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Re: Justin on the Temptation

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    ... Mark, I see no contradiction whatsoever. Note, first of all, that the perception that the Devil is a deceiver is something that is not peculiar to Justin
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 29, 1998
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      Mark Goodacre wrote:
      > Jeffrey and others,
      > How far does Justin on the Temptation help or hinder the theory?
      > "For this devil, when [Jesus] went up from the river Jordan, at
      > the time when the voice spake to Him, `Thou art my Son: this day
      > have I begotten Thee,' is recorded in the memoirs of the
      > apostles to have come to Him and tempted Him, even so far as to
      > say to Him, `Worship me; 'and Christ answered him, `Get thee
      > behind me, Satan: thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him
      > only shalt thou serve.' For as he had deceived Adam, so he hoped
      > that he might contrive some mischief against Christ also."
      > (Dialogue with Trypho, 110; ET at
      > http://ccel.wheaton.edu/fathers2/ANF-01/anf01-48.htm#P4043_787325).
      > On one hand, Justin seems to make the close link between the baptism
      > + temptation stories that the thesis requires (and it is something
      > that is clearly important in the narratives of Matthew, Luke and Q),
      > but on the other hand, the role of Satan is one of 'deceit' and
      > 'mischief' which does not seem to cohere with the thesis, does it?
      > All the best


      I see no contradiction whatsoever. Note, first of all, that the
      perception that the Devil is a deceiver is something that is not
      peculiar to Justin but is one found frequently in early Christian
      writings and as well as in Intertestamental and Rabbinic
      literature. It stands behind both the Johannine claim at Jn. 8.44
      that the Devil `has nothing to do with the truth ... he speaks
      according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of
      lies' and the warning from Paul in 2 Cor. 11.14 that Satan
      disguises himself as an angel of light. It can be seen clearly in
      the Marcan story of Peter's `confession' at Caesarea Philippi (Mk
      8.27-33) and its parallel in Matthew (where, by virtue of Matthew's
      addition of the macarism, the perception is perhaps emphasized even
      more strongly than in Mark), as well as in Apoc. Abraham 13 (cf.
      esp. vv. 9-13) and The Testament of Job (especially in Chapters
      24-27, the dialogue between Sitis and Job) where it is a
      fundamental presupposition of the Testament's portrayal of

      But note as well that in all of these texts we also find the
      perception that the *way* the Devil deceives, that is, gets the
      pious whom he "tests" to "see" and accept that what God has
      commanded them to do (or put their trust in) cannot possibly be "of
      God", is specifically by trading upon his status as one privy to
      the divine counsel and who therefore knows what the ways of God
      *really* are for the elect.

      This is wonderfully illustrated in TB Sanhedrin 89b (a midrash on
      the Genesis story of the testing of Abraham) - a text which, by the
      way, bears a striking thematic and formal resemblance with Matt.
      4:1-11 in that (1) the theme of both stories is the demonstration
      of the faithfulness of the pious in and through PEIRASMOS. In both,
      the PEIRASMOS is divinely ordained; and (2) in both, it is not God
      but the Devil who carries out the `testing'. Moreover, like the
      Matthean story, the bulk of the structure of TB Sanhedrin 89b is
      shaped around a threefold and ultimately unsuccessful attempt by
      the Devil to sway the one he `tests' from obedience to a divine
      command. Also, as in Mattahew, each of these attempts is made by
      means of an appeal to a shared knowledge of how God works, what his
      wishes are for the pious, and what, in light of this, the pious
      have a right to expect from God. Likewise each appeal is solemnly
      rebuffed. And here, too, each appeal as well as each of the pious
      one's responses to it, is grounded directly or allusively in

      The text reads:

      And it came to pass after these words, that God did
      tempt Abraham (Gen. 22.1) What is meant by `after'? -
      R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Jose ben Zimra:
      After the words of Satan, as it is written, `And the
      child grew and it was weaned. [And Abraham made a great
      feast the same day the child was weaned' (Gen. 21.8)]
      R. Simeon b. Abba said `na' can only denote entreaty.
      This may be compared to a king of flesh and blood who
      was confronted by many wars which he won by the aid of
      a great warrior. Subsequently he was faced with a
      severe battle. Thereupon he said to him, `I pray thee,
      assist me in battle, that people may not say, there was
      no reality in the earlier ones'. So also did the Holy
      One, blessed be He, say unto Abraham, `I have tested
      thee with may trials and thou didst withstand them all.
      Now be firm for my sake in this trial, that men may not
      say, there was no reality in the earlier ones.'

      Thy Son.
      [But] I have two sons!
      Thine only one.
      Each is the only one of his mother.
      Whom thou lovest.
      I love them both!

      And why all this [circumlocution]? - That his mind should
      not reel [under the sudden shock].

      Thereupon Satan said to the Almighty: `Sovereign of the
      Universe! To this old man didst thou graciously
      vouchsafe the fruit of the womb at the age of a
      hundred, yet of all that banquet which he prepared, he
      did not have one turtle dove or pigeon to sacrifice
      before thee! Hath he done aught but in honour of his
      son?' Replied He: `Yet were I to say to him, `Sacrifice
      thy son before Me,' he would do so without hesitation.'
      Straightway God did tempt Abraham ... And he said,
      Take, I pray thee [na] thy son (Gen. 22:2)... On the
      way Satan came towards him and said to him, `If we
      assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? ...
      Behold thou hast instructed many; and thou hast
      strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden
      him that was falling and thou hast strengthened the
      feeble knees. But now it has come to unto thee and thou
      faintest (Job. 4:2-5 on the basis of a verbal link
      between nasah in Job and Genesis). He replied, `I will
      walk in my integrity' (Ps. 26:2). `But', said [Satan]
      to him, `should not thy fear be thy confidence?' (Job.
      4:6) `Remember', he retorted, `I pray thee, who ever
      perished, being innocent?' (Job 4:6) Seeing that he
      would not listen to him, he said to him, `Now a thing
      was secretly brought to me' (Job 4:12): thus have I
      heard from behind the curtain, `the lamb for a burnt
      offering (Job 4:7) but not Isaac for a burnt offering.'
      He replied, `It is the penalty of a liar, that should
      he even tell the truth, he is not listened to'.

      Here, as in Matthew the Devil's ultimate aim ultimate aim in
      subjecting a servant of God to PEIRASMOS is to disrupt or destroy
      his PISTIS, his faithfulness to, and trust in, God, and thereby
      induce in him the seeds, if not the flowering, of disobedience to
      covenantal obligations. Here, the Devil is explicitly branded as
      a liar. Here, the Devil moves towards his desire by employing a
      tactic consonant with his character as both "a liar", namely, using
      cunning arguments, grounded in Scripture itself, to persuade the
      one whom he "tests" to "see" and accept that what God has commanded
      him to do (or put his trust in) cannot possibly be "of God".

      So what this says to me is that one need not see a contardiction
      between Satan/the Devil as a deceiver and Satan/the devil as one
      who "tests" the pious. The roles are comlimentary. Indeed, if TB
      Sanhedrin (and also 2 Cor. 11.14; compare Life of Adam and Eve 9.1,
      3; 12.11) be taken into account, they are one and the same.



      Jeffrey B. Gibson
      7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
      Chicago, Illinois 60626
      e-mail jgibson000@...
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