01 Mar 1992

The Author

David N. Bivin

David Bivin is founder and editor-in-chief of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., David has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew University until 1969 specializing in Jewish history and literature under professors Menahem Stern, David FlusserShmuel Safrai and Yechezkel Kutscher, and in archaeology under professors Yigael Yadin, Yohanan Aharoni and Michael Avi-Yonah. During those six years, and for many years afterwards, David also studied the Synoptic Gospels with Jerusalem scholar-pastor Robert L. Lindsey.

David has written more than one hundred scholarly and popular articles. Recent scientific articles include the entry “Hebraisms in the New Testament” in Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2013), 2:198-201, and the article “Jesus’ Petros-petra Wordplay (Matt 16:18): Is It Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew?” in The Language Environment of First-century Judaea: Jerusalem Studies in the Synoptic Gospels 2 (JCP 26; ed. Randall Buth and R. Steven Notley; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2014), 375-394. David continues to work on a projected 5,000-page commentary on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, currently being published at JerusalemPerspective.com. David has presented scholarly papers at U.S. and international meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature.

David’s popular book, New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus (Holland, MI: En-Gedi Resource Center), appeared in 2005.

David is a member of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, a think tank made up of Jewish and Christian scholars dedicated to better understanding the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). In the early 1980s, before the School became a legal entity, David coined its name. For many years following the School’s registration in Israel as a nonprofit research institute in 1985, David served as its director and Executive Board chairman.

During the years 1970 to 1981 David directed the Hebrew Language Division of the American Ulpan, and the Modern Hebrew Department of the Institute of Holy Land Studies (later renamed Jerusalem University College) on Mt. Zion. During those years, he authored the video language course, Aleph-Bet: A Beginner’s Introduction to Reading and Writing Hebrew, and co-authored, with the late Robert Goldfarb, Fluent Biblical and Modern Hebrew, a home-study language program.

For twelve years (1987-1999) David published Jerusalem Perspective, a print magazine that presented the life and teachings of Jesus in their original cultural and linguistic settings. In 1999 the magazine evolved into a website, www.jerusalemperspective.com.

Active in Israeli life, David served as a sergeant in an Israeli army reserve infantry unit from 1974 to 1991. He is a member of Jerusalem’s Narkis Street Congregation, where he served as an elder under the pastorate of the late Robert Lindsey. He and his wife Josa (née Keosababian) met and were married at the Narkis Street Congregation in 1969. Today, the Bivins live in the village of Maoz Zion, near Jerusalem.

Photo Copyright Chris de Vries Studio, Zeeland, Michigan
 

David has co-authored several articles including:

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Prayers for Emergencies
2 Comments Print
Date First Published: March 01, 1992
Wild-Animals
Revised: 15-Nov-2012

One of the many results of synoptic research is the discovery of parallels between the sayings of Jesus and those of other Jewish sages. A knowledge of these parallels can provide added insight into what Jesus was teaching.

T

he prayer that Jesus taught his disciples (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4) is viewed by Christians as a model prayer. It is even sometimes suggested that since the Lord’s Prayer can easily be prayed in about half a minute, prayers should be kept to that length. A little Jewish background provides an important perspective on the Lord’s Prayer and removes the notion that all prayers should be short.

Central Prayer

The central prayer in Jewish life and liturgy is known by a number of names: שְׁמוֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה (shemoneh esreh, eighteen), since it originally consisted of eighteen benedictions; עֲמִידָה (amidah, standing), because it is said standing; or simply תְּפִלָּה (tefilah, prayer), the prayer par excellence. It is very ancient, its final version dating from around 90-100 A.D. when a nineteenth benediction was added. (For a new translation of the Amidah prayer, see my “The Amidah Prayer.”)

This prayer is the essential part of the morning, afternoon and evening weekday services in the synagogue. It is said first in a whisper by the worshipers and then recited aloud by the reader. The prayer is composed of three opening benedictions of praise, which include “We will hallow your name in the world as it is hallowed in the highest heavens”; thirteen petitions including petitions for wisdom, healing, forgiveness, deliverance from want and affliction, and for the sending of the Messiah, “the branch of David”; and three concluding benedictions, which include thanksgiving to the “rock of our lives and shield of our salvation” whose “miracles are daily with us,” whose “wonders and benefits occur evening, morning and noon,” and whose “mercies and kindnesses never cease.” A person who is fluent in Hebrew can pray this prayer in about five minutes.

Every Jew is religiously obligated to pray the Eighteen Benedictions daily. Rabban Gamaliel said: “One must say the Eighteen every day” (Mishnah, Berachot 4:3). In times of emergency, however, this obligation is fulfilled by praying a shortened form of the Eighteen:

Rabbi Yehoshua says: “If one is traveling in a dangerous place, he says a short prayer, namely, ‘O Lord, save your people the remnant of Israel; in every time of crisis may their needs not be lost sight of by you. Blessed are you, O Lord, who answers prayer.’” (Mishnah, Berachot 4:4)

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