Monday, September 15, 2008

The Tricks of Satan

In the last entry, I started on the theme of "twisting Scripture" (in that case, I stressed the importance of word-for-word exegesis).

Probably the most powerful case of this is in the temptation of Jesus in the desert. There are accounts of this in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13. Luke uses a different order for the last two events, not sure why. Matthew has a subset of the portion corresponding to Psalm 91:11, I will use Luke for completeness.

The first challenge is (Matthew 4:3, c.f. Luke 4:3):
"And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."
This seems a simple one, putting physical needs before spiritual needs (the need to do God's will).

The second challenge is the one I wish to focus on (Matthew 4:6, c.f. Luke 4:10-11):
"And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in [their] hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."
Here we can see Satan quoting from Psalm 91:11-12. The original Psalm is in Hebrew, while the New Testament is in Greek, so an exact comparison is difficult. However, the NT writers often quote the LXX, which is Greek.

Psalm 91:11 (LXX):
ὅτι τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται περὶ σοῦ τοῦ διαφυλάξαι σε ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς σου·
(verse 12 matches Luke 4:11 [after the first two words], and Matthew 4:6c)

Luke 4:10 (and first two words of 4:11):
οτι τοις αγγελοις αυτου εντελειται περι σου του διαφυλαξαι σε και οτι
while Matthew 4:6b is:
οτι τοις αγγελοις αυτου εντελειται περι σου και
The change is at the end:
ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς σου· ("in all your ways")
σε και οτι ("you and that")
The original Psalm is saying "Because angels themselves are commanded to protect you in all of your ways". Satan has left off the portion "in all your ways". We should remember that we are told to make God's Way our way. Clearly, Satan didn't want any part of that...

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