dianoigo blog
Showing posts with label Gospels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gospels. Show all posts

Wednesday 17 August 2016

All the amēn sayings of Jesus in a table

I've lately being doing some analysis of Jesus' amēn sayings. Jesus' tendency in the Gospels to begin sayings with amēn legō humin ('Truly I say to you') is one of the most distinctive features of his teaching style, and undoubtedly historically authentic.1 There is scholarly debate over whether this saying formula was unique to Jesus,2 as well as its linguistic background. One intriguing hypothesis is that Jesus took it from the expression ē/ei mēn in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible)3 and translated it into Aramaic, whence it was transliterated back into Greek.4 New Testament scholars are generally agreed that the formula adds emphasis and solemnity to a saying.5 

I would not want to suggest that sayings of Jesus prefaced with the amēn formula are of a different order of importance from those prefaced simply with 'I say to you'. Nevertheless, in honour of this distinctive and majestic formula used by our Lord, I am reproducing in a single table all of the amēn sayings of the Gospels. I hope it may prove useful for further study. The sayings are quoted in the World English Bible, not because it is such a great translation but because the table was generated using a computer program, and the World English Bible is freely available in a text file format, which facilitated this.

There are 79 amēn sayings all together.6 Where an identical or nearly identical amēn saying occurs in multiple Gospels, it is quoted only once, but the parallel is noted.7 Hence there are 63 entries in the table. A few linguistic and statistical notes about the sayings are included beneath the table for those who may be interested.

Some think the amēn sayings are Christologically significant, telling us something profound about Jesus' self-understanding. I tend to agree. It is quite possible that the use of this emphatic formula contributed to the crowds' reaction to Jesus' teaching recorded in Matt. 7:28-29: 'And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.'

