1168Re: [Synoptic-L] sources of Matt. 4:1-11//Lk. 4:1-13
- Jun 13, 2008To: Synoptic
In Response To: Mark Goodacre
On: The Temptation of Jesus
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
*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
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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