter scene in the middle precisely to avoid casting the
      disciples, whom on the whole he treats kindly (the Gethsemane scene itself
      being a good example), as diabolic in any serious sense. It will be noted,
      and indeed it has many times *been* noted, that Luke "spares the Twelve" in
      general, and also in the Gethsemane scene.

      We then have an intentional, and even an authorially signaled, resonance
      between the bookend passages before and after Jesus's preaching career,
      having to do with achieving his mandate as the Son of God.

      That's my suggestion. Is it precedented? Not in the usual commentaries I
      have been able to consult. There is a hint of it in Goulder Luke ap
      Gethsemane, but not in connection with the other two temptation passages
      here treated; I cannot see that MG even comments on the abridgement of the
      Temptation scene at 9:22. I offer the present suggestion, then, as an
      example of the value of considering, along with the fine word detail, the
      larger design detail which can plausibly be inferred as having been in the
      mind of Luke.

      A fully functional Synoptic theory should not only account for all the
      words, it should also have something to say about the places where there are
      no words.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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