Response to Sid (long)
L. J. Swain
larry.swain at wmich.edu
Wed Oct 23 18:46:21 EDT 2002
My Dear Sid,
Your last message I found interesting if misguided. While many of your
comments are arguable, I'll focus on one. Before I do, let me point out
that I never stated that the word "temptation is impossible"for
PEIRASMOS, I simply stated that it wasn't the best choice in modern
English because of a linguistic shift.
Pasted below my comments here are the defintions from several recent
English dictionaries including Merriam Webster's, American Heritage,
Oxford, and thesauri listing their synonyms for "tempt" and
"temptation". In not a single instance do we find "moral test" an
option. I think you'll find that the number one, consistently appearing
synonym and definition is "enticement", objections noted.
>The principle meaning of temptation in modern English certainly is not "enticement" but the test of will arising out of enticement. Translators concerned with accuracy and not pedantry realize that and translate the passages accordingly.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth
NOUN: 1. The act of tempting or the condition of being tempted. 2.
Something tempting or enticing.
VERB: Inflected forms: tempt·ed, tempt·ing, tempt
1. To try to get (someone) to do wrong, especially by a promise of
2. To be inviting or attractive to: A second helping tempted me. We
offer even though it tempted us. See synonyms at lure. 3. To provoke
risk provoking: Don't tempt fate. 4. To cause to be strongly
disposed: He was
tempted to walk out.
INTRANSITIVE VERB: To be attractive or inviting: a meal that tempts.
Rogets II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition. 1995.
1. To behave so as to bring on (danger, for example): court,
invite, provoke. See SEEK. 2.
To beguile or draw into a wrong or foolish course of action:
allure, entice, inveigle, lure,
seduce. Idioms: lead astray. See PERSUASION.
Rogets II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition. 1995.
NOUN: Something that attracts, especially with the promise of pleasure
or reward: allurement,bait, come-on, enticement, inducement,
inveiglement, invitation, lure, seduction. See LIKE.
Online AskOxford Dictionaries and Thesaurus
verb 1 entice, incite to what is forbidden. 2 allure, attract. 3
tempter noun. tempting adjective. temptingly adverb. temptress
Â·1bait, bribe, cajole, coax, decoy, entice, incite, inveigle,
persuade. 2allure, attract, captivate, fascinate, lure, seduce,
/temp"te()n/ noun 1 tempting, being tempted; incitement, esp. to
2 attractive thing or course of action.
Â·1allurement, cajolery, coaxing, enticement, incitement,
seduction, wooing. 2allurement, attraction, bait, draw, enticement,
lure, pull, snare.
Merriam Webster's 10th Edition, 1996:
tempt: to ENTICE (emphasis mine) to do wrong by promise of pleasure or
gain 2. obsolete, a. to make a trial of: test b. to try presumptuously:
provoke c. to risk the dangers of 3. a. to induce to do something b. to
cause to be strongly inclined syn: see LURE
temptation: 1. the act of tempting or state of being in temptation,
ENTICEMENT 2. something enticing, the cause or occasion of enticement.
MS ENCARTA Dictionary:
tempt [ tempt ]
1. incite desire: to cause desire or craving to arise in somebody
tempted by that chocolate cake
2. incite to transgression: to persuade or attempt to persuade somebody
to do something considered wrong
3. invite: to invite or attract somebody The sightseeing tour tempted
4. risk: to risk the possible destructive powers of something tempt the
1. feeling: a craving or desire for something, especially something
thought wrong yield to temptation
2. enticing act: the enticing of desire or craving in somebody
3. enticing thing: something that or somebody who tempts somebody too
many temptations for me here
Sid Martin wrote:
> Oh, of course, I checked the translation of "test" and "trial". None of the
> extensive translations given is any any way related to PEIRASMOS. As for it
> not being a "dictionary," it is as authentic as any other online sources,
> such as this list, for example. Of course, one language is never simply a
> code for another, and every word has a range of meaning which does not
> precisely coincide with that of a word in another language. Hence, the art
> of translation. "Test" may meaning "examination" and "trial" may mean
> "litigation." Think how odd it would sound, however, to say "watch and pray
> that you be not examined" or, indeed, "examine," nor would "lead us not into
> litigation" be entirely satisfactory. The principle meaning of temptation
> in modern English certainly is not "enticement" but the test of will arising
> out of enticement. Translators concerned with accuracy and not pedantry
> realize that and translate the passages accordingly.
> I find your manner personally offensive and will not be corresponding with
> your further.
