Lord’s Prayer

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David Bivin and Joshua Tilton envision how the Lord's Prayer might have been formulated in its original language and explore the ancient Jewish context to which the Lord's Prayer belongs.

Matt. 6:9-15; Mark 11:25; Luke 11:1-4
(Huck 30, 146, 201b; Aland 62, 185, 275b; Crook 43-44, 210, 311)[1]

Revised: 17-October-2018

וַיְהִי בִּהְיוֹתוֹ בִּמְקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל וּכְכַלֹּתוֹ אָמַר לוֹ תַּלְמִיד אֶחָד מִתַּלְמִידָיו אֲדוֹנֵנוּ לַמְּדֵנוּ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל כְּשֵׁם שֶׁיוֹחָנָן לִמֵּד אֶת תַּלְמִידָיו וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם כְּשֶׁאַתֶּם מִתְפַּלְּלִים אִמְרוּ אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם יִתְקַדֵּשׁ שִׁמְךָ תָּבֹא מַלְכוּתְךָ יֵעָשֶׂה רְצוֹנְךָ בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ אֶת לֶחֶם חֻקֵּנוּ תֵּן לָנוּ הַיּוֹם וּמְחוֹל לָנוּ עַל חֹבוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁאַף אָנוּ מָחַלְנוּ לְחַיָּבֵינוּ וְאַל תְּבִיאֵנוּ בְּנִסָּיוֹן אֶלָּא הַצִּילֵנוּ מִן הָרָע

On one occasion, Yeshua was praying at a certain location. After he finished his prayers, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as Yohanan the Immerser taught his disciples to pray.” So Yeshua told them, “When you pray, say: ‘Heavenly Father, may you be praised throughout the earth by everyone—including us! Reign soon over everyone—and over us, as well! May your will be done everywhere—and in our lives, too! Give us what’s necessary for the day ahead, neither more nor less than we need! Forgive the things we can’t make up to you, since even we forgive the things others ought to make up to us. Don’t let us fall when we’re tested, but rescue us from bad things that might occur.’”[2]


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Reconstruction

To view the reconstructed text of the Lord’s Prayer click on the link below:

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Story Placement

The author of Matthew, who preferred to organize his Gospel into long discourses composed of sayings that were scattered throughout his sources, incorporated the Lord’s Prayer into the Sermon on the Mount, but it is unlikely that the Sermon on the Mount was the original context of the Lord’s Prayer. This can be seen from the fact that the Lord’s Prayer disturbs the natural flow of the three topics: “When you give alms [Matt. 6:1-4]…when you pray [Matt. 6:5-8]…when you fast [Matt. 6:16-18]….”[3] In Luke, on the other hand, the Lord’s Prayer is given in response to the disciples’ request that Jesus teach them to pray (Luke 11:1), which became the impetus for an extended teaching on prayer (Luke 11:2-13).

It appears that the author of Luke copied this block of material on prayer from the Anthology (Anth.), which preserved a nearly intact teaching complex on prayer. In this conjectured complex Jesus not only taught his disciples what to pray, he also gave the disciples instruction regarding the character of the God to whom they prayed. For an overview of this conjectured literary complex, which we have entitled “How to Pray,” click here. We have placed this reconstructed complex in the section of the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua entitled “Calling and Training Disciples.”

 

Click here to view the Map of the Conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

 

Conjectured Stages of Transmission

Our statement above that the author of Luke copied the block of material on prayer that comprises Luke 11:1-13 from Anth., must be modified slightly. It appears that for the text of the prayer itself (Luke 11:2b-4) the author of Luke relied instead upon the First Reconstruction (FR), since, compared to Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, Luke’s version is much less Hebraic and far more congenial to a non-Jewish, Greek-speaking audience.[4]

Because Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer is shorter and simpler than Matthew’s, many scholars have assumed that Luke’s version represents a more primitive and original form of the Lord’s Prayer. These scholars usually assume that the author of Matthew added the Jewish elements not found in Luke’s version to the Lord’s Prayer in order to appeal to his Jewish or Jewish-Christian audience. However, Judaizing texts is contrary to Matthew’s redactional method, who, given the opportunity, imparted his sources an anti-Jewish slant.[5] When a Matthean version of a pericope is more “Jewish” or more Hebraic, therefore, this is more likely due to his use of a Hebraic source (i.e., Anth.) than to a Judaizing redactional tendency on the part of the author of Matthew.[6] Thus, we conclude that Matthew’s more Hebraic version of the Lord’s Prayer reflects the more primitive and original form as it was preserved in Anth.[7]

Matthew’s version of the prayer is nearly identical to another early attestation of the Lord’s Prayer that was preserved in the Didache, a late first-century or early second-century C.E. composition, also known as the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.[8] The Didache’s version of the Lord’s Prayer reads:

Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου, ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου, γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς˙ τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον, καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὴν ὀφειλὴν ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφίεμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν, καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ˙ ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας.

Our Father who is in heaven, may your name be sanctified, may your Kingdom come, may your will be done, as in heaven also upon earth. Our daily bread give to us today, and forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors, and do not lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil, because yours are the power and glory into eternity. (Did. 8:2)

Flusser and van de Sandt contend that the Didache’s version of the Lord’s Prayer does not depend on the canonical Gospels: “On the contrary, it makes more sense to assume that he [i.e., the Christian editor of this section of the Didache—DNB and JNT] is citing the liturgical, that is, the oral form of public prayer…. The agreements between Matthew and the Didache are to be assigned, then, to the liturgical tradition they have in common.”[9] If their assessment is correct, then the Didache is an important independent witness to the wording of the Lord’s Prayer at an early stage.

The hypothesis that the Lukan and Matthean versions of the Lord’s Prayer represent independent translations of a single Hebrew (or Aramaic) original fails to explain the verbal agreements that are common to the two versions, especially the problematic phrase τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον (“our bread [for] the coming [day]”; Matt. 6:11; Luke 11:3; Did. 8:2; L16).[10] It is practically inconceivable that two Greek translators would have independently chosen to render the Hebrew or Aramaic behind this phrase using the same adjective, ἐπιούσιος (epiousios), which, in all of Greek literature, occurs only in the Lord’s Prayer. It is much more likely that the Matthean and Lukan versions are based on a common Greek translation, and that this Greek version was either expanded and Hebraized by the author of Matthew (or his source), or abridged and Grecized by the author of Luke (or his source). We believe the latter scenario is more likely; Matthew’s version is closer to the original Greek translation of the Lord’s Prayer, whereas Luke’s version is based on a redacted version of the original Greek translation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Crucial Issues

  1. Did Jesus teach his disciples to pray in Hebrew or Aramaic?
  2. Did Jesus intend the Lord’s Prayer for public or private use?
  3. Did Jesus transcend the bounds of Judaism when he taught his disciples to address God as “Father”?
  4. What is the meaning of the petition for “daily bread”?
  5. “Debts” or “trespasses”—which is it?
  6. Deliver us “from evil” or “from the Evil One”—which is it?

Comment

L1-9 The Matthean version of the Lord’s Prayer lacks a narrative introduction such as the one recorded in Luke, but this is because the author of Matthew incorporated the Lord’s Prayer into the Sermon on the Mount. On the other hand, the disciples’ request described in Luke 11:1 is historically plausible,[11] and although Luke’s introduction presents the Hebrew reconstructor with a few challenges (on which, see below), they are not so severe as to rule out the possibility that the narrative framework ultimately goes back to a Hebrew source. Probably the narrative introduction to the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11:1 was redacted by the author of Luke, who attempted to polish the Greek style of his source.[12]

L1 καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτὸν (Luke 11:1). The construction καὶ ἐγένετο + intervening time phrase + finite verb (here, εἶπεν in L4) is a Hebraic structure[13] not typical of the author of Luke’s personal writing style, since it never appears in the second half of Acts,[14] where Luke’s personal style is most clearly on display. The καὶ ἐγένετο + intervening time phrase + finite verb construction is rather an indication that the author of Luke depended on a source with Hebraic features. Despite his redactional activity, signs of an underlying Hebrew substratum still shine though Luke’s introduction to the Lord’s Prayer.

וַיְהִי בִּהְיוֹתוֹ (HR). The construction ἐν τῷ εἶναι + pronoun occurs 6xx in LXX,[15] and in each of those instances it is the translation of בִּהְיוֹתוֹ (bihyōtō, “in his being”), בִּהְיוֹתֵנוּ (bihyōtēnū, “in our being”), בִּהְיוֹתְכֶם (bihyōtechem, “in your being”) or בִּהְיוֹתָם (bihyōtām, “in their being”). An exact parallel to our reconstruction in L1 is found in the early chapters of Genesis:

וַיְהִי בִּהְיוֹתָם בַּשָּׂדֶה וַיָּקָם קַיִן אֶל הֶבֶל אָחִיו וַיַּהַרְגֵהוּ

And it was in their being in the field, and Cain rose against Abel, his brother, and slew him. (Gen. 4:8)

καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πεδίῳ καὶ ἀνέστη Καιν ἐπὶ Αβελ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀπέκτεινεν αὐτόν.

And it was in their being in the plain, and Cain rose against Abel, his brother, and slew him. (Gen. 4:8)

Notice that just as in Gen. 4:8 וַיְהִי בִּהְיוֹתָם/καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτούς is followed by the specification of a locality, so in Luke 11:1 καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτόν is immediately followed by the mention of a location.

L2 ἐν τόπῳ τινὶ καὶ προσηύξατο (GR). Whereas Luke 11:1 has the participle προσευχόμενον (prosevchomenon, “praying”), we have conjectured that the pre-synoptic source behind Luke 11:1 read καὶ προσηύξατο (kai prosēvxato, “and he prayed”). We have based this conjecture on the observation that in Gen. 4:8 (see above, Comment to L1) וַיְהִי בִּהְיוֹתָם is followed by another vav-consecutive. The LXX translators rendered this second vav-consecutive as καί + aorist. We suspect that, whereas Anth. (the source behind Luke 11:1) had the more Hebraic καὶ προσηύξατο, the author of Luke changed this to a participle as a minor Greek stylistic improvement.

בִּמְקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל (HR). In LXX the phrase ἐν τόπῳ (en topō, “in a place”) is frequently the translation of בְּמָקוֹם (bemāqōm, “in a place”).[16] The combination of מָקוֹם ‎+ פְּלוֹנִי occurs twice in MT (1 Sam. 21:3; 2 Kgs. 6:8)[17] and is common in rabbinic literature, for instance:

הָאוֹמֵר לִשְׁלוּחוֹ צֵא וְקַדֵּשׁ לִי אִשָּׁה פְלָנֵית בִּמְקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי וְהָלַךְ וְקִדְּשָׁהּ בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר אֵינָה מְקוּדֶּשֶׁת

The one who says to his agent, “Go and betroth to me such-and-such woman in such-and-such place,” and he [i.e., the agent—DNB and JNT] goes and betroths her in a different place—she is not betrothed.[18] (m. Kid. 2:4)[19]

Our reconstruction represents a blend of BH and MH styles, such as is found in the baraita in b. Kid. 66a, which may have come from a written source composed in the first century C.E.[20]

In LXX προσεύχεσθαι (prosevchesthai, “to pray”) is almost always the translation of הִתְפַּלֵּל (hitpalēl, “pray”).[21] Likewise, הִתְפַּלֵּל is translated as προσεύχεσθαι in LXX far more frequently than any other Greek verb.[22]

L3 καὶ ὡς ἐπαύσατο (GR). Simply by adding καί (kai, “and”) to GR, we have achieved a Hebraic-looking structure equivalent to וּכְכַלֹּתוֹ (ūchechalotō, “and as he completed”). We suspect that the author of Luke dropped the καί as a stylistic improvement to the wording of his source (Anth.).

וּכְכַלֹּתוֹ (HR). We considered various options for reconstructing παύειν (pavein, “to stop”), including גָּמַר (gāmar, “finish,” “complete”), הִפְסִיק (hifsiq, “break off”) and כִּלָּה (kilāh, “finish,” “complete”).[23] In MT כִּלָּה is used for completing prayers (1 Kgs. 8:54; 2 Chr. 7:1; cf. Ps. 72:20),[24] and since the LXX translators sometimes used ὡς + παύειν to translate כְּכַלּוֹת in LXX,[25] we consider כִּלָּה to be the best option for HR.

L4 אָמַר לוֹ תַּלְמִיד אֶחָד מִתַּלְמִידָיו (HR). In early rabbinic sources it is more common to encounter the (somewhat redundant) phrase תַּלְמִיד אֶחָד מִתַּלְמִידִים (“one disciple of [the] disciples”)[26] than the more economical אֶחָד מִתַּלְמִידִים (“one of [the] disciples”).[27] Since תַּלְמִיד אֶחָד מִתַּלְמִידִים is the more common way of expressing “one of the disciples” in MH, we have adopted it for HR. A Greek translator encountering this repetitive phrase would naturally translate it as τις τῶν μαθητῶν (“a certain of the disciples”).

Although reconstructing the noun μαθητής (mathētēs, “scholar,” “disciple”) with תַּלְמִיד (talmid, “student,” “disciple”) might seem self-evident, proof supporting this reconstruction is surprisingly hard to come by. The lack of direct evidence for the equation of μαθητής with תַּלְמִיד results from the fact that תַּלְמִיד is a late-BH term that appears only once in MT (1 Chr. 25:8).[28] Instead of rendering the sole occurrence of תַּלְמִיד with a noun, the LXX translators rendered it with the participle μανθάνων (manthanōn, “learning”).[29] However, since μανθάνων is a participial form of the verb μανθάνειν (manthanein, “to learn”),[30] of which μαθητής is a cognate noun, we already have some evidence supporting the equation of μαθητής with תַּלְמִיד.

Indirect evidence for the equation of μαθητής with תַּלְמִיד comes from two main sources: the writings of Josephus and rabbinic literature. Although the Bible never refers to Elisha as a disciple of Elijah, Josephus styled Elisha as Elijah’s μαθητής (Ant. 8:354; 9:28, 33), which is parallel to references to Elisha as תלמידו של אליהו in rabbinic sources (t. Sot. 4:7; Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, BeShallaḥ chpt. 1 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:120]; b. Sot. 13a).

Similarly, while Josephus occasionally refers to an individual as a disciple (μαθητής) of the Pharisees (Ant. 13:289; 15:3), the Men of the Great Assembly, who according to the Mishnah were the forebears of the Pharisaic-rabbinic movement, emphasized the importance of disciple (תַּלְמִיד) making (m. Avot 1:1).[31]

Finally, parallel to the references to Jesus’ disciples (μαθηταί τοῦ Ἰησοῦ) in the Gospels and Acts, a baraita states that Jesus had five disciples (חמשה תלמידים היו לו לישוע הנוצרי; b. Sanh. 43a),[32] and references are made to a certain Yaakov, one of the disciples of Jesus (תלמיד אחד מתלמידי ישו הנוצרי; b. Avod. Zar. 17a).[33] We believe these parallel usages of μαθητής with תַּלְמִיד are sufficient to justify our selection of תַּלְמִיד for HR.

L5 אֲדוֹנֵנוּ לַמְּדֵנוּ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל (HR). In LXX the vocative κύριε (kūrie, “Lord!”) is often the translation of אֲדֹנִי (adoni, “my lord”), the translators frequently omitting an equivalent to the pronominal suffix (see below, Comment to L10).[34] Here we have reconstructed κύριε with אֲדוֹנֵנוּ (adōnēnū, “our lord”), since it is probable that the disciple spoke on behalf of all his fellow disciples (“…teach us to pray…”) and in their presence, rather than in private on his own behalf.

In LXX διδάσκειν (didaskein, “to teach”) is usually the translation of לִמֵּד (limēd, “teach”).[35] We considered two options for reconstructing the imperative δίδαξον ἡμᾶς (didaxon hēmas, “teach us”), namely יְלַמְּדֵנוּ (yelamdēnū, “let him teach us”) and לַמְּדֵנוּ (lamdēnū, “teach us”). Examples of the former option, יְלַמְּדֵנוּ, include the following rabbinic sources:

מעשה בר′ טרפון שהיה מיסב בצילו של שובך במנחה בשבת הביאו לפניו דלי של צונין או′ להם לתלמידיו השותה מים לצמאו מאי מברך אמרו לו ילמדנו רבינו אמ′ להם בורא נפשות וחסרונן אמ′ להם אשאל אמרו לו ילמדנו רבינו אמ′ להם הרי הוא או′ וישבו לאכל לחם וישאו עיניהם ויראו וגו′ והלא אין דרכן של ערביים להיות נושאין אלא עורות ריח רעה ועטרן אלא שנתנו אותו צדיק בין דברים חבובין והלא דברים קל וחומר ומה אם בשעת כעסן של צדיקים מרחמין עליהן בשעת הרחמים על אחת כמה וכמה

An anecdote about Rabbi Tarfon, who was reclining in the shadow of a dovecote during a Sabbath afternoon. They brought him a bucket of cold water and he said to his disciples, “What blessing ought the one who drinks water to slake his thirst recite?” They said to him, “Teach us, Rabbi!” He said to them, “[Blessed is he]…who creates living beings and their needs.” He said to them, “Shall I ask a question?” They said, “Teach us, Rabbi!” He said to them, “The Scriptures say, And they sat down to eat bread and they lifted up their eyes and they saw [and behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, and their camels were bearing gum, and balm, and myrrh, and they were heading down to Egypt (Gen. 37:25)]. And is it not the way of the Arabs to carry nothing but bad-smelling skins and resin? Nevertheless, they [i.e., the Ishmaelites—DNB and JNT] put that righteous person [i.e., Joseph—DNB and JNT] among cherished things. And is this not a matter of kal vahomer? If at a time of wrath toward the righteous they are shown mercy, in a time of mercy will this not be even more surely the case?” (t. Ber. 4:16; Vienna MS)

מעשה בארבעה זקנים שהיו יושבין בבית שער של ר′ יהושע אלעזר בן מתיא חנניא בן כינאי ושמעון בן עזאי ושמעון התימני והיו עסוקין במה ששנה להם ר′ עקיבא מפני מה זכה יהודה למלכות מפני שהודה בתמר…אמ′ להם וכי נותנין שכר על העבירה אלא מפני מה זכה יהודה למלכות…. אמרו לו ילמדנו רבינו אמ′ להם מפני שקידש שמו של הקב″ה על הים

An anecdote about four elders who were sitting in Rabbi Yehoshua’s gatehouse. [They were] Elazar ben Matya, Hananya ben Kinai and Shimon ben Azzai and Shimon the Temanite, and they were occupied with what Rabbi Akiva taught them about why [the tribe of] Judah earned the kingship, “Because he confessed about Tamar?” He said to them, “And do they give a reward for transgression? Of course not. So why did [the tribe of] Judah earn the kingship?”…. They said to him, “Teach us, Rabbi!” He said to them, “It is because [Judah] sanctified the name of the Holy One, blessed be he, at the sea.” (t. Ber. 4:18; Vienna MS)

Examples of the latter option, לַמְּדֵנוּ, are found in a parallel to the sources cited above:

היה רבי טרפון וזקנים יושבין בצלו של שובך של יבנה…אמרו לו רבינו למדנו השותה מים לצמאו כיצד הוא מברך אמר להם בורא נפשות רבות וחסרונן אמרו לו למדתנו רבינו אמרו לו רבינו למדנו באיזו זכות זכה יהודה למלכות

Rabbi Tarfon and the elders were sitting in the shade of a dovecote in Yavneh…they said to him, “Master, teach us what blessing ought the one who drinks water to slake his thirst to recite.” He said to them, “[Blessed is he…] who creates many living beings and their needs.” They said, “You have taught us, master.” They said to him, “Master, teach us with which meritorious deed [the tribe of] Judah earned the kingship.” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, BeShallaḥ chpt. 6 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:156])

Since the address רַבֵּינוּ לַמְּדֵנוּ in this example is closer to the wording of the disciples’ request in Luke 11:1 (κύριε δίδαξον ἡμᾶς), we have chosen the latter of the two options, לַמְּדֵנוּ, for HR.

