Tempting a Hen to Play a Chick(en)

In Matt 4:5–7; Luke 4:9–12, Jesus cites Deut 6:16 in response to his temptation at the temple. The full text there runs “you shall not test Yahweh, your God, as you tested him at Massah” (Deut 6:16; לא תנסו את־יהוה אלהיכם כאשר נסיתם במסה) and refers to Israel’s grumbling about their lack of water in Exod 17:1–7. In this narrative, Exodus reports that Moses “[] called the name of the place ‘Massah’ and ‘Meribah’ on account of the dispute of the sons of Israel and of their testing Yahweh, saying, ‘Is Yahweh in our midst or not?’” (Exod 17:7; ויקרא שם המקום מסה ומריבה על־ריב בני ישראל ועל נסתם את־יהוה לאמר היש יהוה בקרבנו אם־אין; cf. Num 20:2–13). Although this interpretation is Exodus’s own, Exodus does not directly narrate the people’s posing this question (Exod 17:1–6). Instead, they demand water from Moses and inquire whether lacking it indicates that they have been brought into the wilderness to die of thirst (Exod 17:2–3). Thus, the pericope’s interpretive conclusion seems to represent the recorded speech as tantamount to having asked the question “Is Yahweh in our midst or not?” (Exod 17:7; היש יהוה בקרבנו אם־אין).

When Jesus quotes Deut 6:16 to the devil, he quotes only the first part of the text about the inappropriateness of testing God and omits the direct reference to Massah (Matt 4:7; Luke 4:12). Yet, the connection with Massah apparently helps make Deut 6:16 an apt retort to the temptation in which the devil has taken Jesus to “the pinnacle of the temple” (Matt 4:5; Luke 4:9; τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ). Once there, the devil urges Jesus to jump and trust Yahweh’s angels to catch him, in the words of Ps 91:11–12, “lest you should strike your foot on a stone” (Matt 4:6; Luke 4:11; μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου).

Yahweh “will [indeed] command his angels” (τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται), and they will indeed minister to Jesus (Matt 4:7, 11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:10). Yet, Yahweh is himself one who does touch foot to stone: when Israel was at Massah, Yahweh said to Moses, “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb” (Exod 17:6; הנני עמד לפניך שם על־הצור בחרב).‭1

Thus, even as Jesus enacts what should have been Israel’s proper response of trusting Yahweh, so he also enacts Yahweh’s faithful care over his people.2 In Ps 91:4, somewhat earlier than the devil’s quotation, the psalmist says Yahweh “will cover you with his pinion, and under his wings you will seek refuge” (באברתו יסך לך ותחת־כנפיו תחסה). In one respect, though much differently than the devil now suggests, Jesus is the properly trusting recipient of his Father’s care (Matt 4:6, 11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:11). In another, Jesus is the hen that would gather her chicks to protect them—even at the cost of his own life—if they would but come under his “wings” (Matt 23:29–39; Luke 13:31–35; πτέρυγες).3


1 Perhaps also in the background of this interchange is an exegetical tradition about Massah like that represented in Tg. Ps.-J. Exod 17:6: “Behold, I will stand before you there at the place where you saw the mark of the foot on the rock at Horeb” (Kaufman, Pseudo-Jonathan; האנא קאים קדמך תמן באתרא דתיחמי רושם ריגלא על טינרא בחורב). Thus, on the targumist’s reading, “the foot” (ריגלא) had apparently come into contact with “the rock at Horeb” (טינרא בחורב) with sufficient force to leave a “mark” (רושם).

2 Cf. Augustine, Enarrat. Ps., 40.5 (Schaff, NPNF1, 8:121).

3 Cf. Augustine, Enarrat. Ps., 91.5 (ibid., 8:447); Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 570–72.

Biblical Theology Bulletin 43, no. 3

Image:BTB vol 40 no 1.gif
Biblical Theology Bulletin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The next issue of the Biblical Theology Bulletin is set to include:

  • Carey Walsh, “Where Did God Go?: Theophanic Shift in Exodus”
  • Mark T. Finney, “Servile Supplicium: Shame and the Deuteronomic Curse—Crucifixion in Its Cultural Context”
  • Dennis C. Duling, “Paul’s Aegean Network: The Strength of Strong Ties”
  • Lee A. Johnson, “Social Stratification”