> Sid Martin
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "L. J. Swain" <larry.swain at wmich.edu>
> To: "Kata Markon" <gmark at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2002 11:32 PM
> Subject: [gmark] Re: EIS PEIRASMON
> > Sid Martin wrote:
> > >
> > > To determine whether the use of "temptation" to render PEIRASMOS is, as
> > > Larry contends, a Romantic relic of the Vulgate, we may consider the
> > > Greek version of the New Testament which retains EIS PEIRASMON in both
> > > 14:38 and Matt 6:13. The online modern Greek dictionary I consulted,
> > > at www.in.gr/dictionary, gives, as its only translation of PEIRASMOS,
> > > "temptation," and conversely renders "temptation" only as PEIRASMOS.
> > > Further, the phrase "yield to temptation" is rendered ENDIDW STON
> > > while "chocolates and other temptations" is translated SOKOLATES KAI
> > > PEIRASMOI. Apparently, the Greeks themselves have given into the
> > > to equate temptation with PEIRASMOS.
> > My dear Sid,
> > To determine whether the use of "temptation" to render PEIRASMOS is
> > influenced by the KJV and Vulgate, considering modern Greek versions,
> > online dictionaries of modern Greek, and how an online modern Greek
> > dictionary renders modern Greek PEIRASMOS into English has absolutely NO
> > BEARING WHATSOEVER on whether modern English "temptation" has not
> > undergone something of a semantic shift or whether retention of it in
> > the face of better English words in some contexts is out of respect for
> > hoary tradition. We won't even enter into the lexicographic issues of
> > the semantic fields of modern PEIRASMOS and Koine PEIRASMOS(diachronic
> > issue), nor into the issue of whether "temptation" is the ONLY
> > justifiable and even best way to define modern Greek PEIRASMOS in
> > English (synchronic issue), but we will certainly note that modern Greek
> > usage vis-a-vis modern English usage has nothing to contribute to a
> > discussion of Koine usage vis-a-vis modern English. Nor shall I engage
> > the glossary style entries in this ""dictionary" and the lexicographical
> > issues that raises. By the way did you happen to check what word the
> > dictionary renders for modern English "test" or "trial" out of academic
> > thoroughness?
> > Your original question was answered: temptation isn't always the best
> > word to use because the primary meaning of temptation in modern English
> > is not a "test" or "trial" but rather an "enticement". The retention of
> > the word in many modern translations is attributable to the influence of
> > the Vulgate and KJV. Deal with the relevant data, Sid.
> > >
> > > If EIS PEIRASMON is to be understood as a test of God and not of man in
> > > New Testament, as Jeffrey maintains, it should be possible to
> > > from the Greek patristic writers that the cited verses, and parallels,
> > > so interpreted by those closest to the linguistic world of New, as
> > > to Old, Testament Greek. I have not done that myself, but perhaps
> > > should. If the Greek fathers themselves thought that man, and not God,
> > > being tested, then Jeffrey's translation would certainly qualify as
> > > idiosyncratic (put together by oneself).
> > Perhaps, but not necessarily. For one thing, I rather doubt that one
> > can extract a commentary on this verse alone, conflated as the double,
> > triple, and quadruple tradition usually is in Christian thought to form
> > a single account instead of four. But even were that possible and
> > someone did comment on this verse specifically, it is unlikely that he
> > commented on the use of PEIRASMOS, being more interested in allegorical
> > symbolism such as the 3 times Jesus goes to pray and come back and what
> > that signifies, as in the first true commentary on Mark, once thought to
> > be by Jerome, but shown now not to be. We shouldn't really expect, in
> > any case, an ancient writer to tell us what to them is the obvious
> > reading in a commentary, since it is, well, obvious. Let me also point
> > out that the writers of the "New Testament" were steeped in the LXX as
> > were their communities, so looking in patristic fathers as a better
> > enterprise than looking in the LXX is really not a useful exercise.