L6 καθὼς Ἰωάνης ἐδίδαξε (GR). We have omitted the καί after καθώς (kathōs, “as”) in GR, regarding it as a stylistic improvement introduced by the author of Luke. In LXX the combination καθὼς καί occurs only twice in books also included in MT. In both instances (Exod. 34:1; Ps. 77[78]:57) the καί was supplied by the Greek translators and does not correspond to anything in the underlying Hebrew text.

כְּשֵׁם שֶׁיוֹחָנָן לִמֵּד (HR). The construction -כְּשֵׁם שֶׁ (keshēm she-, “just as”) is not found in BH, but is common in MH, which we prefer for reconstructing direct speech. The following story about the first-century B.C.E. Hasid, Honi the circle-drawer, provides an example of -כְּשֵׁם שֶׁ from the Mishnah:

עָלוּ יִשְׂרָאֵ′ מִירוּשָׁ′ לְהַר הַבָּיִת מִפְּנֵי הַגְּשָׁמִים אָמְ′ לוֹ כַּשֵּׁם שֶׁהִתְפַּלַּלְּתָּה עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁיֵּרֵדוּ כָּךְ הִיתְפַּלֵּל שֶׁיֵּלְכוּ לָהֶם

…the Israelites went up from Jerusalem to the Temple Mount because of the rain. They said to him, “Just as you prayed for the rains, that they might fall, so now pray that they will go away!” (m. Taan. 3:8)

Tomson notes that whereas in Matthew and the Didache the Lord’s Prayer appears in polemical contexts where the prayer practices of the “hypocrites” are contrasted with those of Jesus’ followers (Matt. 6:5-6; Did. 8:2), the Lukan context of the Lord’s Prayer is free of antagonism toward the prayer practices of other groups within Judaism.[36] The Lord’s Prayer is not contrasted with, but compared to, the prayers of other first-century Jewish teachers.

Jesus’ disciples made this request at a time prior to the codification of the Eighteen Benedictions of the Amidah under Rabban Gamliel the younger (b. Ber. 28b; b. Meg. 17b), when there was greater fluidity with respect to prayer practices.[37] It appears to have been common in the period before the destruction of the Temple for Jewish teachers to formulate various model prayers for their disciples.[38]

Lord's Prayer-TertullianL9 καὶ ὅταν στήκητε προσευχόμενοι (Mark 11:25). The Gospel of Mark does not contain the Lord’s Prayer, but Mark 11:25 is a distillation of one of the most basic principles contained in the Lord’s Prayer. Since Mark 11:25 contains some un-Hebraic features, including an ἵνα + subjunctive clause, and the use of παράπτωμα (paraptōma, “false step,” “slip,” “blunder”) for “sin,”[39] it seems unlikely that this verse was copied from a Hebraic-Greek source. It seems rather to be the author of Mark’s paraphrase of a principle contained in the Lord’s Prayer. According to Tomson, Mark 11:25 “seem[s] to betray knowledge of the Lord’s Prayer in a primitive form related to the one in Matthew and the Didache.”[40]

כְּשֶׁאַתֶּם מִתְפַּלְּלִים אִמְרוּ (HR). Compare our reconstruction to Rabbi Shimon’s advice:

וּכְשֶׁאַתָּה מִתְפַּלֵּל אַל תַּעַשׂ תְּפִילָּתַךְ קְבַע

And when you are praying do not make your prayer fixed…. (m. Avot 2:13)

On imperatival forms of אָמַר (’āmar, “say”), see Conduct in Town, Comment to L86.

L10 πάτερ ἡμῶν (Matt. 6:9). In normative Koine, we might expect the interjection (ō, “O”) before πάτερ (pater, “Father”), either ὦ πάτερ ἡμῶν (ō pater hēmōn, “O our Father”), or ὦ ἡμῶν πάτερ (ō hēmōn pater, “O our Father”), or even ὦ πάτερ (ō pater, “O Father”) without the possessive pronoun.[41]

Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer merely has πάτερ (pater, “Father”).[42] The omission of ἡμῶν in Luke 11:2 is probably a Greek stylistic improvement introduced by the editor of FR. Even the Greek translators of LXX frequently omitted pronominal suffixes from words such as “lord” and “master” (see below).

אָבִינוּ (HR). Many New Testament scholars assume that since Jesus habitually addressed God as אַבָּא (’abā’, “Abba,” “Father”), he must have instructed his disciples to do the same. Accordingly, these scholars usually conclude that Luke’s version of the opening address in the Lord’s Prayer (“Father” = “Abba”; Luke 11:2) is the more original, while Matthew’s address (“Our Father who is in the heavens”; Matt. 6:9) is an expansion.[43] The assumption that Jesus addressed God as “Abba” is so widely held and is repeated so frequently that it is not uncommon to encounter assertions in scholarly literature that behind every instance of “my Father” on the lips of Jesus stands an original Aramaic “Abba.”[44] These confident assertions notwithstanding, the assumption that Jesus habitually addressed God as “Abba” is actually built on extremely flimsy evidence.

The evidence scholars present for Jesus’ use of “Abba” in reference to God is twofold. First, there is Mark’s version of the prayer in Gethsemane, where Jesus is said to cry out, αββα ὁ πατήρ (“Abba, Father…”; Mark 14:36). Second is the claim that by the time of Jesus the form אָבִי (’āvi, “my father”) had become obsolete, so that if Jesus wanted to refer to God as “Father,” he had no choice but to say “Abba,” whether in Hebrew or Aramaic.[45]

Lord's Prayer Quote 1To take these foundations of the “Abba” thesis in reverse order, the claim that “Avi” (אָבִי) had become obsolete in Hebrew by the time of Jesus is simply false. In DSS the form אָבִי is encountered in ancient,[46] non-sectarian writings such as the Hebrew fragments of Tobit (4QTobe [4Q200] 4 I, 5; 5 I, 3), but אָבִי also appears in the Thanksgiving Hymns (1QHa XVII, 29, 35), which date from the first century B.C.E.[47] Likewise, in rabbinic literature, although אַבָּא (“Abba”) became more common, including in contexts where the meaning is clearly “my father,” the form אָבִי (“Avi”) had by no means disappeared, as the following examples demonstrate:

מכות אלו גרמו לי ליאהב לאבי שבשמים

These injuries caused me to be loved by my Father [אבי] who is in heaven. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Baḥodesh chpt. 6 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:325])[48]

כיון שמת משה היה יהושע בוכה ומצעק ומתאבל עליו במרד והיה אומר אבי אבי רבי רבי אבי שגדלני רבי שלמדני תורה

Upon the death of Moses, Joshua was weeping and crying and mourning over him with bitterness, and he was saying, “My father [אבי]! My father [אבי]! My master! My master! My father [אבי] who raised me! My master who taught me Torah!” (Sifre Deut. §305 [ed. Finkelstein, 327])

יאבד יום אולד בו והלילה אמר הורה גבר. יאבד יום שבא אבי אצל אמי ואמרה לו אני הרה

May the day on which I was born perish, and the night when it was said, “A male baby is born” [Job 3:3]. May the day perish when my father [אבי] came to my mother and she said to him, “I am pregnant.” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 37:13 [ed. Schechter, 112])

מהו ויאמר עשו בלבו אמר קין הרג אחיו ולא עשה לו הקב″ה כלום וסוף שהוליד אדם בנים אחרים וירשו עמו את העולם, אף אני אהרג את אבי תחילה ואחרכך את אחי ואירש את העולם לבדי

What is the meaning of And Esau said in his heart [Gen. 27:41]? He said, “Cain murdered his brother and the Holy One, blessed be he, did nothing to him, and the result was that Adam fathered other children and they inherited the world with him. So I will murder my father [אבי] first and only afterward my brother so that I will inherit the world all to myself.” (Gen. Rab. 75:9 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:888])

In each of the above examples אָבִי appears in normal MH-style sentences. There is no hint that the authors of these sentences were attempting to imitate BH or adopt an archaic style. Rather, these examples show that אָבִי continued to be used in everyday speech. Thus, the second point of the “Abba” thesis fails. If Jesus had wanted to address God as “my Father” in Hebrew, nothing would have required him to say “Abba.” He could just as easily have said “Avi.”

But what about the NT evidence that Jesus did call God “Abba”? Here the evidence is much less unequivocal than many scholars have been willing to admit. Although Mark 14:36 does place “Abba” on Jesus’ lips, the parallels to this verse in Matthew and Luke omit “Abba.”[49] This Lukan-Matthean agreement against Mark strongly suggests that “Abba” did not appear in the pre-synoptic source that stands behind the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Rather than reflecting the actual words spoken by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Abba” in Mark 14:36 may have been added by the author of Mark in order to reflect the prayer practices that had developed in the early Christian communities (cf. Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6) for whom the Gospel of Mark was written.[50] Without Mark 14:36 there would be no reason to suppose that Jesus ever addressed God as “Abba.” While Mark 14:36 raises the interesting possibility that Jesus did refer to God as “Abba” on one occasion, it hardly provides solid grounds for supposing that Jesus habitually referred to God as “Abba,” or that he taught his disciples to refer to God in this way, or that Luke preserves the more original form of the opening address of the Lord’s Prayer.

