Jeffrey B. Gibson jgibson000 at
Wed Oct 23 16:41:01 EDT 2002

Several questions have been raised as to whether the Biblical witness
testifies to PEIRASMOS being something to which human beings are/can be
subjected. The answer is, of course it does -- and I never suggested
otherwise. But it also testifies, and quite explicitly, to both the
possibility and the "having happened-ness" of certain individuals and
groups (all within a covenant relationship to a deity) subjecting God to

Several questions have also been raised about whether the Biblical
witness views PEIRASMOS in terms of (a)  "temptation", that is to say,
an enticement or seduction or an effort to get someone to act in a
certain way by holding up as bait the prospect of pleasure or
advantage,  and a "general test of moral character".

My brief answer to these last questions is "no". PEIRASMOS is not
presented in the biblical witness as something equivalent to what we
think of when we hear the word "temptation" nor as a test of how moral
one is  -- since "testing" and the "hard trials" signified by PEIRASMOS
and its verbal cognates, when applied to human beings or to God,  have
to do with how faithful one is to the exigencies of a covenant.

To demonstrate this, I have uploaded (in pdf format) a Lexical and
"Narratival" study that was the first part of my doctoral dissertation
on the Traditions of Jesus under PEIRASMOS in the Synoptic Gospels. It
is available at:

What you will find there is three things: (a) a listing of all of the
instances of PEIRASMOS, PEIRAZW, and EKPEIRAZW found in extant pre 200
CE Greek literature (Biblical, Biblically related, and secular); (b) an
examination of the use of these terms in that literature (a lexical
study designed to determine the semantic range that these terms
possessed before 200 CE); and (c) a study of the narrative evidence --
that is, an examination of what the stories about "human beings under
PEIRASMOS" tell us about the ways that the phenomenon designated by the
term was understood in in Classical and Hellenistic times.

I do this with the full intent of throwing the gauntlet down to Joe and
Sid. They have made claims about what the "temptation" terminology used
by Mark actually means. I do not think, given what you find here, that
they are correct. But in any event, if they wish to argue their
respective cases, they will have to first confront what is contained in
this file, and then show on the basis of this data -- which is, after
all -- the only data that is relevant -- that I am wrong.


Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
          Floor 1
Chicago, Illinois 60626
e-mail jgibson000 at
          jgibson000 at

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