A Common Tradition Underlying the Temptation Pericope of Matthew 4:1–11 and the Qumran Psalm Pesher (4QpPsa, 4Q171)

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Author: David Katzin1
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  • 1 University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Abstract

This study posits that the Temptation pericope of Matt 4:1–11 and the Psalm Pesher (4QpPsa, 4Q171) are based on a common tradition. Underlying this tradition is a dual-tripartite construct of testing/temptation. This is based on the three Pentateuchal wilderness tests encountered by Israel which are identifiable through the root נ–ס–ה/“test:” keeping the law, false prophecy leading to idolatry, and testing God. Conflated, and individually correlated with this, are the three nets of Belial: “fornication,” “wealth,” and “profanation of the Temple,” respectively. Also going beyond the biblical narrative are the Devil acting in circumlocution for God, the venues, forms of testing, and lexicon used in corresponding testing sections of these two texts. Only through Psalm 37, together with its exegesis in 4Q171, is this shared tradition recognized. In conclusion, the provenance and diachronic history of this tradition, which resulted in differing understandings of it, is investigated.

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