Jeffrey: Just a heads-up:You seem to mis-transliterate eirhnopoioj fairly consistently. I like the fact that you make a big deal of this concept, though I haven't yet thought through the exegetical support for its importance in this pericope.
Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
From: Jeffrey B. Gibson <jgibson000@...
To: Crosstalk2 <email@example.com
Cc: NewSynoptic <Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
>; Christian Origins <firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Sun, 15 Jun 2008 9:40 pm
Subject: [Synoptic-L] revisions of previous postings on Mt. 4:1-11//Lk. 4:1-13
I've done some revision of, and made some additions to, what I've
reviously posted on the questions of (1) the sources of Matthew's and
uke's WTS (Wilderness "Temptation" Story) and (2) the historicity of
he event and the origin of the Matthean and Lukan versions of the WTS .
Trusting that List Members are interested in seeing how I'm working all
f this out, I'm posting the revisions here.
Comments and criticisms are welcome.
The Evangelists' Sources
Most commentators on Mt. 4:1-11//Lk. 4:1-13, and especially those who
ccept the general validity of the "two source/document hypothesis"
olution to the Synoptic Problem (in which the major sources of the
ospels of Matthew and Luke are the Gospel of Mark and a document of
bout 250 verses in length conventionally labeled ["the Sayings Gospel"]
) , agree that both the Matthean and Lukan versions of the Wilderness
emptation story are independently based upon, and derived from some
orm of "pre-Matthean" and "pre-Lukan" tradition, oral or written. But
ot all. In addition to the majority view that both Matthew's and
uke's versions are derived from, and are dependent upon, both Mk.
:12-13 and a dialogic narrative of Jesus being tested by the devil that
atthew and Luke found independently of one another in a document of
ome kind, we find other positions that break down roughly along these
Luke's version is primarily derived from Matthew's which is something
hat Matthew himself, using Mk. 1:12-13 as his basis and starting
oint, creatively expanded upon and worked up into an haggadic on the
iblical stories of Israel's Wilderness testing (a position advanced
nd argued for by A.Farrer and Michael Goulder and strongly articulated
nd defended by Mark Goodacre, among others).
Luke's version is wholly derived from Matthew's which in turn is
ependent only upon a fixed pre-Matthean tradition centering in a
ialogue between Jesus and the devil and has within it no elements from
k. 1:12-13 (a position taken by J.J. Greisbach, W. Farmer, D. Peabody,
, Duncan, T, Longstaff and other "Griesbachians) so called Griemany
dvocates of the Griesbach Hypothesis)
Luke' version is derived both, and in the main, from Matthew's, which in
urn is derived from some form of a fixed pre Matthean tradition about
esus being tested by the devil in the wilderness, and, at certain
oints, from Mk. 1:12-13 (a position advocated by B.C. Butler and
ther proponents of the "Augustinian hypothesis")
Luke's version is derived from Matthew's version which is an haggadic
idrash on the Biblical stories of Israel's Wilderness testing something
hat Matthew himself worked up without reference to, or use of, Mk.
:12-13, even though Matthew was aware of, and elsewhere used material
rom, the Gospel of Mark (a position advocated by W. Wilkens)
"Die Versuchung Jesu nach Matthäus", NTS 28 (1982) 479–89; ibid.
"Die Versuchungsgeschichte Lukas 4, 1–13 und die Komposition des
Evangeliums", TZ 30 (1974) 262–72.
Matthew's version is derived from Luke's version which in turn is
ependent upon a pre Lukan midrash on the tradition of Abraham's tenth
esting that is preserved in Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 89b
a position propounded by William Lockton, Robert L. Lindsey, and
embers of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research).
Space forbids a discussion here of which, if any, of these positions is
orrect. But it seems clear that some -- the Griesbachian, Augustinian,
nd Jerusalem School positions in particular -- are less likely than
thers noted above. The Griesbachian and Augustinian views are bound up
n theories of Synoptic relationships that are based no so much on a
ispassionate analysis of the literary relationships that exist among
nd between the Synoptic Gospels as they are on acceptance of the
alidity of patristic testimony about Matthean priority and the order of
ospel composition, which is, at least to many, highly questionable.
nd the Jerusalem School's view is grounded in presuppositions about the
ate of Luke and the evidentiary value of the data adduced in support of
he Gospel's early date that are untenable.
