The devil took Jesus
To a very high mountain.
He showed him
All the kingdoms
Of the world
With all their splendor.
He said to him.
I will give you,
If you will fall down,
And worship me.’”
Πάλιν παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν λίαν, καὶ δείκνυσιν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν,
καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ταῦτά σοι πάντα δώσω, ἐὰν πεσὼν προσκυνήσῃς μοι.
This 3rd and final temptation was the 2nd temptation in Luke, chapter 4:5-8. The wording is the same, indicating a shared common source, perhaps Q. This time, the devil took Jesus to an exceeding high mountain (Πάλιν παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν λίαν). He then showed him all the great kingdoms of the world with all their splendor and glory (καὶ δείκνυσιν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν). Then he asked Jesus to worship him. If Jesus fell down and worshipped him (ἐὰν πεσὼν προσκυνήσῃς μοι), the devil would then give all these kingdoms with their glory to him (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ταῦτά σοι πάντα δώσω). Somehow this devil thought that he was in control of all the nations in the world. Perhaps the early followers of Jesus thought that the world outside Jerusalem was under the power of the devil. For many Christians, this seemed like a stupid temptation since God, the Father and his Son, already controlled the world.
Deism sees the transcendent God as starting the world and leaving it alone. This was a common belief in the late 17th and 18th century. God got things started and then left humans alone to take care of things. Some of the American founding fathers had this kind of belief in God.
The Bible is a great book, the “Good Book.” Every time we go back to it, we find new meanings. There is always the sensus plenior, the fuller meaning. The bible texts have more than one meaning. Reading and rereading our favorite passages exposes us to even a greater understanding of life and the world around us. Some stories of the Bible are so interesting, we like to read them more than once.
Some stories are foundational. The American founding fathers had their stories. The Irish often speak of the “Faith of our Fathers”. These stories give us a vision of reality. There is a master narrative around which we organize and give meaning to our lives. In the same way, we live the Christian story about Jesus. Each one of us has a foundation story that gives us an identity in our community. Each business has a foundation story that is part mythic, yet operative. The American Manifest Destiny shows how the story justified the expansion. We are a land of opportunity, based on many stories, maybe within your own family. Everyone can live out their dreams. Creation stories show how we belong to the world and what our purpose for being here is. Isolated reading is not right either. This is not a naive reading, since the stories are inspired blended accounts.
There are many ways to study the Bible, since it is a great book of literature, one of the most studied books of all time. There are Bible study groups all over the world, and throughout the USA. There are many courses on the study of the Bible, from grade school to post graduate classes. Thus, there are a number of technical ways to study the biblical texts. The goal of all critical studies is to discover the meaning and significance of these sacred canonical texts.
Myths are not lies, but stories. Story telling is an important human activity and essential to the life of any society. Myths awaken and maintain an experience of awe in the face of the ultimate religious mystery. Myths explain where the world came from and where it is going. Myths promote virtues and a certain social ethical order. Myths give individuals a role and identity much like our modern psychology. Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) and Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) have shown that myth is not a negative, but a positive part of life. If we did not have religious myths, people would create their own secular myths, like in sports, such as baseball and football.
The Bible is the most published book of all time. A Latin Vulgate copy of the Bible was one of the first books printed on the original German Guttenberg Press in the fifteenth century in 1440. The Bible has been translated into virtually every human language. What a strange great literary work, or more precisely a series of books, that has had a profound effect on the world. In fact, most of the great works of Western European civilization assume some biblical knowledge. The Bible serves as the source book or “Word of God” for over two billion people living today. Thus, the Bible is often considered “the book of books”.