Even if we agreed that Luke’s simple address—πάτερ (“Father”) without the possessive pronoun—is more original than Matthew’s πάτερ ἡμῶν (“Our Father”), אָבִינוּ (’āvinū, “Our Father”) would remain a more probable option for HR than אַבָּא (“Abba”), since Greek translators of Hebrew texts often omitted translating pronominal suffixes attached to words such as “father,”[51] “mother,”[52] “son,”[53] “daughter,”[54] “brother”[55] and “lord.”[56]

From the perspective of Lindsey’s hypothesis, however, it is much more likely that either the author of Luke or, more probably, his source (FR) simply dropped the possessive pronoun ἡμῶν (hēmōn, “our”) from the opening address in order to produce a more polished Greek version of the Lord’s Prayer.

On reconstructing πατήρ (patēr, “father”) with אָב (’āv, “father”), see Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L5.

L11 ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (Matt. 6:9). Matthew’s “in the heavens [plur.]” is a Hebraism.[57] Normal Greek idiom preferred the singular, as the Didache’s reading, ὁ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ (“the one in the heaven [sing.]”; Did. 8:2), demonstrates.[58]

Although Jeremias believed that Luke’s version, which omits the phrase “who art in heaven,” is more original,[59] Flusser offered a cogent explanation for why Luke (or his source) might have been motivated to drop ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. Since Luke’s Gospel is addressed to Gentile readers, “purely Jewish, especially rabbinical material” was eliminated in order to avoid misunderstanding. As Flusser explained, in the time of Jesus Greek-speaking Gentiles “no longer believed that the gods resided in heaven. If they had perceived that [what] the new religion now offered to them was so retrograded, they would not have been prone to accept the Christian message.”[60] This motivation fits well with the tendency of FR to remove overt Hebraisms that might be incomprehensible to Greek speakers.

שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם (HR). The phrase אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם (“our Father who is in heaven”) also occurs in rabbinic literature.[61] Thus, when Jesus taught the disciples to address God as “our Father who is in heaven,” he used the same vocabulary as the Jewish sages.

L12 יִתְקַדֵּשׁ שִׁמְךָ (HR). Sanctifying God’s name means causing God’s reputation to be honored.[62] We have already cited one rabbinic source in Comment to L5 that elucidates the meaning of this petition. According to Rabbi Akiva, the tribe of Judah was given the honor of kingship because its members sanctified God’s name on the shores of the Red Sea (t. Ber. 4:18). The tribe of Judah sanctified God’s name by obeying God’s command to enter the sea, which, according to rabbinic tradition, the other tribes were afraid to do.

Lord's Prayer Quote 5Judah’s daring action on the shore of the Red Sea is an example of the Jewish concept of קִדּוּשׁ הַשֵּׁם (qidūsh hashēm), “sanctifying the name.”[63] In later Jewish sources “sanctifying the name” came to refer specifically to martyrdom, but as Safrai has shown, “sanctifying the name” originally referred to obeying God’s commandments, especially under difficult circumstances.[64]

In some ancient Jewish sources God sanctifies his own name by redeeming his people through miraculous interventions that cause the nations to recognize God’s greatness and power, as in the following rabbinic discussion:

ומנין שלא הביא המקום פורענות ולא הביא עשר מכות על פרעה ועל מצרים אלא בשביל לקדש את שמו הגדול בעולם, שמתחלת הענין הוא אומר מי ה′ אשר אשמע בקולו ובסוף הענין אמר ה′ הצדיק ואני ועמי הרשעים ומנין שלא עשה המקום נסים וגבורות על הים ועל הירדן ועל נחלי ארנון אלא בשביל לקדש את שמו בעולם שנאמר ויהי כשמוע כל מלכי האמורי אשר בעבר הירדן ימה וכל מלכי וגו′ וכן רחב אומרת לשלוחי יהושע כי שמענו את אשר הוביש ה′ את מי ים סוף מפניכם תלמוד לומר כי שם ה′ אקרא. ומנין שלא ירד דניאל לגוב אריות אלא בשביל שיעשה לו הקדוש ברוך הוא נסים וגבורות ובשביל לקדש שמו הגדול בעולם שנאמר כי שם ה′ אקרא, ואומר מן קדמי שים טעם די בכל שולטן מלכותי ליהוון זיעין ודחלין מן קדם אלהא די דניאל ומנין אתה אומר שלא ירדו חנניה מישאל ועזריה לתוך כבשן האש אלא כדי שיעשה להם הקדוש ברוך הוא נסים וגבורות בשביל לקדש את שמו הגדול בעולם שנאמר אתיא ותמיהיא דיעבד עמי אלהא עילאה שפר קדמי להחויא, ואומר אתוהי כמה רברבין ותמהוהי כמה תקיפין

And whence do we learn that God brought punishment and the ten plagues upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt only in order to sanctify His great name in the world? From the fact that at the beginning of the matter Pharaoh says, Who is the Lord, that I should hearken unto his voice? (Exod. 5:2), but at the conclusion of it he says, The Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked (Exod. 9:27).

And whence do we learn that God worked miracles and mighty deeds at the (Red) Sea, and at the Jordan, and at the valleys of Arnon only in order to sanctify His name in the world? From the verse, And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan westward, and all the kings (of the Canaanites, that were by the sea, heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel, until they were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was their spirit in them any more) (Josh. 5:1). Similarly Rahab says to Joshua’s messengers, For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you (when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, unto Sihon and to Og, whom ye utterly destroyed) (Josh. 2:10). Therefore the verse here states, For I will proclaim the name of the Lord. And whence do we learn that Daniel went down into the lions’ den only so that the Holy One, blessed be He, might work miracles and mighty deeds for him and in order to sanctify His great name in the world? From the verses, For I will proclaim the name of the Lord, and I make a decree, that in all the dominions of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel…. (He worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth) (Dan. 6:27-28). And whence do we learn that Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah went down into the fiery furnace only so that the Holy One, blessed be He, might work miracles and mighty deeds in order to sanctify His great name in the world? From the verse, It hath seemed good unto me to declare the signs and wonders that God Most High hath wrought toward me…. How great are his signs! And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom (Dan. 3:32-33). (Sifre Deut. §306 [ed. Finkelstein, 342-343]; trans. Hammer)

The above passage demonstrates that there is a certain reciprocity to the rabbinic concept of “sanctifying the name.”[65] God performed miracles on Israel’s behalf in order to win renown among the nations, but on the other hand, individuals like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (a.k.a. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) faithfully endured times of testing in order for God’s name to be sanctified. Anyone who prays for God to sanctify his name must be prepared to accept trials and suffering for the sake of God’s name.

The passive voice in this petition suggests that Jesus encouraged his disciples to pray for God’s intervention in history to redeem Israel. Just as God sanctified his name in the past by leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land, accomplishing this through miraculous signs and wonders, the disciples prayed that God would again intervene with miraculous power to liberate Israel.

This petition for God to act, and the willingness to patiently endure hardships for the sake of Israel’s redemption, are diametrically opposed to zeal ideology, which held that liberation could be achieved through direct political action. Militant Jewish nationalists hoped that by taking matters into their own hands they could provoke God to act on Israel’s behalf. Jesus’ petition for God to sanctify his name is consistent with his message of peace.[66]

We have used הִתְקַדֵּשׁ (hitqadēsh, “be sanctified”) to reconstruct the passive form of the verb ἁγιάζειν (hagiazein, “to sanctify”). Numerous instances of הִתְקַדֵּשׁ occur in rabbinic literature, as in the following examples:

הָאוֹמֵר לָאִשָּׁה הִתְקַדְּשִׁי לִי בִתְמָרָה זוֹ הִתְקַדְּשִׁי לִי בָזוֹ…אִם יֵשׁ בְאַחַת מֵהֶן שׁוֶֹה פְרוּטָה מְקוּדֶּשֶׁת וְאִם לָאיו אֵינָה מְקוּדֶּשֶׁת

The one who says to a woman, “Be sanctified [i.e., become engaged—DNB and JNT] to me with this date or with this…,” if any of them has the value of a perutah she is sanctified [i.e., engaged to be married—DNB and JNT], and if not, she is not engaged. (m. Kid. 2:1)

הָאִשָּׁה מִתְקַדֶּשֶׁת בְּדִינַר וּבְ′שׁוֶֹוה דִינָר כְּדִבְרֵי <בֵית שַׁמַּיִ> וּבֵית הֶלֵּל אוֹ′ בִּפְרוּטָה וּבְשׁוֶֹה פְרוּטָה

A woman is sanctified [i.e., becomes engaged—DNB and JNT] with a dinar or the value of a dinar. This is the view of the School of Shammai. But the School of Hillel says, “with a perutah or the value of a perutah.” (m. Edu. 4:7; cf. m. Nid. 5:4)

Although in the examples cited above הִתְקַדֵּשׁ appears in the context of contracting marriages, the basic meaning of setting something or someone aside for special honor is the same as in HR. Examples of הִתְקַדֵּשׁ in reference to sanctifying God’s name include the following:

רבי יהודה בר יחזקאל אמר אבא מברך על ירידת גשמים יתגדל ויתקדש ויתברך ויתרומם שמך מלכינו על כל טיפה וטיפה שאת מוריד לנו שאת ממניען זו מזו שנאמר כי יגרע נטפי מים יזקו מטר לאדו

Rabbi Yehudah bar Yehezkiel[67] said, “Father would recite this blessing when it rained: ‘May your name be magnified, sanctified, blessed and exalted, O our king, for every drop that you cause to descend on us you keep separate from all the others, as it is said, he draws up the drops of water, he refines the rain into his mist [Job 36:27].’” (y. Ber. 9:2 [65b]; cf. y. Taan. 1:3 [4b])

אמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יהוצדק מוטב שתעקר אות אחת מן התורה ויתקדש שם שמים בפרהסיא

Rabbi Yohanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yehozadak,[68] “It is good that one letter be uprooted from the Torah in order that the name of Heaven be sanctified in public.” (b. Yev. 79a)

יתגדל ויתקדש שמו של הקב″ה בעולם כולו שברא מסוף העולם ועד סופו

May the name of the Holy One, blessed be he, be magnified and sanctified in all the world, which he created, from one end of the world to the other. (Eliyahu Rabbah 12:2 [ed. Friedmann, 56]; cf. 12:4 [ed. Friedmann, 58])

L13 תָּבֹא מַלְכוּתְךָ (HR). On reconstructing βασιλεία (basileia, “kingdom”) with מַלְכוּת (malchūt, “kingdom,” “reign”), see Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple, Comment to L39.

