Interpreting Scripture With Satan? The Devil’s Use Of Scripture In Luke’s Temptation Narrative -- By: David B. Sloan
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Interpreting Scripture With Satan?
The Devil’s Use Of Scripture In Luke’s Temptation Narrative
This article considers Luke’s evaluation of the devil’s interpretation of Psalm 91 in Luke 4:9-11 and offers four lessons regarding Biblical interpretation that can be drawn out of the text: 1) context is key; 2) the dawn of the messianic era enables a greater experience of the Scriptures than was previously the case; 3) the promises of Scripture should not be taken to mean that every experience on earth will match the promise made; and 4) if we use the locutionary meaning of Scripture to produce perlocutionary acts that oppose the intended perlocution of the text, we misuse the text.
Beginning from Moses and from all the Prophets, Jesus interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27).1
In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is both the greatest interpreter of Scripture and the greatest topic of Scripture. Luke concludes his gospel with Jesus opening the minds of the apostles to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45), and he populates the speeches in Acts with apostolic interpretations of Old Testament texts. Clearly one of Luke’s goals in writing is to open the minds of his own audience to understand the Scriptures, and he uses frequent quotations of Scripture by Jesus and the apostles to accomplish this goal. Indeed, the first three times Jesus
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speaks as an adult in Luke’s Gospel, he is quoting Scripture in an encounter with the devil (Luke 4:4, 8, 12). Here we have clues as to how Luke wants his audience to read Scripture. But in the midst of this encounter, the devil, too, offers an interpretation of Scripture (4:9-11). How does Luke want his audience to evaluate the devil’s interpretation? This paper will answer this question by first considering the importance of context for Jesus’s interpretation of Scripture in the temptation narrative; then examining the numerous ways in which the devil’s use of Psalm 91 plays off of the historical, literary, and canonical contexts of Psalm 91; and finally exploring Luke’s assessmen...
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