 

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 56, no. 1

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Image via Wikipedia

The latest issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society arrived in yesterday’s mail and includes the following:

  • Paul House, “Investing in the Ruins: Jeremiah and Theological Vocation”
  • Daniel Block, “‘What Do These Stones Mean?’: The Riddle of Deuteronomy 27”
  • Paul Tanner, “The Cost of Discipleship: Losing One’s Life for Jesus’ Sake”
  • Greg Rhodea, “Did Matthew Conceive a Virgin?: Isaiah 7:14 and the Birth of Jesus”
  • Daniel Wallace, “Sharp’s Rule Revisited: A Response to Stanley Porter”
  • Stanley Porter, “Granville Sharp’s Rule: A Response to Daniel Wallace, Or Why a Critical Book Review Should Be Left Alone”
  • Daniel Wallace, “Granville Sharp’s Rule: A Rejoinder to Stan Porter”
  • Walter Schultz, “Jonathan Edwards’s Concept of an Original Ultimate End”
  • Shawn Bawulski, “Reconciliationism, a Better View of Hell: Reconciliationism and Eternal Punishment”

S. R. Driver on Google Books

Reverend Samuel Rolles Driver (1846–1914; Photo credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich)

Google Books has full-text PDFs freely available for the following works by S. R. Driver:

BibTeX-formatted bibliography information for these texts is available here.

In the Mail: Tigay, Deuteronomy

Tigay, "Deuteronomy"

The volume has been available for quite some time, but in yesterday’s mail arrived Jeffrey Tigay’s Deutronomy (The JPS Torah Commentary, 1996). According to the publisher,

The JPS Torah Commentary series guides readers through the words and ideas of the Torah. Each volume is the work of a scholar who stands at the pinnacle of his field.

Every page contains the complete traditional Hebrew text, with cantillation notes, the JPS translation of the Holy Scriptures, aliyot breaks, Masoretic notes, and commentary by a distinguished Hebrew Bible scholar, integrating classical and modern sources.

Each volume also contains supplementary essays that elaborate upon key words and themes, a glossary of commentators and sources, extensive bibliographic notes, and maps.

For this volume, I am grateful to this blog’s wonderful readers and the excellent folks at the Westminster Bookstore.

The (Hermeneutical) Rule of Love

Mark 12:28–30 reports Jesus’ citation of Deut 6:4–5 as Torah’s preeminent commandment and of Lev 19:18 as the commandment of next greatest standing (cf. Matt 22:34–40; Luke 10:25–28). Jesus’ expansion of Deuteronomy’s בכל־מאדך (Deut 6:5; ἐξ ὅλης τῆς δυνάμεώς σου; with all your might) into ἐξ ὅλης τῆς διανοίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ἰσχύος σου (Mark 12:30; with all your mind and with all your strength)1 is in step with Deuteronomy’s original formulation (cf. Mark 12:33a) but perhaps stresses still further יהוה’s comprehensive claim on the affections of the command’s addressees.2 Not surprisingly, these commands’ importance also provides further, mutually-reinforcing suggestions about readings of Israel’s scriptures, including ones that privilege the love of יהוה and even of one’s potentially disagreeable neighbor over any burnt offering or sacrifice (Mark 12:32–34).3


1. The Lucianic texts that expand Deuteronomy’s normal three terms into four likely do so because of Christian influence (France, Mark, 479–80).

2. Bock, Jesus according to Scripture, 331; Bruce, “Synoptic Gospels,” 424–25; Ladd, Theology of the New Testament, 131; Lane, Mark, 432–33; cf. Augustine, Confessions, 10.29.

3. Heil, “The Temple Theme in Mark,” CBQ 59, no. 1 (1997): 76–77; Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 304–5, 335, 566–67. Similarly, Augustine, Doctr. chr., 1.36 (NPNF1 2:533), suggests that “[w]hoever . . . thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand them as he ought” (cf. Didache, 11.2). See also Augustine, Doctr. chr., 1.40 (NPNF1 2:534).