Furthermore, absent having either (a) concrete evidence (a found scroll
f Q?) for the existence of a discreet pre-Matthean tradition which
ontained a version of the Wilderness temptation whose form and wording
omports with what advocates of Matthew's and/or Luke's use of it have
notably, not always in agreement with one another) postulated it
ossessed, or (b) some trustworthy external testimony that Matthew and
uke had available to them, and used, no other version of the story
han that which is found in at Mk. 1:12-13, the validity even of the
emaining source critical positions cannot actually be determined.
iven the limits of our knowledge here, they must remain possibilities.
he Historicity of the Event and the Origin of the Wilderness
There is no compelling reason to doubt the claim of Matthew and Luke
hat prior to engaging in a public ministry (and as a concomitant to his
aptism), Jesus had some sort of experience in which his resolve to
ollow a particular understanding of faithfulness to the God of Israel
as "put to the test".
So E.P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (London: Penguin,
1993) 117; M. Borg, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and
Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary (San Francisco: Harper/San
Francisco, 2006) 124, J. Dupont, "L'origine du récit des tentations
de Jésus au désert", RB 73 (1966) 30–76; R. Funk and the Jesus
Seminar, The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of
Jesus (San Francisco: Polebridge Press, 1998) 43; J.
Murphy-O'Connor, "Triumph over Temptation. The Historical Core
Behind the Testing of Jesus" Bible Review 15 (1999) 34-43, 48-49;
Allison, "Behind the Tempations", 213, and others. The claim that
the theme of a trial or testing of a hero or a religious founder
that takes place shortly before their adoption of a commissioned
vocation or assent to a way of life is one that is prominent in
fictitious "biographies" of these figures, hardly counts as fatal
evidence against this, even should it be true that the theme is as
widespread in such biographies as it is often (but, notably, usually
by disciples of J.G. Frazier and C. Jung or uncritical adherents to
the work on heroes of F-R. R. Somerset (Lord) Raglan [The Hero, A
Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama [New York: Oxford University
Press, 1937]), asserted to be . On this see N.T. Wright, Jesus and
the Victory of God (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1996) 457.
It may even have taken place both in the particular locale in which,
ccording to the Synoptic Evangelists, we are told it occurred,
I.e, "the wilderness". On the questions of the specific location of
the "wilderness" identified by Matthew, Mark, and Luke as the locale
of Jesus' Wilderness "temptation and the historicity of the
Evangelists' claim that Jesus' went to/was in a wilderness locale
when he experienced a pre-ministry testing of his resolve to be
faithful to a particular understanding of "sonship", see Robbins,
The Testing of Jesus in Q.
s well as within the context of, or after, and as arising from, a
eriod of fasting on Jesus' part. The question, however, is whether
his experience actually unfolded and transpired with even a minimal
esemblance to the particular way that we are told by the Evangelists it
The answer to this must certainly be no, and this apart from the often
bserved facts(a) that Matthew and Luke contradict one another not only
n the way they set out the order of the event's constituent episodes,
ut with respect to narrative details within them (since conflicting
ccounts of the sequence or of the details of an event do not, in and of
hemselves, falsify the historicity of the event inaccurately reported,
b) that a principle character within the story is not an historical
ersonage, let alone an ontological reality (since one can encounter, be
ubjected to, and go through, an actual test of faithfulness absent an
ntologically real "tester)", and (c) that the accounts of the event
re embellished with patently "mythological" motifs (since the
unction of such embellishment is often to highlight what to the
eporter is the significance of the event in question).
What makes the certain the negative answer to the question of the
istoricity of the incidents narrated in Mt. 4:1-11//Lk. 4:1-13 is that
atthew and Luke themselves do not think that what they relate as having
appened to Jesus during his time in the wilderness are concrete,
bjectively verifiable, historical events. Rather, they think that what
hey record in Matt. 4:3-11//Lk. 4:3-12 as transpiring between Jesus and
he Devil and as coming upon Jesus are things that Jesus experienced in
vision to which he alone was privy.
So Twelftree ("Temptations of Jesus" 822) and especially
B..Witherington who points to the facts that the story as Matthew
and Luke present it is not only explicitly portrayed as grounded in
the sort of action that, according to Dan. 9:3; 10:203; 4 Ezra 5:13,
20; 2 Bar. 9:2, are regularly the occasion, if not the cause, of
visionary experiences, but also displays the themes of "transport in
the Spirit, or visionary transport"and the interpreting angel who
reveals the mysteries of God to those in his charge and who takes
them up into high places so that they might see things normally
hidden from the eyes of men, that are prominent in, and key
features of, Inter-testamental accounts of visionary experiences
(cf. Witherington, Jesus the Seer: The Progress of Prophecy [Peabody
Mass.; Hendrikson, 1999] 279-280) .
ut was the vision that Matthew and Luke tell us that Jesus had during
r after a fast in the wilderness really something that Jesus himself
ctually had. That is to say, is the particular delineation of the
ontent of the vision attributed to Jesus by the Evangelists, something
hat is secondary to Jesus, a "church product". Or is it a reproduction
f a dominical reminiscence? While it is usually assumed that it is the
ormer, a number of scholars have argued that it is the latter.
