The temptations of Jesus cast a spell on readers young and old. These temptations are macabre yet triumphant, short yet endless, ominous and dismal yet sacred and hopeful. Scholars have long been obsessed with the attempted seduction of the Saint and the successful sanitation of the Seducer. Where else but from Q could such an enchanting narrative derive?
This book reviews scholarship and examines tradition history to argue that the pericope is more than a wisdom-derived scribal legitimation of the Teacher, a popular (and partially correct) theory about the story’s origin and function in Q. It is a theological summit ascribing a unique sonship to Jesus. With diabolic dialogue in such sacred sites as Zion, Sinai, and the desert, protology and eschatology brew to form a muse on both the wilderness testing of Israel and the primeval testing of Adam. The brief expedition through the cosmos – from desert to empire to sanctuary – demonstrates a lordship of evil in the world, and thus a need for the reign of God and a context for Jesus’ sonship, sermon, prayer, miracles, exorcisms, and even his death and resurrection. The tests present an approved champion (a Son of God), a conflict (a tryst with mortality and cosmic evil), and a conquest (resulting in an enthronement). These narratives, not supplied by Matthew and Luke, are found only in Q.