Although Young proposed reconstructing ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου (“let your kingdom come”) as תַּמְלִיךְ מַלְכוּתְךָ (“may you cause your kingdom to reign”),[69] the verb ἔρχεσθαι (erchesthai, “to come,” “to enter”) is never used to translate הִמְלִיךְ (himlich, “cause to reign”) in LXX. Usually in LXX ἔρχεσθαι is the translation of בָּא (bā’, “come,” “enter”), and this is the verb we have selected for HR.[70]

Lord's Prayer Quote 4Young is right to point out that it is unusual in both Greek and Hebrew to speak of a kingdom that “comes,” but this expression fits with Jesus’ unique usage of “enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” which we have reconstructed as בָּא בְּמַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם (see Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L63). There is a strong dialectical dimension to many of the petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. For example, the disciples call upon God to sanctify his name, but his name is sanctified when the righteous take leaps of faith in times of testing. Here the disciples pray for God’s Kingdom to come, but God’s reign expands as people enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The prayer for forgiveness of debts as the petitioners forgive their debtors is yet another example of the dialectical structure of the Lord’s Prayer. Although at first glance the Lord’s Prayer seems to be passive, calling upon God to take action, each petition actually demands a high level of commitment from the person who recites this prayer. Therefore, although this petition’s formulation is unusual, we regard “let your kingdom come” as an accurate reflection of the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text precisely because it echoes Jesus’ unique usage of “enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

In Comment to L12 we observed the connection between the first and third petitions, “May your name be sanctified” and “May your will be done.” The second petition, “May your kingdom come,” may seem to interrupt the logical flow of the Lord’s Prayer, but this is not the case. According to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korha, it is necessary “to first receive the Kingdom of Heaven, and afterward to receive the yoke of the commandments” (m. Ber. 2:2). In other words, God’s kingship must be recognized in order to carry out his will.

In rabbinic literature the tribe of Judah not only sanctified God’s name at the Red Sea (t. Ber. 4:18; quoted above in Comment to L5), it also caused God’s kingship to be proclaimed:

רבי יהודה אומר כשעמדו ישראל על הים זה אומר אין אני יורד תחלה לים וזה אומר אין אני יורד תחלה לים שנאמר סבבוני בכחש אפרים ובמרמה בית ישראל מתוך שהיו עומדין ונוטלין עצה קפץ נחשון בן עמינדב וירד תחלה לים ונפל לו לגלי הים עליו הוא אומר הושיעני אלהים כי באו מים עד נפש טבעתי ביון מצולה ואין מעמד באתי במעמקי מים ושבולת שטפתני ואומר אל תשטפני שבולת מים ואל תבלעני מצולה ואל תאטר עלי באר פיה באותה שעה היה עומד משה ומאריך בתפלה לפני הקב″ה אמר לו הקב″ה משה ידידי משוקע במים והים סוגר ושונא רודף ואתה עומד ומאריך בתפלה לפני אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם ומה בידי לעשות אמר לו ואתה הרם את מטך וגו′ וכי מה אמרו ישראל על הים יי ימלוך לעולם ועד אמר הקב″ה מי שהמליכני על הים אעשנו מלך על ישראל

Rabbi Yehudah says, “When Israel stood at the sea, this one said, ‘I’m not going down first to the sea,’ and that one said, ‘I’m not going down first to the sea,’ as it is said, Ephraim surrounded me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit [Hos. 12:1]. As they were standing and taking counsel, Nahshon son of Aminadav [head of the tribe of Judah] jumped up and went down first to the sea and fell into its waves. About him it is said, Save me, O God, for the waters have come even to my soul, I have sunk in deep mire and there is no place to stand. I have come into deep waters, and the flood has enveloped me [Ps. 69:2-3]. And it says, Do not let the flood waters envelop me nor let the deep swallow me nor let the pit close its mouth over me [Ps. 69:16]. In that hour Moses was standing and making lengthy prayers before the Holy One, blessed be he. The Holy One, blessed be he, said to him, ‘Moses, my friend is sinking in the water and the sea is closing upon him and the enemy is in pursuit and you are standing and making lengthy prayers before me!’ Moses said to him, ‘Master of the universe, what is in my power to do?’ He said to him, And you, raise your staff [and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the children of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground] [Exod. 14:16]. And what did Israel say at the sea [in response to this]? The LORD shall reign forever and ever! [Exod. 15:18]. The Holy One, blessed be he, said, ‘The one who caused me to be proclaimed King at the sea is the one I will make king over Israel.’” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, BeShallaḥ chpt. 6 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:155-156])

"Splitting of the Red Sea" by Israeli artist Lidia Kozenitzky. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“Splitting of the Red Sea” by Israeli artist Lidia Kozenitzky. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Plunging into the waters—a huge leap of faith—was an act of sanctifying God’s name that became the catalyst for God’s miraculous intervention on behalf of Israel and the cause for Israel to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven (“The LORD shall reign forever and ever”; Exod. 15:18). It is as though taking a personal risk for the sake of God’s honor is what opens the door for God’s redeeming power to enter the world, and the working of his redeeming power is what causes God’s Kingdom to be proclaimed.

The redemption of Israel through the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven also sanctifies God’s name—that is, boosts his reputation—among the Gentiles. For in as much as the children of Israel were scattered in foreign lands and ruled by foreign kings in their ancient homeland, many Gentiles scorned Israel’s God.[71] In a rabbinic discussion on the interpretation of astronomical phenomena we find this comment:

אין לך כל אומה ואומה שלוקה שאין אלהיה לוקה עמה שנאמר ובכל אלהי מצרים אעשה שפטים

You will not find any nation that is brought low whose gods are not also brought low with it, as it is said, And I will render judgments against all the gods of Egypt [Exod. 12:12]. (b. Suk. 29a)

Although in the above quotation the application of this rule is directed against the gods of the Gentiles, many Gentiles would have agreed with the underlying principle and concluded that because the Jews were subjects of the Roman Empire, the God of Israel must be weaker than the gods of Rome (cf. Cicero, Pro Flacco 28:69; Jos., Ag. Ap. 2:125; Origen, Cels. 8:69).[72] The disdain the Roman conquerors felt toward the God of Israel is illustrated in a rabbinic recollection of the destruction of the Temple:

יקומו ויעזרכם…רבי נחמיה אומר זה טיטוס הרשע בן אשתו של אספסיינוס שנכנס לבית קדש הקדשים וגדר שתי פרוכות בסייף ואמר אם אלוה הוא יבוא וימחה. אשר חלב זבחימו יאכלו, אמר הללו משה הטעם ואמר להם בנו לכם מזבח והעלו עליו עולות והסכו עליו נסכים כענין שנאמר את הכבש אחד תעשה בבוקר ואת הכבש השני תעשה בין הערבים, יקומו ויעזרכם יהי עליכם סתרה, על הכל הקודש ברוך הוא מוחל על חילול השם פורע מיד

let them rise up and help you ([Deut.] 32:38): …R. Nehemiah says: This refers to the wicked Titus,[73] son of Vespasian’s wife, who entered the Holy of Holies, cut down the two curtains with this sword, and said, “If He is God, let Him come and stop me!” Who did eat the fat of their sacrifices…—Titus said, “Moses misled these people and told them, ‘Build for yourselves an altar, and upon it offer up burnt offerings and pour out libations,’” as it is said, The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at dusk (Num. 28:4)—let Him rise up and help you, let Him be your protection ([Deut.] 32:38): The Holy One, blessed be He, will forgive anything, but desecration of His name He will requite immediately. (Sifre Deut. §328 [ed. Finkelstein, 378-379]; trans. Hammer)

In this story Titus profaned God’s name, the very opposite of the request in the Lord’s Prayer that God’s name be sanctified.

It was a commonly-held Jewish belief that the redemption of Israel would lead to the recognition among the Gentiles that the God of Israel is the only true God (cf., e.g., Isa. 2:2-4; Zech. 8:23; Tob. 14:6; 1 En. 91:14; Sir. 36:1-11).[74] Only when the children of Israel were vindicated for their loyalty to their God would the Gentiles be made to see that Israel’s God is King of kings and Lord of lords.