E.g., Hagner, Twelftree, Allison, Witherington, Wright, and
(tentatively) Borg, among others. Notably, as V. Keitsch has
pointed out ("The Antiocheans and the Temptation Story" in F.L.
Cross [ed.], Studia Patristica 7 [TU 92 Berlin:Akademie Verlag,
1966] 496-502), so did a number of important Alexandrine and
In support of this contention, they point out, citing such texts as
k. 10:18; 20:31-32, not only that Jesus was, and knew himself to be,
visionary, but that the specific subject of at least two of the
isions to which he was privy was Satan in action as "the one who tests"
That this is the subject of the vision Jesus reminisces about in Lk.
10:18, see U.B. Müller, "Vision und Botschaft: Erwägungen zur
prophetischen Struktur der Verkündigung Jesus." ZNW 74 (1977) 416–48.
Thus to rule as impossible the idea that Jesus could have had a vision
long the lines of the one that Matthew and Luke tell us he had when he
as on the verge of his public ministry, is unwarranted. Moreover, if
s other Synoptic texts such as Mt. 12:22-32//Mk. 20-30//Lk.1:14-23 seem
o indicate, Jesus actually envisaged himself as one who by various
eans was putting into effect an initial victory he had earlier obtained
ver the one who tests faithfulness, it would be surprising if he had
ot had a vision like the one outlined in Mt. 4:1-11//Lk. 4:1-13.
So J. Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus; N.T, Wright, Jesus and the
Victory of God (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1996) 457-458
Nor is there any reason to deny the assumption inherent in the claim
hat the vision recounted in Mt. 4:1-11//Lk 4:1-12 is dominical -- i.e.,
hat Jesus would have spoken publicly about it, and thereby set it out
s a tradition to be remembered and transmitted. Again, Lk. 10:18, not
o mention, Lk. 20: stands as evidence for this. And it is not
ifficult to imagine plausible scenarios in which Jesus would feel it
ecessary or desirable to recount it.
E.g, that, as A Feuillet suggests ("Die Versuchungen Jesu",
Internationale Katholische Zeitschrift Communio 8  226-237),
Jesus reported such an experience to his disciples in the context of
the rebuke of Peter at Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8:33).
But the difficulty with all of this is that, even granting that what
atthew and Luke report as the content of Jesus' vision was rooted in a
ecitation by Jesus himself of a vision vouchsafed to him in which his
esolve to be obedient to God was put to the proof by God's tester, we
ave no way of knowing, let alone proving, that what Matthew and Luke
ransmit is an accurate reproduction of the form and wording and
arrative substance of that recitation.
In fact, at least one principal feature of Mt. 4:3-11//Lk. 4:3-13
trongly suggests that what they "transmit" is not, not, namely, the
tyle of debate Jesus is depicted as using in the temptation story,
hich has with justification been deemed by many as "thoroughly Rabbinic".
Cf. B.M. van Iersel, "Der Sohn" in den synoptischen Jesusworten:
Christusbezeichnung der Gemeinde oder Selbstbezeichnung Jesu?
(Leiden: Brill, 1964) 166; Bultmann, History, 253–57; Nolland, Luke
As is indicated by the conflict stories in the Synoptic tradition, this
s not Jesus' usual manner of argumentation, even with opponents versed
n Scripture or who use scripture to make their case. Nor can one find
nywhere else in the Synoptic Traditon a portrait of Jesus issuing
esponses to anything said to him that are entirely made up, as Jesus
esponses in Mt. 4:3-11//Lk. 4:3-13 are, of scriptural citations.
Mt. 22:41-46//Mk. 12:35-37a//Lk. 20:41-44 notwithstanding, for here
Jesus is presented not as responding to a question asked of him, let
alone defending a position he has adopted, but as posing a riddle to
a passive audience and going on the offensive against a position the
Pharisees (so Matthew) or the "Scribes" (so Mark and Luke) have taken.
Moreover, even if Jesus **did **report that in his vision he had found
imself using and exchanging scriptural quotations with the devil,
ould he have cast his recollection of the quotations he and the devil
sed according to their LXX formulations? And adding to the suspicion
hat Mt. 4:3-11//Lk. 4:3-13 is not a faithful reproduction of a
ominical report is both (a) the fact, pointed out by Gouder and
ilkens, that a significant portion of the vocabulary we find in both
f the "transmitted" versions of the report is characteristically Matthean.