World English Bible Translation
Matt. 5:18
For most certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished.
Matt. 5:26
Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are with him in the way; lest perhaps the prosecutor deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison. Most certainly I tell you, you shall by no means get out of there, until you have paid the last penny.
Matt. 6:2
Therefore when you do merciful deeds, don't sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may get glory from men. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward.
Matt. 6:5
"When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward.
Matt. 6:16
"Moreover when you fast, don't be like the hypocrites, with sad faces. For they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen by men to be fasting. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward.
Matt. 8:10
When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to those who followed, "Most certainly I tell you, I haven't found so great a faith, not even in Israel.
Matt. 10:15
Most certainly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.
Matt. 10:23
But when they persecute you in this city, flee into the next, for most certainly I tell you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man has come.
Matt. 11:11
Most certainly I tell you, among those who are born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptizer; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.
Matt. 13:17
For most certainly I tell you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which you see, and didn't see them; and to hear the things which you hear, and didn't hear them.
Matt. 17:20
He said to them, "Because of your unbelief. For most certainly I tell you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
Matt. 18:13
If he finds it, most certainly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.
Matt. 18:18
Most certainly I tell you, whatever things you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever things you release on earth will have been released in heaven.
Matt. 18:19
Again, assuredly I tell you, that if two of you will agree on earth concerning anything that they will ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven.
Matt. 19:23
Jesus said to his disciples, "Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty.
Matt. 19:28
Jesus said to them, "Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Matt. 21:31
Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Most certainly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into the Kingdom of God before you.
Matt. 23:36
Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city; that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom you killed between the sanctuary and the altar. Most certainly I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Matt. 24:2
But he answered them, "You see all of these things, don't you? Most certainly I tell you, there will not be left here one stone on another, that will not be thrown down."
Matt. 24:47 (par. Luke 12:448)
"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has set over his household, to give them their food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord finds doing so when he comes. Most certainly I tell you that he will set him over all that he has.
Matt. 25:12
Afterward the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' But he answered, 'Most certainly I tell you, I don't know you.'
Matt. 25:40
"The King will answer them, 'Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
Matt. 25:45
"Then he will answer them, saying, 'Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn't do it to one of the least of these, you didn't do it to me.'
Mark 3:28
Most certainly I tell you, all sins of the descendants of man will be forgiven, including their blasphemies with which they may blaspheme; but whoever may blaspheme against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"
Mark 8:12
He sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Most certainly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation."
Mark 9:1 (par. Matt. 16:28; Luke 9:279)
He said to them, "Most certainly I tell you, there are some standing here who will in no way taste death until they see the Kingdom of God come with power."
Mark 9:41 (par. Matt. 10:42)
For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ's, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward.
Mark 10:15 (par. Matt. 18:3; Luke 18:17)
Most certainly I tell you, whoever will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child, he will in no way enter into it."
Mark 10:29-30 (par. Luke 18:29-30)
Jesus said, "Most certainly I tell you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or land, for my sake, and for the sake of the Good News, but he will receive one hundred times more now in this time, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land, with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life.
Mark 11:23 (par. Matt. 21:21)
For most certainly I tell you, whoever may tell this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and doesn't doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is happening; he shall have whatever he says.
Mark 12:43-44 (par. Luke 21:3-410)
He called his disciples to himself, and said to them, "Most certainly I tell you, this poor widow gave more than all those who are giving into the treasury, for they all gave out of their abundance, but she, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on."
Mark 13:28-30 (par. Matt. 24:32-34; Luke 21:29-32)
"Now from the fig tree, learn this parable. When the branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near; even so you also, when you see these things coming to pass, know that it is near, at the doors. Most certainly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things happen.
Mark 14:9 (par. Matt. 26:13)
Most certainly I tell you, wherever this Good News may be preached throughout the whole world, that which this woman has done will also be spoken of for a memorial of her."
Mark 14:18 (par. Matt. 26:21; John 13:21)
As they sat and were eating, Jesus said, "Most certainly I tell you, one of you will betray me--he who eats with me."
Mark 14:25
Most certainly I tell you, I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it anew in the Kingdom of God."
Mark 14:30 (par. Matt. 26:34; John 13:38)
Jesus said to him, "Most certainly I tell you, that you today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times."
Luke 4:24
He said, "Most certainly I tell you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.
Luke 4:25-2611
But truly I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land. Elijah was sent to none of them, except to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
Luke 12:37
Blessed are those servants, whom the lord will find watching when he comes. Most certainly I tell you, that he will dress himself, and make them recline, and will come and serve them.
Luke 23:42-43
He said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom." Jesus said to him, "Assuredly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
John 1:51
He said to him, "Most certainly, I tell you, hereafter you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
John 3:3
Jesus answered him, "Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can't see the Kingdom of God."
John 3:5
Jesus answered, "Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can't enter into the Kingdom of God!
John 3:11
Most certainly I tell you, we speak that which we know, and testify of that which we have seen, and you don't receive our witness.
John 5:19
Jesus therefore answered them, "Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise.
John 5:24
"Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn't come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
John 5:25
Most certainly, I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God's voice; and those who hear will live.
John 6:26
Jesus answered them, "Most certainly I tell you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled.
John 6:32
Jesus therefore said to them, "Most certainly, I tell you, it wasn't Moses who gave you the bread out of heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread out of heaven.
John 6:47
Most certainly, I tell you, he who believes in me has eternal life.
John 6:53
Jesus therefore said to them, "Most certainly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don't have life in yourselves.
John 8:34
Jesus answered them, "Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin.
John 8:51
Most certainly, I tell you, if a person keeps my word, he will never see death."
John 8:58
Jesus said to them, "Most certainly, I tell you, before Abraham came into existence, I AM."
John 10:1
"Most certainly, I tell you, one who doesn't enter by the door into the sheep fold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
John 10:7
Jesus therefore said to them again, "Most certainly, I tell you, I am the sheep's door.
John 12:24
Most certainly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.
John 13:16
Most certainly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, neither one who is sent greater than he who sent him.
John 13:20
Most certainly I tell you, he who receives whomever I send, receives me; and he who receives me, receives him who sent me."
John 14:12
Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father.
John 16:20
Most certainly I tell you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.
John 16:23
"In that day you will ask me no questions. Most certainly I tell you, whatever you may ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.
John 21:18
Most certainly I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked where you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you, and carry you where you don't want to go."

