The Brothers Karamazov

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Table Six: Mystery (The Second Temptation)

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.  For it is written:  He will command his angels concerning you, and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone. Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” (Matthew 4: 5-7)


An old man narrows his eyes shrewdly, taking in the full of Ivan’s argument.  “I see… the devil is challenging Christ to solve the mystery of his identity.  If he throws himself off the tower, the angels will come, and the world will know once and for all that he is the Son of God.  In refusing, Christ keeps himself shrouded in mystery.  Again, the Grand Inquisitor accuses Christ of failing to love mankind, for ‘man seeks not so much God as miracles.’ (255). What sort of insensitivity would lead Christ to ignore man’s need for certainty?  He needs for us to prove our love, via our faith, but he won’t provide the same proof in return!”

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