Goulder, Midrash and Lection in Matthew, 247; Wilkens, "Die
Versuchung Jesu nach Matthäus." NTS 28 (1982) 479–89.
and (b) the consideration that Jesus and the Evangelists never
lsewhere cast anything he recounts, including, notably, his other
isions of Satan "falling" and at work in "sifting" God's elect, in
nything like the form or the genre of haggadic midrash in which the
transmitted" report of his Wilderness "temptation" vision is cast.
So not only must we remain skeptical with respect to the validity of the
laim that what we have in Mt Lk derives from Jesus himself and embodies
ore than minimally a reminiscence of a vision that is ultimately
ominical; we must recognize that the affirmation of its validity
ntails the very conclusion that those do affirm it seem reluctant to
ccept, namely, that the report as it is reproduced by Matthew and Luke
s a "church product".
But the assertion that Mt. 4:1-11//Lk. 4:1-13 is a "church product"
oses its own problem. It does not answer the question of why it was
hat "the chuch" cast the WTS in the particular form in which Matthew
nd Luke present it, let alone why "the church' endowed it with the
ecapitulation theme and the specific articulation of the content of
esus' "temptations" that it has in their Gospels?
One answer is that the who ever was responsible for the "the church
roduct" presented at Mt..4:1-11//Lk. 4:1-13 (an anonymous scribe? [so
erhardsson] the "Q comminity"? [so Klopenborg and others], Matthew
imself? [so Goulder]) has taken his/her/their cue to do so from Mark
ho had adumbrated in his version of the WTS all that we find in Mt.
:1-11//Lk. 4:1-13. But this presupposes not only that "the church"
esponsible for creating the Matthean and Lukan WTS knew and used Mk.
:12-13, but that within these verses Mark himself presented the content
f Jesus' WT along the same lines as the Matthean and Lukan versions of
he WTS do, that is, a test of Jesus' resolve to be faithful to a
attern of Sonship that consists in being an eirenhpoioj -- a
upposition that not all interpreters of Mk. 1:12-13 share, let alone
hink is likely.
Especially so if one believes, as do E. Best The Temptation and the
Passion: The Markan Soteriology (Cambridge: CUP, 1965), R. A.
Guelich, Mark 1–8:26 (Dallas: Word, 1989) 38; J. Gnilka, Das
Evangelium nach Markus. Vol 1 (Zürich: Benzinger/Neukirchen-Vluyn:
Neukirchener Verlag, 1978) 58; J. Jeremias," 0Adam", TDNT 1 (1964)
141; H.G. Leder, "Sündenfallerzählung und Versuchungsgeschichte."
ZNW 54 (1963) 188–216; Allison ("Behind the Temptations", and
others, that Mk. 1:12-13 presents Jesus in terms of Adam, not, as I,
van Henten ("The First Testing of Jesus", 366) and others think,
And even if this indeed be what Mark presented as the center of Jesus'
T, we still do not have the answer we seek, since the matter is not
ctually resolved. It is simply pushed back one remove. On what is
ark's presentation based?
Far more plausible is the claim that the reason we have the story of
esus' WT explicated in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in the form and
ashion we do, is that the Matthean and Lukan versions of the WTS are
rounded in the fact, widely known in, and frequently proclaimed by "the
hurch", that during his ministry Jesus was not only subjected by
adversaries" who proclaimed true insight into the ways and purposes of
od to tests of faithfulness, but that these tests always focused in
ome fashion, if not explicitly, on the question of whether God
ctually demands, as Jesus thought and declared he did, that to be a
rue Israelite, one must follow even unto death the path of the
irenhpoioj and show mercy and compassion to those his adversaries
among whom his disciples sometimes numbered) deemed enemies of Israel.
For a defense of this contention which, to my knowledge, was first
mooted by John Howard Yoder (The Politics of Jesus ) see my
Temptations of Jesus in Early Christiinity, passim..
Thus, the particular shape that the "church" gave to the source of Matt.
:1-11//Lk. 4:1-13 is due to the setting out in fixed fashion not some
nconstrained imaginings of early followers of Jesus about what they
hought Jesus must done/ undergone when he was lone in the wilderness,
So Funk, et. al, Deeds of Jesus, 43.
but a programmatic summary of memories of actual events in Jesus' life.
On this, see R.E. Brown, "Incidents. that Are Units in the Synoptic
Gospels but Dispersed in St. John," CBQ 23 (1961), 143–60.
effrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
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