Gospel Lection for March 9 2014; Matthew 4:1-11, comments on the Greek text

Gospel Lection for March 9 2014

Matthew 4:1-11, comments on the Greek text

Mt 4:1   Τότε ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀνήχθη εἰς τὴν ἔρημον ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος, πειρασθῆναι[A] ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου. Then Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit, to be tempted by the devil.
Mt 4:2   καὶ νηστεύσας ἡμέρας[B] τεσσεράκοντα καὶ νύκτας τεσσεράκοντα ὕστερον[C] ἐπείνασεν. And after having fasted forty days and nights, later he was hungry.
Mt 4:3   καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ πειράζων εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Εἰ[D] υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰπὲ ἵνα οἱ λίθοι οὗτοι ἄρτοι γένωνται. And coming forward, the tempter said to him, “If you are the Son of God, speak, so that these stones may become bread.”
Mt 4:4   ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν· Γέγραπται· Οὐκ ἐπ’ ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ὁ ἄνθρωπος, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι ἐκπορευομένῳ διὰ[E] στόματος θεοῦ. But he said in response, “It is written, the human shall not live on bread alone, but on every work proceeding through [the] mouth of God.”
Mt 4:5   Τότε παραλαμβάνει[F] αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν πόλιν, καὶ ἔστησεν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ, Then the devil takes him into the holy city, and stood him on the pinnacle of the temple.
Mt 4:6   καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, βάλε σεαυτὸν κάτω· γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι[G] Τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται περὶ σοῦ καὶ ἐπὶ χειρῶν ἀροῦσίν σε, μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου. And he says to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and on [their] hands they will carry you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Mt 4:7   ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Πάλιν γέγραπται· Οὐκ ἐκπειράσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου. Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not test [the] Lord your God.’”
Mt 4:8   Πάλιν παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν λίαν, καὶ δείκνυσιν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν Again the devil takes him to an exceedingly high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
Mt 4:9   καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Ταῦτά σοι πάντα δώσω, ἐὰν πεσὼν προσκυνήσῃς[H] μοι. And he said to him, “All these things I will give to you, if falling [down] you worship me.”
Mt 4:10 τότε λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ὕπαγε, Σατανᾶ· γέγραπται γάρ· Κύριον τὸν θεόν σου προσκυνήσεις καὶ αὐτῷ μόνῳ λατρεύσεις[I]. Then Jesus says to him, “Go [away], Satan.  for it is written, ‘You shall worship [the] Lord your God, and him alone shall you serve.’”
Mt 4:11 τότε ἀφίησιν αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελοι προσῆλθον καὶ διηκόνουν[J] αὐτῷ. Then the devil leaves him, and look, angels came and began to serve him.

[A] The verb can have a neutral connotation (“tested”) or a negative one (“tempted.”)  It’s a bit ambiguous which is intended here.  The infinitive does not express purposes quite as strongly as a ινα clause would here.

[B] Accusative case with expressions of time indicates duration, answering “how long?”

[C] The aorist case of νηστεύσας already indicates that the fasting took place before the action of the main verb, but this word emphasizes this temporal sequencing.  Cf. the accounts in both Mark and Luke, where the temptation occurs throughout the 40 days of fasting.

[D] The most natural reading of this word is that it assumes the truth of what is being postulated.  “Since” would also be a possible rendering.  The text is not conveying that the Devil is trying to get Jesus to prove to a skeptic that he is the Son of God.

[E] “Through” is a much more commonly attested meaning here than “from,” which the translations tend to prefer (relying more heavily on the previous ἐκπορευομένῳ).  The text here follows the Septuagint of Deut. 8:3.

[F] As happens frequently in Greek narrative, the tense switches to the present for the sake of vividness.  I have translated literally here and throughout this passage.

[G] Here ὅτι is introducing a direct, rather than in indirect quotation (i.e., using “that”).  In Greek, both are possible.

[H] The verb carries the connotation of prostrating oneself before another.

[I] Serve in a cultic or worshipful sense.

[J] An inchoative imperfect, indicating the beginning of continuing action.  The word is commonly used of waiting tables, and carries the connotation of bringing him food.