The conceptual link between Israel’s redemption through the Kingdom of Heaven and the sanctification of God’s name among the Gentiles is vividly illustrated in the following midrash on the Song at the Sea, which, according to rabbinic tradition, was the first occasion on which the Kingdom of Heaven was proclaimed:

מי כמוכה באלים יי כיון שראו ישראל שאבד פרעה וחילו בים סוף ובטלה מלכותן של מצריים ושפטים נעשו בעבודה זרה שלהן פתחו כולם פיהם ואמרו מי כמוכה באלים יי ולא ישראל בלבד אמרו שירה אלא אף אומות העולם אמרו שירה כיון ששמעו אומות העולם שאבד פרעה וחילו בים ובטלה מלכותן של מצריים ושפטים נעשו בעבודה זרה שלהן כפרו כולן בעבודה זרה שלהן ופתחו כולן פיהם והודו במקום ואמרו מי כמוכה באלים יי וכן את מוצא שעתידין אומות לכפור בעבודה זרה שלהן שנאמר יי עוזי ומעוזי ומנוסי ביום צרה אליך גוים יבאו וגו′ היעשה לו אדם אלהים וגו′ ואומר ביום ההוא ישליך האדם את אלילי כספו ואומר לבא בנקרת הצורים וגו′ ואחריו מה כתיב והאלילים כליל יחלוף

Who is like you among the gods, O LORD? [Exod. 15:11]. As soon as Israel saw that Pharaoh and his army had perished in the Red Sea and that the reign of the Egyptians was abolished and that judgments were carried out against their idols, everyone opened their mouths and said, “Who is like you among the gods, O LORD?” And not only Israel recited this song, but even the nations of the world recited this song. When the nations of the world heard that Pharaoh and his army had perished in the sea and that the reign of the Egyptians was abolished and that judgments were carried out against their idols everyone renounced their idols and opened their mouths and praised the Omnipresent one and said, “Who is like you among the gods, O LORD?” And so you find in the future redemption the nations will renounce their idols, as it is said, O LORD my strength, my stronghold and my refuge and in the day of tribulation the Gentiles will come to you [Jer. 16:19], etc., and Will a man make gods for himself? [Jer. 16:20]. And it says, In that day a man will throw away his gods of silver [Isa. 2:20], etc., and to come to the cleft of the rocks [Isa. 2:21]. And after that what is written? And the false gods will utterly pass away [Isa. 2:18]. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Shirata chpt. 8 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:206-207])

Thus, sanctifying God’s name and the redemption of Israel through the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven were linked in the minds of ancient Jews.[75] When considering the Lord’s Prayer, therefore, we should not be deaf to the overtones of Israel’s longing for political independence (cf. Acts 1:6; 3:21) in the prayer for God’s Kingdom. First-century Jews expected that God’s reign would displace the yoke of foreign oppression. Where God ruled there was no room for Pharaoh or Caesar or any other king. Redemption from slavery and liberation from oppression were at the core of Jewish messianic expectations. Jesus was neither immune to nor aloof from this national-political sentiment. Although he repudiated armed insurgency, Jesus believed that the Kingdom of Heaven would overcome and overturn the powers and institutions that stood in the way of Israel’s redemption.[76]

L14 γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου (Matt. 6:10). Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer lacks the petition “Thy will be done.” Probably this petition was already lacking in Luke’s source (FR), but it is possible that it was omitted by the author of Luke himself.

The following rabbinic sources illustrate the connections between God’s Kingdom and the doing of his will:

ר′ אלעזר בן עזריה אומר מנין שלא יאמר אדם אי איפשי ללבוש שעטנז אי איפשי לאכול בשר חזיר. אי איפשי לבוא על הערוה. אבל איפשי מה אעשה ואבי שבשמים גזר עלי כך ת″ל ואבדיל אתכם מן העמים להיות לי נמצא פורש מן העבירה ומקבל עליו מלכות שמים

Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah says, “Where do we learn that a person should not say, ‘It is not my desire to put on clothes made of two kinds of material. It is not my desire to eat pork. It is not my desire to have prohibited sexual relations’? Rather, ‘It is my desire. But what can I do, since my Father in heaven has forbidden me [to do these things]?’ Even so, Scripture says, And I have separated you from the peoples to be my own [Lev. 20:26]. So we find that the one who separates from transgression also receives upon himself the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Sifra, Kedoshim chpt. 11 [ed. Weiss, 93d])

According to this source, submitting one’s own will and desires to God’s commands is the means by which one receives the Kingdom of Heaven. Another rabbinic source offers a different perspective on the connection between the Kingdom of Heaven and the doing of God’s will:

רבי אלכסנדרי בתר דמצלי אמר הכי רבון העולמים גלוי וידוע לפניך שרצוננו לעשות רצונך ומי מעכב שאור שבעיסה ושעבוד מלכיות יהי רצון מלפניך שתצילנו מידם ונשוב לעשות חוקי רצונך בלבב שלם

On concluding his prayer Rabbi Alechsandri used to add, “Master of the worlds, it is revealed and known before you that our will is to do your will, but who prevents us? The leaven in the dough and the oppression of the [Gentile] kingdoms. May it be your will to deliver us from their hand so that we may return to perform the statutes of your will with an undivided heart.” (b. Ber. 17a)

According to Rabbi Alechsandri, there are both internal and external hindrances to doing God’s will. The yeast in the dough refers to the evil inclination within human beings (cf. 1 Cor. 5:6-8),[77] which resists God’s will, but Israel’s performance of God’s will is also thwarted by their subjection to foreign empires (cf. Luke 1:74). In order to fulfill God’s will it was necessary not only to receive the Kingdom of Heaven in a personal sense on the individual level, it was also necessary for the Kingdom of Heaven—God’s reign over Israel—to be manifest on the communal level, which involved the redemption of Israel from foreign rule.

Perhaps closest in spirit to the petition in the Lord’s Prayer for God’s will to be done is found in a rabbinic comment on Israel’s Song at the Sea:

ימינך יי נאדרי בכח כשישראל עושין רצונו של מקום הן עושין שמאל ימין שנאמר ימינך יי ימינך יי שני פעמים וכשאין ישראל עושין רצונו של מקום הן עושין ימין שמאל שנאמר השיב אחור ימינו כשישראל עושין רצונו של מקום אין שינה לפניו שנאמר הנה לא ינום ולא יישן וגו′ וכשאין ישראל עושין רצונו של מקום כביכול שינה לפניו שנאמר ויקץ כישן יי כשישראל עושין רצונו של מקום אין חימה לפניו שנאמר חימה אין לי וכשאין עושין רצונו של מקום כביכול חימה לפניו שנאמר וחרה אף יי כשישראל עושין רצונו של מקום הוא נלחם להם שנאמר יי ילחם לכם וכשאין ישראל עושין רצונו של מקום הוא נלחם בם שנאמר ויהפך להם לאויב והוא נלחם בם ולא עוד אלא שהן עושין רחמן אכזרי שנאמר היה יי כאויב

Your right hand, O LORD, is glorious in power [Exod. 15:6]. When Israel is doing the will of the Omnipresent one they make his left hand into a right hand, as it says, Your right hand, O LORD…your right hand, O LORD [Exod. 15:6] twice [implying that both of God’s hands are “right hands,” i.e., working for Israel’s redemption—DNB and JNT]. But when Israel is not doing the will of the Omnipresent one they make his right hand into a left hand, as it is said, He has withdrawn his right hand [Lam. 2:3]. When Israel is doing the will of the Omnipresent one there is no sleep before him, as it is said, Behold, he neither slumbers nor sleeps [Ps. 121:4], etc. But when Israel is not doing the will of the Omnipresent one it is as though sleep was before him, as it is said, And the LORD awoke like one sleeping [Ps. 78:65]. When Israel is doing the will of the Omnipresent one there is no anger before him, as it is said, I have no anger [Isa. 27:4]. But when they are not doing the will of the Omnipresent one it is as though there was anger before him, as it is said, And the LORD’s anger will burn [Deut. 11:17]. When Israel is doing the will of the Omnipresent one he does battle for them, as it is said, The LORD will do battle for you [Exod. 14:14]. But when Israel is not doing the will of the Omnipresent one he does battle against them, as it is said, And he was turned into their enemy: he did battle against them [Isa. 63:10], and not only that, but they make the Merciful one cruel, as it says, The LORD became like an enemy [Lam. 2:5]. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Shirata chpt. 5 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:195])

According to this source, Israel’s redemption is contingent upon Israel collectively doing God’s will. Only when the whole people is engaged in pursuing God’s will is the way opened for God to intervene on Israel’s behalf. It is not enough for private individuals to cultivate personal righteousness; in order for the whole people of Israel to be redeemed there must be collective participation in the observance of Torah.[78] The petition for God’s will to be done in the Lord’s Prayer is probably best understood as expressing a desire for God’s will to be done by everyone in Israel so that there will not be any barriers to Israel’s redemption.

Lord's Prayer Quote 2

Thus, we have found that in its first three petitions the Lord’s Prayer is simultaneously operative on a personal and a communal level. On the personal level the disciple reciting the Lord’s Prayer commits himself or herself to sanctifying God’s name, to entering his Kingdom, and to doing his will. And on the communal level the disciple prays that God will sanctify his name and cause his Kingdom to enter the world so that Israel can be redeemed; and the disciple prays that Israel as a whole will pursue God’s will so that nothing will stand in the way of its redemption.

יֵעָשֶׂה רְצוֹנְךָ (HR). Many Jewish prayers employ the phrase יְהִי רָצוֹן (yehi rātzōn, “may it be [your] will”),[79] and the imperative form γενηθήτω (genēthētō, “let it be”) frequently translates יְהִי (yehi, “let it be”) in LXX.[80] Nevertheless, יְהִי is not a viable option for HR, since in the Lord’s Prayer the petitioner does not ask that some request might be God’s will, rather the petitioner asks that God’s will might be done. There are two cases in LXX, however, where γενηθήτω translates the root ע-שׂ-ה (2 Chr. 24:8; 2 Esd. 10:3).[81] In the latter of these two instances we find the phrase καὶ ὡς ὁ νόμος γενηθήτω (“and according to the law let it be done”; 2 Esd. 10:3) as the translation of וְכַתּוֹרָה יֵעָשֶׂה (“and according to the Torah let it be done”; Ezra 10:3). This example demonstrates that our reconstruction of γενηθήτω with יֵעָשֶׂה is not unprecedented.

In MT there are several examples of “do your will” or “do his will” in the active voice,[82] and likewise there are admonitions to do God’s will in rabbinic sources (cf., e.g., m. Avot 2:4), but passive forms of “let God’s will be done” are less common. Fortunately, there is one clear example of יֵעָשֶׂה רְצוֹנְךָ (yē‘āseh retzōnechā, “let your will be done”), which is attested in the prayer of a first-century Jewish sage:

ר′ ליעזר או′ יעשה רצונך בשמים ממעל ותן נחת רוח ליראיך והטוב בעיניך עשה ברוך שומע תפלה

Rabbi Liezer says: “May your will be done in heaven above, grant peace of mind to those who fear you [below], and do what seems best to you. Blessed is he who hears prayer.” (t. Ber. 3:7; Vienna MS; cf. b. Ber. 29b)

The phrase יעשה רצונך בשמים (“may your will be done in heaven”) in Rabbi Liezer’s (Eliezer’s) prayer is parallel to γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ (“may your will be done as in heaven”) in Matt. 6:10.