Further statistical and linguistic notes about the sayings
  • Matthew contains the most amēn sayings (31), followed by John (25), Mark (13) and Luke (10). 
  • The Johannine Jesus always uses a double 'amēn amēn'. This double formula doesn't occur outside John except as a textual variant in Matt. 6:2, Luke 4:24, Luke 18:17.
  • In Luke 9:27, 12:44 and 21:32, instead of amēn we find the adverb alēthōs, 'truly'.12 In Luke 4:25 we find ep' alētheias, 'of a truth'. These are the only instances where the (presumed) original Aramaic word אמן has been translated rather than transliterated. They help to confirm the meaning of amēn in the other sayings. I have still counted them as amēn sayings.
  • There are 70 cases where the pronoun 'you' is plural (humin), indicating Jesus is addressing a group, and nine cases where the pronoun 'you' is singular (soi), indicating Jesus is addressing an individual.13 The three individual people who have the distinction of being the addressee of a canonical amēn saying are Peter, Nicodemus, and le bon larron
  • The word order of the formula almost never changes. The only exceptions are Luke 9:27 (where alēthōs occurs at the end rather than the start of the formula - literally 'I say to you truly') and Luke 23:43 (where soi and legō are transposed - literally 'Truly to you I say').


  • 1 'There can be no doubt that the expression is a historically authentic expression of Jesus' (Aune, David E. (1983). Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediterranean World. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p. 165.) I simply mean that historical Jesus is very likely to have actually used such a formula when teaching, while acknowledging that the term 'authentic' has now become very controversial in historical Jesus research. See, e.g., Keith, Chris (2016). The Narratives of the Gospels and the Historical Jesus: Current Debates, Prior Debates and the Goal of Historical Jesus Research. Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 38(4), 426-455.
  • 2 In Hebrew, אמן was generally used responsorially. However, Strugnell draws attention to a 7th century B.C. Hebrew potsherd where the word seems to introduce a saying. He translates: 'and all my brethren will answer for me (i.e., on my behalf), those who were harvesting with me in the heat of the sun, ALL my brethren will answer for me. Truly ('mn), I am innocent of gu[ilt; pray return] my garment' (Strugnell, John (1974). "Amen, I say unto you" in the Sayings of Jesus and in Early Christian Literature. Harvard Theological Review, 67(2), 177-190; here p. 178.) He is responding to other scholars who had claimed that amen is used responsorially here, i.e. 'my brethren will answer me "Amen."' The amēn I say to you formula also occurs in Recension A of the Testament of Abraham, a Jewish pseudepigraphic work. However, it is disputed whether the saying there is independent of Christian influence (Lee, Sang-Il. (2012). Jesus and Gospel Traditions in Bilingual Context: A Study in the Interdirectionality of Language. Berlin: de Gruyter, p. 352). Allison, for instance, thinks it is a Christian interpolation (Allison, Dale C. (2003). Testament of Abraham. Berlin: de Gruyter, p. 389).
  • 3 Both these Greek expressions mean something like 'surely'. For example, 'Say to them, As I live, saith the Lord: surely as ye spoke into my ears, so will I do to you.' (Num. 14:28 LXX, Brenton translation). LXX occurrences of ē mēn are Gen. 22:17; 42:16; Ex. 22:7, 10; Num. 14:23, 28, 35; Job 13:15; 27:3; Isa. 45:23. LXX occurrences of ei mēn are Job 1:11; 2:5; Ezek. 33:27; 34:8; 35:6; 36:5; 38:19.
  • 4 This is argued by Lee (op. cit.). A Septuagint background to the term was originally proposed by Berger, Klaus. (1970). Die Amen-wort Jesu. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  • 5 'There is a consensus that the ἀμήν-formula in the sayings by Jesus in the four gospels refers to emphasis and solemnity.' (Lee, op. cit., p. 356.)
  • 6 amēn occurs as a textual variant in the sayings of Luke 7:9, 7:28 and John 6:56, but since they are excluded in the NA28 critical text, I have not counted them. In Matt. 18:19, some manuscripts lack amēn, but NA28 retains it (albeit in square brackets indicating its dubious authenticity), so I have counted it.
  • 7 If an amēn saying has a parallel in which the word amēn is lacking, this parallel is not cited.
  • 8 NA28 has alēthōs rather than amēn here. However, this is semantically equivalent: alēthōs is a translation whereas amēn is a transliteration. See discussion below.
  • 9 Luke 9:27 has has alēthōs rather than amēn here. However, this is semantically equivalent: alēthōs is a translation whereas amēn is a transliteration. See discussion below.
  • 10 Luke 21:4 has alēthōs rather than amēn here. However, this is semantically equivalent: alēthōs is a translation whereas amēn is a transliteration. See discussion below.
  • 11 Luke 4:25 has ep' alētheias rather than amēn here. However, this is semantically equivalent: alēthōs is a translation whereas amēn is a transliteration. See discussion below.
  • 12 In Luke 9:27, alēthōs occurs at the end of the formula rather than the beginning, and some manuscripts insert hoti before the content of the saying, indicating that the adverb is part of the saying itself, rather than part of the introductory formula. However, NA28 does not retain this hoti, and given that Luke is here relying on Mark 9:1 as a source (where we find an amēn saying), alēthōs is probably playing the role of amēn. In Luke 12:44, some manuscripts have amēn instead of alēthōs. Hence, Luke 21:32 is the only case where we can say with certainty that alēthōs has taken the place of amēn.
  • 13 The nine individual instances are Matt. 5:26, 26:34, Mark 14:30, Luke 23:43, John 3:3, 3:5, 3:11, 13:38, 21:18.

