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

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Thu Jul 5 23:07:03 EDT 2007

Dear Jeff,

NIDNTT, Vol 3, pp. 798-808, "Tempt, Test, Approve," W. Schneider, C. Brown.

    PEIRA, attempt, trial, experiment; PEIRASMOS, test, trial, tempting,
temptation; PEIRAW, try, attempt, endeavor; PEIRAZW, try, test, put on
trial, tempt; EKPEIRAZW, put to the test, try, tempt; *APEIRASTOS*, without
temptation, untempted. (Asterisks is my emphasis).

CL    The noun PEIRA, attempt (Pindar), and the vb. PEIRAW, to test, try
(Homer, Il. 8,8), together with the intensive form (rare in cl. Gk.)
PEIRAZW, to tempt someone, put to the test (Homer, Od. 9, 281), come from
the root PER (cf. Lat. per). The are relate to PERAW, to drive across, pass
through, to strive to get through or over, and express an intention which
includes a certain element of resolution. Thus PEIRAW, and PEIRAZW convey
the genral meaning of to try, and in view of the effort required, to exert
onself, strive, undertake. Through the aspect of carrying through the
desire, and the medthod of doing so, PEIRAZW acquired the meaning of to try
out, make trial of, test, investigate, look into. Referring to competition
against other persons, PEIRAW, usually in mid. or passive, means to measure
oneself against someone, to try one's luck, to strife for someone's favour,
to woo someone, to lead into temptation (especially in the sense of
unchastity), to venture an attack on someone; then, to get to know by
experience, to experience.

    Similarly to the vbs., the noun PEIRA means attempt, trial, test,
attempt at, attack, risk, experience, knowledge. PEIRASMOS means a medical
test (first used by Dioscorides, De Materia Medica, Preface 5, in the 1st
cent. A.D.). EKPEIRAZW, to tempt, and *APEIRASTOS, untempted, are lacking in
cl. Gk.* (Asterisks are my emphasis)

I do find the James is actually reflecting the thought of the OT and LXX in
the following:

    3.    In the OT, especially Deut. and writings reflecting the outlook of
Deut., the ideas of tempting and putting to the test become religious
concepts. Unbelief and presumption, disobedience and murmuring among the
people constitute a challenge to Yahweh, putting him to the test. (page

On page 802-3, after discussing the intensive use of PEIRAZW pp. 801-802, it
is written, "New is the verbal adj. APEIRASTOS, incapable of temptation
(Jas. 1:13)."..."In stark contrast to any attempt to hold God responsible
for human failures, Jas. maintains that God, himself APEIRASTOS, incapable
of being tempted by the evil one, tempts no one (Jas. 1:13). The question of
the origin of temptation is left open."

So, it appears that APIERASTOS should be translated as "incapable of being

En Xristwi,

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jeffrey B. Gibson" <jgibson000 at comcast.net>
To: "Iver Larsen" <iver_larsen at sil.org>
Cc: "greek B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, July 05, 2007 11:35 AM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Jam 1:13 APEIRASTOS 'unable to' or 'unable to be ~'

> 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
> > >> "attempt to do (unsuccesfully)" it can mean "test, examine" in a
> > >> 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
> > > 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
> For instances and discussion of them and what they reveal about first
> "secular" understandings of the nature and aim of the action signified by
> have a look at my article on "testing" in _Dictionary of New Testament
> 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
> 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)
> > >> 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
> > >> 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
> > 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
> >
> > 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
> is a valid one?  On what is it based?
> Jeffrey
> --
> Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
> 1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
> Chicago, Illinois
> e-mail jgibson000 at comcast.net
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
> B-Greek mailing list
> B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-greek


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