In some rabbinic sources doing God’s will is linked to the fatherhood of God:

יְהוּדָהּ בֶן תֵימָה אוֹמֵ′ הֱוֵוי עַז כַּנָּמֵר וְקַל כַּנֶּשֶׁר וְרָץ כַּצְּבִי וְגִיבּוֹר כַּאֲרִי לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹן אָבִיךָ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמָיִם

Yehudah ben Tema says: “Be strong as a leopard and swift as an eagle and quick as a gazelle and brave as a lion to do the will of your Father who is in heaven.” (m. Avot 5:20)

אם עשה אדם תורה ועשה רצון אביו שבשמים הרי הוא כבריות של מעלה שנאמר אני אמרתי אלהים אתם ובני עליון כלכם לא עשה תורה ולא עשה רצון אביו שבשמים הרי הוא כבריות של מטה שנאמר אכן כאדם תמותון

If a person does Torah and does the will of his Father who is in heaven, behold, he is like a creature from above, as it is said, I said you are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High [Ps. 82:6]. [If a person] does not do Torah and does not do the will of his Father who is in heaven, behold, he is like a creature from below, as it is said, therefore you will die like a mortal being [Ps. 82:7]. (Sifre Deut. §306 [ed. Finkelstein, 341])

This last source presupposes that God’s will is done by the creatures (i.e., angels) that live in heaven, but God’s will is not necessarily carried out by the creatures that live on earth. Note, too, that doing the will of the heavenly Father is equated in this source with doing the Torah. From the Jewish perspective, God’s will was not hidden or mysterious: God’s will for humankind has been revealed in the Torah. Jesus’ disciples would have had no doubt that it was God’s will for them to live according to Jesus’ authoritative interpretation of the Torah’s commandments (Jesus’ halachah). Since God’s will was already known to them, the disciples did not need to pray for discernment,[83] but rather for strength and courage to do God’s will as Jesus had taught them.

As with the previous petitions, although the form of the request is passive, the petition implies and demands active participation from the one who recites the Lord’s Prayer. A person cannot sincerely pray “May your will be done” without also attempting to do God’s will for himself or herself. The prayer is both a call for God to act and a personal commitment to act.

L15 ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς (Matt. 6:10). Some scholars of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research have suggested that the particle ὡς (hōs, “as”) in Matt. 6:10 should be regarded as a copyist’s error (a dittography) caused by the presence of ὡς in Matt. 6:12 (L20).[84] However, the ὡς is well attested in NT manuscripts, making dittography an unlikely explanation.[85] Moreover, the Didache also has ὡς in this petition, which means that if the ὡς is a scribal error, the dittography must have taken place at a pre-synoptic stage (i.e., before the composition of Matthew’s Gospel), since the Didache probably did not rely on the Gospel of Matthew for its version of the Lord’s Prayer. We conclude that ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ etc. is the authentic reading of Anth., and have accordingly retained ὡς in GR.

בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ (HR). Two notable differences between GR and HR in L15 are the absence of anything in Hebrew corresponding to ὡς in the Greek text, and the definite forms of “heaven” and “earth” in Hebrew in contrast to the anarthrous forms in the Greek text.

Regarding our omission in HR of anything corresponding to ὡς, we note that sometimes the LXX translators supplied ὡς even when there was nothing corresponding to ὡς in the underlying Hebrew text.[86] For example, where the Hebrew text reads:

וַיַּעֲשׂוּ עַל שׁוּלֵי הַמְּעִיל רִמּוֹנֵי תְּכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי מָשְׁזָר

On the hem of the robe they made pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, twisted. (Exod. 39:24; JPS)

the LXX reads:

καὶ ἐποίησαν ἐπὶ τοῦ λώματος τοῦ ὑποδύτου κάτωθεν ὡς ἐξανθούσης ῥόας ῥοίσκους ἐξ ὑακίνθου καὶ πορφύρας καὶ κοκκίνου νενησμένου καὶ βύσσου κεκλωσμένης

And they made on the hem of the undergarment below little pomegranates as [ὡς] of a flowering pomegranate tree, from blue and purple and spun scarlet and twisted linen. (Exod. 36:31; NETS)

Or, to take another example, where the Hebrew text reads:

לֹא אִישׁ אֵל וִיכַזֵּב וּבֶן אָדָם וְיִתְנֶחָם

God is not a man that he should lie or the son of man that he should relent. (Num. 23:19)

the LXX text has:

οὐχ ὡς ἄνθρωπος ὁ θεὸς διαρτηθῆναι οὐδὲ ὡς υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου ἀπειληθῆναι

God is not like [ὡς] a man to be deceived, or like [ὡς] a son of man to be threatened. (Num. 23:19)

Specifically in cases where ὡς and ἐν are combined, of which there are 14 in LXX that also have an underlying Hebrew text,[87] we find two instances where ὡς ἐν is simply the translation of the preposition -בְּ:

וְלֹא בְדַרְכֵיהֶן הָלַכְתְּ

And in their ways you did not walk…. (Ezek. 16:47)

καὶ οὐδ᾿ ὧς ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς αὐτῶν ἐπορεύθης

And you did not walk as in their ways…. (Ezek. 16:47)

וְנִלְווּ עֲלֵיהֶם רַבִּים בַּחֲלַקְלַקּוֹת

…and many will join themselves to them in flattery. (Dan. 11:34)

καὶ ἐπισυναχθήσονται ἐπ᾿ αὐτοὺς πολλοὶ ἐπὶ πόλεως καὶ πολλοὶ ὡς ἐν κληροδοσίᾳ

And many will be gathered to them [—in the city also many—] as by an allotment. (Dan. 11:34; NETS)

Since ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς (“as in heaven also on earth”) is difficult to reconstruct in Hebrew, we suspect that the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text simply read בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ (“in the heavens and in the earth”), and we suppose that ὡς was supplied by the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua. It is possible that there were theological motivations for adding ὡς to this petition, since “may your will be done in heaven and on earth” might imply that God’s will is not being done in heaven, and the Greek translator may have wished to avoid giving this troubling impression. Probably the meaning of “may your will be done in heaven and on earth” is simply “may your will be done everywhere” or “throughout your creation,” but it is also possible that Jesus really did envision a cosmic struggle in the heavenly realms that is also playing out on earth.[88] In any case, whether out of theological concerns or for stylistic purposes, it seems likely to us that ὡς was introduced by the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

Peter-El Greco

“The Repentant Peter” by El Greco (ca. 1600). Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As to the definite forms in HR in contrast to the anarthrous forms in GR, we note that the formula בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ (bashāmayim ūvā’āretz, “in the heavens and in the earth”) is found in the Hebrew Scriptures,[89] DSS[90] and rabbinic literature.[91] We further note that the definite phrase בַּשָּׁמַיִם (bashāmayim, “in the heavens”) is often rendered ἐν οὐρανῷ, without the definite article, in LXX.[92] Likewise, we find that the definite phase בָּאָרֶץ (bā’āretz, “in the land/earth”) is sometimes rendered in LXX without a definite article as ἐπὶ γῆς[93] or ἐν γῇ.[94] Given these examples, we believe that the Greek translator simply rendered the phrase בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ in the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text without definite articles.

L16 τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον (Matt. 6:11; Luke 11:3). The opening line of the petition for bread is identical in the Matthean and Lukan versions of the Lord’s Prayer.

Prayer for bread is a plea for the basic necessities of life. Bread, which was made either from wheat or barley,[95] was the primary staple in the diet of Jews in the land of Israel in the first century.[96] According to Broshi, “The poor masses ate black bread whose flour had been minimally sifted (called kibar bread, from the Latin panis cibarius), but the wealthy could afford ‘clean bread’ (Mishnah, Makhshirin 2, 8 and passim).”[97] Breadmaking was an intensive process.[98] The grinding of grain into flour was an hours-long process that was culturally regarded as women’s work (m. Ket. 5:5),[99] as was the process of kneading dough (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Pisḥa chpt. 10 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:57]) and baking bread (m. Ket. 5:5; cf. Pliny, Nat. Hist. 18:28).[100] Disciples who itinerated with Jesus did not have their wives with them to cook for them, nor did they have time to make their own bread, and, having left their possessions and livelihoods behind in order to follow Jesus, they lacked a steady income with which to purchase bread. The petition for bread in the Lord’s Prayer not only attests to the precarious existence of itinerant disciples, it also expresses a commitment to trust God to provide for their needs while the disciples busy themselves with the work of the Kingdom of Heaven.

lords-prayer-quote-origenA great deal of ink has been spilled over the interpretation of the adjective ἐπιούσιος (epiousios),[101] a word that is unattested in Greek apart from the Lord’s Prayer and writings about the Lord’s Prayer.[102] As early as the third century C.E. scholars had begun debating the meaning of this term.[103] Today, the scholarly consensus is that ἐπιούσιος is an adjectival form of ἡ ἐπιοῦσα (hē epiousa, “the coming [day]”), a substantival participle from the verb ἐπιέναι (epienai, “to come”).[104] If this derivation is correct, then ἄρτος ἐπιούσιος (artos epiousios) in the Lord’s Prayer probably means “bread for the day ahead.”