Saturday 20 June 2015

Form, Genre, and Historicity of the Wilderness Temptations of Jesus in the Gospels: A Response to Jonathan Burke (Part 4)

This concludes a series of posts which discuss the literary background to the TS in response to two online articles by Jonathan Burke.

7.       The TS as a Visionary Experience

Within the rubric of historicity, one must consider the question of what sort of experience is described here.[1] Does the TS describe visionary experiences or bodily experiences? The two are not mutually exclusive, of course. Paul, probably referring to his own visionary experience, admits in 2 Cor. 12:2-3 that he is ignorant as to whether the experience was “in the body or out of the body.”  Segal notes,
Paul’s confusion as to whether his ecstatic journey to heaven took place in the body is a rare insight into first-century thinking, since it demonstrates either a disagreement in the community or more likely a first-century mystic’s inability to distinguish between bodily and spiritual journeys to heaven.[2]
In summarizing the characteristics of ancient Jewish and Christian heavenly ascent texts, Gooder notes that some texts “describe a physical ascent in the body.”[3]

It is therefore possible that what is described here is a mystical experience which nonetheless entailed the transportation of Jesus’ body. For the second temptation (in Matthew’s order) requires Jesus’ bodily presence to be meaningful: how else could he be tempted to throw himself down?[4] Similarly, the third temptation seems to require corporeal presence inasmuch as Jesus is tempted to fall down and worship the devil.

In arguing that the TS are visionary in nature, some scholars have drawn a parallel between the TS and another visionary Jesus tradition involving Satan: that of Luke 10:18,[5] which “has usually been regarded as an authentic saying of the historical Jesus.”[6]

We have seen earlier that Schiavo noted parallels between the literary form of the ‘heavenly journey’ and the TS. For him, the characteristics of this form include
the holiness of the one who makes the journey, the ritual of preparation, being led by the spirit or in the spirit, disappearance, the ascent to the highest place, or to the highest heaven, being accompanied by an angel, the vision of angels, of the throne, of what is about to take place… fear, trembling and adoration, the return to earth[7]
He concludes that “There is no doubt that the account of the temptation can be read in the wider context of the heavenly journey,” although there are important differences in content, since Jesus is accompanied by the Devil rather than an angel, and “seems to remain on earth.”[8]

