Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Deliver us from Massah

To sum up: In one section of his passionately rendered, and lamentably unfinished, New Testament Theology titled “What did Jesus expect?” Joachim Jeremias summed up all of his studies of the original meaning of the petition καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν with the words: “The petition for protection from [entering into] πειρασμός is the desperate cry of faith on trial: preserve us from apostasy, keep us from going wrong.” The evidence I have examined in the preceding pages indicates that in this conclusion Jeremias is absolutely right. It is protection from “going wrong” that is the intended object of the “temptation” request. But what we must also conclude, in the light of the evidence I have adduced above, that the nature of the “going wrong” envisaged in the petition is that of the particular sin Israel engaged in at Massah, the grumbling and the disobedience that was tantamount to “putting God to the test.” Therefore, I submit that the original meaning of the “temptation” request is understood only when we see that καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν was intended to be taken as a cry in which the community of believers asks to be protected by God not from experiencing πειρασμός, but from subjecting God to it.—The Disciples’ Prayer, pages 158–59

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