> > > Jeffrey attempts to prove from a few Septuagintal examples, none of
> > > involve the use of PEIRASMOS, that something remarkable occurs when one
> > > told "not to enter into" an activity which can, he says, only be done
> > > actively and not passively. Rather, it would seem to be the sense of
> > > passage which requires that interpretation, not the grammatical
> > > construction. The master would logically judge the servant and not the
> > > reverse, Ps. 142:2 (LXX), and the living would naturally mourn and not
> > > themselves be mourned, Jer. 16:5 (LXX). It is unlikely that Joshua
> > > expect the Israelites to be idolized by the heathens, Josh. 23:6 (the
> > > passage is rather too convoluted to lend itself to comparison in any
> > No, no, dear chap, I'm afraid you've confused things. I said that there
> > is nothing in Mark 14:38 to indicate to me that the sense is reflexive
> > or passive, that there is a sense in which ERXOMAI suddenly means endure
> > and experience rather than engage in, its figurative meaning. JEFFREY
> > demonstrated a) that PEIRASMOS is something that the follower of Jesus
> > should expect and in fact welcome (Jas. 1:2) so if Jesus is hear
> > commanding his disciples to pray that they be exempted or not experience
> > PEIRASMOS we have Jesus basically contradicting not only himself, but
> > almost every passage in the Hebrew Bible and in the NT on the subject,
> > b) that the construction MH ERXOMAI EIS in the LXX means "to enter upon,
> > to engage in" and NOT "to experience or suffer". As for your comment
> > regarding the "sense"not the "grammar", the two are the same, grammar is
> > the set of linguistic devices we use to convey meaning and sense, so the
> > grammatical construction tells us what the sense is. Ps 142:2 for
> > example. The LXX says "Enter not into judgement with your servant". If
> > we ignored the grammar here of the MH ERXOMAI EIS and translated the
> > phrase with the sense you give it in Mark, it would indeed mean "do not
> > experience judgement with your servant", the very thing you say is
> > nonsensical. Now that you realize that this construction translated the
> > way Joe wishes in Mark is not only ungrammatical, nonsensical, and
> > contradictory to Jesus own teaching, perhaps you'll come around.
> > > It is not as a general rule true that PEIRASMOS is to be understand in
> > > active and not a passive sense or that, as Larry suggests, the passive
> > > would have been used if that were the sense intended. Examination of
> > > New Testament passages should make that clear. PROS PEIRASMON HUMIN, 1
> > > 4:12, refers to the ordeal the believers are suffering and not
> > For one thing, dear Sid, nouns are not active or passive, verbs are. I
> > Pet 4:12 also makes clear with the choice of verb and pronoun and
> > preposition what is going on: the verb is GINOMAI, EN HUMIN, to you,
> > PROS.... in short, the clarity is there not because of the "PEIRASMON"
> > not being passive, but because the PURWSEI happens TO YOU FOR YOUR
> > TESTING....this isn't parallel at all to Mark 14:38 which has "you" as
> > the subject, an active verb "enter" and an object, "test", very simple
> > grammatically.
> > > Similarly TON PEIRASMON HUMWN, Gal 4:14; PEIRASMOS HUMAS, 1 Cor 10:13;
> > > TOIS PEIRASMOIS MOU, Lk 22:28. In each of these phrases, the person
> > > referenced is succumbing to, and not engaging in, PEIRASMOS.
> > Once again, look at the whole sentence, the verbs, etc, not just your
> > piece of the pie and you'll find that that the clarity is not in the
> > word PEIRASMON as active or passive, but in what surrounds it. I'll
> > repeat, if in Mark 14:38 something would either have to be passive (a
> > verb form) or reflexive (something to indicate that the "testing" is
> > happening to the subject, such as "EN HUMIN"). But since there is
> > nothing, we are left with a problem, a problem I might add that
> > interpreters before Jeffrey have noted, if you go back and reread the
> > first section of his paper you will find a number of scholars cited
> > there wrestling with the issue, and more in their footnotes.
> > <snip of more irrelavant and misunderstood Greek passages)
> > > In none of these passages have the authors seen fit to employ a
> > > passive construction to convey a passive sense.
> > But the author does employ prounous and possessive adjectives, and in
> > none of those cases is the subject of the sentence acting on the
> > PEIRASMON, and in none of those cases do we have the absence of pronouns
> > or possessive adjectives that make very clear who is being tested. We
> > have a complete absence of that in Mark 14:38.
> > I'm not convinced that MH
> > > EISELQHS EIS changes that. The only active use of PEIRASMOS I can find
> > > the NT is Lk 4:13 where it is the devil himself who has finished all his
> > > actively inflicted PEIRASMON. Unlike the sleepy disciples, that is only
> > > be expected.
> > After responding to all of this Sid, I'm not certain you've actually
> > read Jeffrey's paper so much as you've engaged material posted by Joe
> > and to a lesser extent by me. I would invite you to reread Jeffrey's
> > paper and pay close attention to the construction of his case and deal
> > specifically with the material he presents there.
> > So far neither you nor Joe have dealt with the data.
> > Regards,
> > Larry Swain
> > ---
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