Orlov takes this point further:
Jewish apocalyptic accounts often depict the transportation of human visionaries into the upper realms with the help of angelic guides. In view of these apocalyptic currents, it is striking that in the temptation narrative Satan serves as a psychopomp of Jesus and transports him to high, possibly even the highest, places… In the temptation narrative, Satan seems to be fulfilling similar functions of a transporting angel… It is also important that in both Matthew and Luke, Satan serves not merely as a psychopomp but also as an angelus interpres who literally ‘leads up’ (ἀναγαγὼν αὐτὸν) the visionary and ‘shows him’ (δείκνυσιν αὐτῷ/ἔδεξεν αὐτῷ) the visionary reality, thus fulfilling the traditional functions of interpreting angels in Jewish apocalyptic and mystical accounts.[9]
What is evident from recent scholarly readings of the TS as visionary experiences do not portend well for Burke’s efforts to demythologize the tempter into a psychological impulse or deny that the TS have a narrative function.[10] Burke claims that because I allow the possibility that the temptations are based on a visionary experience of the historical Jesus, I am being inconsistent, having “completely abandoned” my “literalistic hermeneutic.” Specifically, Burke states:
What would Farrar say if confronted with the fact that the Greek word used here for ‘mountain’ means a literal physical mountain, that the verb used for ‘see’ means literally viewing with one’s own physical eyes, that the Greek translated ”all the kingdoms of the world” literally means ”all the kingdoms of the world”, and that to read these terms non-literally in order to justify a specific interpretation of the temptation accounts is therefore invalid?
On the “mountain” issue, one can refer Burke to Donaldson’s study referred to previously (Part 2), which concludes that the Matthean temptation is to be read within the setting of the cosmic mountain motif known from Jewish apocalyptic. Orlov sees the same idea here.[11] As to “all the kingdoms of the world,” one need not insist that this means literally every location on planet earth. This would be equivalent to arguing that, because Gen. 13:14-15 is part of a historical narrative, a consistently literal hermeneutic requires us to limit the scope of the promise exactly to Abram’s field of vision! As Burke should be aware if he has read my previous comments on this text, the land which Yahweh showed Moses according to Deut. 34:1-4 is not visible from Mount Nebo, so that it would require “an airborne experience for Moses to actually see all that the biblical text says he saw in his vision from the summit of Mount Nebo.”[12]

Finally, the “fact” “that the verb used for ‘see’ means literally viewing with one’s own physical eyes” is simply a figment of Burke’s imagination, since no verb meaning ‘see’ occurs in the Gospel TS! The verb that does occur is δείκνυμι, to show, which is used frequently of apocalyptic visions (Zech. 3:1 LXX; Rev. 1:1; 4:1; 17:1; 21:9f; 22:1, 6, 8).[13]

Burke fails to demonstrate why the presence of visionary experiences would be inconsistent with a narrative reading of the TS. In reporting about women who “had seen a vision of angels” (Luke 24:23), did Luke mean to convey that they had not actually seen angels? When we are told in Acts 7:55 that Stephen “saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” does the fact that this was a subjective, visionary experience (apparently no one else present could see Jesus) imply that Jesus did not literally appear to Stephen within the narrative? And, returning to the other ‘mythical’ narratives in the Gospels, if the heavenly voice which declared Jesus to be God’s beloved Son (Mark 1:11; 9:7) is understood as Jesus’ religious experience, does this mean God didn’t actually speak within the narrative? The clear answer in every case is “No,” and the same applies to the TS. Even if the temptations were visionary experiences, this would in no way negate their narrative function, or provide a license for explaining away the devil.

8. Conclusions

Similarities between the TS and haggadic midrash, particularly accounts of righteous biblical figures being tested by supernatural beings, assist us in situating the TS from a history-of-religions perspective. Nevertheless, this is only one component of the literary background. The Gospel TS are widely recognized as mythological narrative, owing in part to the presence of Satan as an active character. Narrative criticism has drawn out the role that Satan plays in the plot of each of the Synoptic Gospels, with the TS functioning as the opening salvo of a cosmic conflict that continues throughout the story. There are different views on the historicity of the TS, with most contemporary scholars regarding the account as rooted in experiences of the historical Jesus but embellished by later Christian tradition. Nevertheless, the Gospels clearly represent the TS as events in the life of Jesus, and for those whose worldview is shaped by Scripture, there is no compelling reason not to take their testimony at face value. The extent to which the TS describe apocalyptic visionary experiences is debatable, but either view on this issue is perfectly consistent with the dominant view that the devil described here is a supernatural personal being.

