[B-Greek] Jam 1:13 APEIRASTOS 'unable to' or 'unable to be ~'

Jeffrey B. Gibson jgibson000 at comcast.net
Thu Jul 5 14:35:30 EDT 2007

Iver Larsen wrote:

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jeffrey B. Gibson" <jgibson000 at comcast.net>
> >> The other problem is the various senses of PEIRAZW. Apart from the sense
> >> "attempt to do (unsuccesfully)" it can mean "test, examine" in a positive
> >> sense
> >> or "tempt to do bad things" in a negative sense.
> >
> > Could you please provide me with some examples in Hellenistic literature apart
> > from
> > those in the "temptation" story of Matt 4:1-11//Lk 4.1-13 where PEIRAZW is
> > used with
> > the sense of "incite" "entice" "seduce", let alone to try to get someone to do
> > **anything**?
> I don't have the resources to search non biblical Greek, so I was relying on
> BAGD which says for PEIRAZW: "2d. in a bad sense also of enticement to sin."

For instances and discussion of them and what they reveal about first century
"secular" understandings of the nature and aim of the action signified by PEIRAZW,
have a look at my article on "testing" in _Dictionary of New Testament Background_,
Craig Evans and Stan Porter, editors.  (If you have no access to this volume, and you
want me to send you a PDF of my entry, let me know off list).

> L&N says: "88.308  PEIRAZW: to endeavor or attempt to cause someone to sin - ‘to
> tempt, to trap, to lead into temptation".
> If your have a quarrel with the standard dictionaries, I think it is upon you to
> prove that they are wrong.

I am quite well aware of what BDAG and L&N claim, but I'm still asking what the
**evidence** is for this claim.  The LXX translators didn't think that PEIRAZW bore
this meaning.  Nor does Josephus or Philo.

To cite Matt. 4:1 and Lk. 4:2 (especially in the light of the evidence from Matt.
4:1-11//Lk. 4:1-13 that the "testing" spoken of there is not only divinely imposed and
directed, but involves a recapitulation of the "testing" that  God subjected Israel to
in the wilderness) as attesting that PEIRAZW  means "tempt to do evil" is not only
circular, but is to ignore the data that shows PEIRAZW doesn't bear this sense at the
very place where it is thought it does..

> I am not aware that this sense is found in the OT, and I didn't speak to the OT.
> >> Which sense is intended can
> >> only be determined in context. The two important determiners are (1) the
> >> motive
> >> and (2) the result.
> >>
> >> Testing has a positive motive by the tester, because the hope is that
> >> whatever
> >> or whoever is being tested will be stregthened after having undergone the
> >> testing/trials.
> >
> > Really?  Is there any hint of this is the stories of God testing Abraham or
> > Israel?
> > Aren't you confusing PEIRAZW with DOKIMAZW?
> No, I am not, although your are right that there is some semantic overlap
> between the positive sense of PEIRAZW and DOKIMAZW.

If you are not, then please produce some evidence that shows that the ancients thought
that there was ever anything beyond a desire to "discover" or "reveal" something about
the person or thing "tested" that motivates the action signified by PEIRAZW.

> Yes, you are correct in assuming that I expect the Devil to be hostile to Jesus
> with bad intent. You are entitled to have different assumptions about the Devil.

Thank you.  But can you please tell me why I should even consider that you assumption
is a valid one?  On what is it based?

Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
Chicago, Illinois
e-mail jgibson000 at comcast.net

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