The consensus of modern scholarship is that Jesus and the early church believed in a supernatural being called Satan and interpreted his experience in the wilderness in terms of conflict with this cosmic enemy. Burke has failed to recognize this only by focusing all of his attention on form criticism and historical criticism of the TS while neglecting narrative criticism as well as scholarship which ascribes a mythological worldview to the historical Jesus. In the end, it is Burke’s exegesis of the TS that is idiosyncratic, as well as vague. Nevertheless, I do want to acknowledge Burke’s work as it has provided me with an impetus to deepen my understanding of the literary background of the TS.

[1] “To affirm the historicity of the temptations does not, however, settle the question of how they were experienced. At least two features suggest that the temptations were some kind of visionary or inward, spiritual experience” (Blomberg, C.L. (1995). Temptation of Jesus. In G.W. Bromiley (Ed.), International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Vol. 4) (pp. 784-786). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p. 785). In contrast to this, Burke appears to regard the idea that the temptation was “visionary” as antithetical to the idea that it is a “historical narrative.”
[2] Segal, A.F. (2008). The Afterlife as Mirror of the Self. In F. Flannery, C. Shantz, & R.A. Werline (Eds.), Experientia: Inquiry into Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Christianity (pp. 19-40). Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, p. 23.
[3] Gooder, P. (2006). Only the Third Heaven? 2 Corinthians 12.1-10 and Heavenly Ascent. London: Bloomsbury, p. 154.
[4] Stein, noting the debate over whether or not the experiences were visionary in some way, states, “Whereas the second [Lukan] temptation does seem to be visionary in some sense (Jesus was shown all the world’s kingdoms in an instant), the natural reading of the other two temptations appears to portray a real experience, and most probably Luke understood them this way” (1993: 144n41). Elsewhere, he states, "the general impression from reading the accounts is that they were objective and involved external events: a real place (the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem) and real, if symbolic, time (forty days and forty nights)...This argues against seeing the temptations as entirely subjective visions or experiences" (Stein, R.H. (1996). Jesus the Messiah: A Survey of the Life of Christ. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, p. 104).
[5] Bird states concerning the TS “the tradition probably relates to the enigmatic saying in Luke 10:18… which comprises a visionary account from Jesus where he intimates Satan’s downfall” (2014: 639). So also Noll, “when he said he saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Lk 10:18), he most likely was referring to his own visionary experience. If such a vision came prior to or as part of his baptism, it would explain both the readiness of Satan to appear to him and his recognition of the tempter” (Noll, S. (2003). Angels of Light, Powers of Darkness: Thinking Biblically About Angels, Satan, and Principalities. Eugene: Wipf & Stock, p. 103.) Puig asserts, “Jesus only had two visions during the whole of his ministry – the first of the opening of the heavens (Mk 1.10) and the second of Satan falling from the heavens (Lk. 10.18)” (Puig I Tàrrech, A. (2010). Jesus: An Uncommon Journey. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, p. 270).
[6] Gathercole, S.J. (2003). Jesus’ Eschatological Vision of the Fall of Satan: Luke 10,18 Reconsidered. Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, 94, 143-163.
[7] Schiavo 2002: 146.
[8] Schiavo 2002: 147.
[9] Orlov, A. (2013). Veneration Motif in the Temptation Narrative of the Gospel of Matthew:
Lessons from the Enochic Tradition. Paper presented at Seventh Enoch Seminar: Enochic Influences on the Synoptic Gospels. Camaldoli, 21-26 July 2013. Accessed at https://www.academia.edu/3626511/Veneration_Motif_in_the_Temptation_Narrative_of_the_Gospel_of_Matthew_Lessons_from_the_Enochic_Tradition
[10] As Blomberg, one of the sources quoted by Burke in support of a visionary interpretation, states, “Christ’s temptations may well have been to a certain degree subjective or visionary, though no less real or diabolical.” (Blomberg, C.L. (2009). Jesus and the Gospels. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, p. 261.
[11] “Several scholars have previously remarked that the mountain here might allude to the place of divine presence and dominion” (Orlov 2013: 16).
[12] Christensen, D.L. (2002). Deuteronomy 21:10-34:12. Mexico City: Thomas Nelson, p. 871.
[13] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 214.