לֶחֶם חֻקֵּנוּ (HR). Many scholars agree that the phrase τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον (ton arton hēmōn ton epiousion, “our bread [for] the coming [day]”) is an attempt to represent a Hebrew or Aramaic original in Greek. This is not only because the adjective ἐπιούσιος is unknown in ancient Greek sources not influenced by the Gospels, but also because there are other, more natural, ways of referring to one’s daily sustenance in Greek, such as ἐφήμερος τροφή (efēmeros trofē, “daily food”; cf. Jas. 2:15). We considered three main options for reconstructing this difficult phrase in Hebrew: 1) לַחְמֵנוּ לְמָחָר (laḥmēnū lemāḥār, “our bread for tomorrow”); 2) לֶחֶם חֻקֵּנוּ (leḥem ḥuqēnū, “our prescribed portion of bread”); and 3) לַחְמֵנוּ לַיּוֹם (laḥmēnū layōm, “our bread for the day”).

Option 1: In support of the first option, לַחְמֵנוּ לְמָחָר, we have the testimony of the fourth-century C.E. church father Jerome, who wrote:

In Evangelio quod appellatur ‘secundum Hebraeos’ pro ‘supersubstantiali pane’ reperi Mahar, quod dicitur crastinum—ut sit sensus ‘Panem nostrum crastinum’, id est, futurum, ‘da nobis hodie’.[105]

In the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews[106] instead of “essential to existence” I found “maḥar”, which means “of tomorrow”, so that the sense is:
Our bread of tomorrow—that is, of the future—give us this day. (Comm. Matt., Book 1, on Matt. 6:11)[107]

How much importance should be ascribed to the evidence from this Jewish-Christian gospel, however, is a matter of debate, since it is probable that Jerome’s Jewish-Christian source was a translation into Hebrew or Aramaic of the canonical Greek Gospel of Matthew.[108] In other words, all things being equal, we would expect Jerome’s Jewish-Christian gospel to tell us how a Hebrew or Aramaic speaker understood the word ἐπιούσιος rather than revealing what Semitic term originally stood behind ἐπιούσιος.[109] Nevertheless, some scholars contend that all things are not equal since, in this one instance, Jerome’s Jewish-Christian source may have relied not on the canonical Greek text of Matthew, but on an unbroken chain of oral tradition from the earliest Semitic-speaking disciples of Jesus until the time when the Hebrew or Aramaic gospel was composed.[110]

Jeremias cited the use of מָחָר in Jerome’s Jewish-Christian gospel in support of his eschatological interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer, according to which Jesus taught the disciples that they would be sustained by the bread of the future age of salvation,[111] since, “in ancient Judaism maḥar, ‘tomorrow’, meant not only the next day but also the great Tomorrow, the final consummation.”[112]

Carmignac is another scholar who lent credence to the reading מָחָר in Jerome’s Jewish-Christian gospel, but he adopted a non-eschatological interpretation, arguing that by adding the preposition -לְ to מָחָר the meaning would be “until tomorrow,” thus לחמנו למחר תן לנו יום יום (Carmignac’s reconstruction)[113] should be interpreted as “Give us today our bread until tomorrow.”[114] But is Carmignac’s interpretation of לַחְמֵנוּ לְמָחָר correct?

In support of his contention that לְמָחָר (lemāḥār) can mean “until tomorrow,” Carmignac cites two verses from MT—Num. 11:18 and Josh. 7:13—but these verses do not prove his case:

וְאֶל הָעָם תֹּאמַר הִתְקַדְּשׁוּ לְמָחָר וַאֲכַלְתֶּם בָּשָׂר

And unto the people say: “Consecrate yourselves lemāḥār and you will eat meat.” (Num. 11:18)

The meaning of this verse is that the people should consecrate themselves today, so that they will be fit to receive the meat tomorrow. In other words, lemāḥār means “for tomorrow” not “until tomorrow” in Num. 11:18. The same is true in Carmignac’s second example:

קֻם קַדֵּשׁ אֶת הָעָם וְאָמַרְתָּ הִתְקַדְּשׁוּ לְמָחָר

Arise, consecrate the people, and say: “Consecrate yourselves lemāḥār.” (Josh. 7:13)

Here again, the people were to consecrate themselves on the day they received this instruction in preparation for the next day (לְמָחָר) when they would be brought into God’s presence.

There are only five examples of לְמָחָר in MT,[115] but examples in the Mishnah make the contrast between הַיּוֹם (hayōm, “today”) and לְמָחָר (lemāḥār, “for tomorrow”) unmistakable, for instance:

רָאָה אַחַת הַיּוֹם וּשְׁתַּיִם לְמָחָר שְׁתַּיִם הַיּוֹם וְאַחַת לְמָחָר

If he sees one today [הַיּוֹם] and two tomorrow [לְמָחָר], or two today [הַיּוֹם] and one tomorrow [לְמָחָר]…. (m. Zav. 1:3)

There are even examples of לֶחֶם לְמָחָר (leḥem lemāḥār) in rabbinic literature where lemāḥār clearly means “the next day”:

הַכְּבָשִׂים מְפַגְּלִים אֶת הַלֶּחֶם וְהַלֶּחֶם אֵינוּ מְפַגֵּל אֶת הַכְּבָשִׂים כֵּיצַד הַשּׁוֹחֵט אֶת הַכְּבָשִׂים לֹאכַל מֵהֶן לְמָחָר הֵן וְהַלֶּחֶם מְפוּגָּלִים לֹאכַל מִן הַלֶּחֶם לְמָחָר הַלֶּחֶם מְפוּגָּל וְהַכְּבָשִׂים אֵינָן מְפֻגָּלִין

The lambs can invalidate the bread,[116] but the bread cannot invalidate the lambs. How so? The one who slaughters the lambs in order to eat from them on the next day [לְמָחָר], they [i.e., the lambs—DNB and JNT] and the bread are invalidated. [If he offered them with the intention] of eating from the bread on the next day, the bread is invalidated but the lambs are not invalidated. (m. Men. 2:3; cf. t. Men. 5:5)

Given these examples, it is difficult to believe that לַחְמֵנוּ לְמָחָר could mean anything other than “our bread for tomorrow.” But it is precisely on the critical issue of timing that the reconstruction לַחְמֵנוּ לְמָחָר founders, since the petition for bread is almost certainly related to God’s provision of manna for Israel, which could only be gathered on the day it was consumed. Anyone who gathered manna for tomorrow discovered that it turned to worms and began to stink (Exod. 16:20). Praying to have tomorrow’s bread today flies in the face of normal Jewish piety (see below, Comment to L17), which held that praying for tomorrow’s bread demonstrates lack of faith.[117]

Option 2: Translating τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον into Hebrew as אֶת לֶחֶם חֻקֵּנוּ (“our allotted portion of bread”)[118] supposes that in this petition for bread Jesus alluded to a verse in Proverbs:

שָׁוְא וּדְבַר כָּזָב הַרְחֵק מִמֶּנִּי רֵאשׁ וָעֹשֶׁר אַל תִּתֶּן לִי הַטְרִיפֵנִי לֶחֶם חֻקִּי

Falsehood and a lying word keep far from me, poverty and riches do not give me. Let me eat my allotted bread. (Prov. 30:8)

If the above reconstruction is adopted, an allusion to Prov. 30:8 is virtually assured, since the phrase לֶחֶם חֹק does not occur anywhere else in MT, nor does it appear in ancient post-biblical Jewish sources except when quoting or alluding to this verse in Proverbs. The fact that לֶחֶם חֹק is rare and somewhat difficult to translate into Greek, yet also a construction that is actually known to have existed in ancient Jewish sources, is an advantage to reconstructing with לֶחֶם חֻקֵּנוּ, since these factors might explain why the person who translated the Lord’s Prayer into Greek might have invented such an unusual phrase as τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον.

One weakness of this reconstruction, however, is that the grammatical correspondence between אֶת לֶחֶם חֻקֵּנוּ and τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον is not very precise: τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν (“our bread”) suggests that we should expect a pronominal suffix to be attached to לֶחֶם (“bread”), while ἐπιούσιος (“of the coming [day]”) is an unusually free translation of חֻקֵּנוּ (“our allotted portion”) compared to what we generally expect from the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

Option 3: The third option, לַחְמֵנוּ לַיּוֹם (laḥmēnū layōm, “our bread for the day”) is constructed on the analogy of similar phrases found in the Hebrew Bible. For instance, in the description of King Solomon’s expenditures we read:

וַיְהִי לֶחֶם שְׁלֹמֹה לְיוֹם אֶחָד שְׁלֹשִׁים כֹּר סֹלֶת וְשִׁשִּׁים כֹּר קָמַח

And Solomon’s bread for one day was thirty kors of fine flour and sixty kors of meal…. (1 Kings 5:2)

In the above example לֶחֶם שְׁלֹמֹה לְיוֹם אֶחָד means “Solomon’s provision for one day,” and it is reasonable to suppose that לֶחֶם לַיּוֹם could mean “provision for the day” or “provision for today,” since in Hebrew הַיּוֹם (hayōm) can mean either “the day” or “today.”

In the story of Jeremiah’s imprisonment we find another example that might support the reconstruction לַחְמֵנוּ לַיּוֹם:

וַיְצַוֶּה הַמֶּלֶךְ צִדְקִיָּהוּ וַיַּפְקִדוּ אֶת יִרְמְיָהוּ בַּחֲצַר הַמַּטָּרָה וְנָתֹן לוֹ כִכַּר לֶחֶם לַיּוֹם מִחוּץ הָאֹפִים עַד תֹּם כָּל־הַלֶּחֶם מִן הָעִיר

And King Zedekiah gave the command and they committed Jeremiah to the court of the guard, and a loaf of bread was given to him for the day from the baker’s street until all the bread was gone from the city. (Jer. 37:21)

In this example a כִּכַּר לֶחֶם (kikar leḥem, “a loaf of bread”) is given to Jeremiah as his provision “for the day,” or perhaps better, “as his daily bread.”[119] Another example of a food allotment for the day is found in the story of how Ezekiel was commanded to symbolically enact the siege of Jerusalem:

וּמַאֲכָלְךָ אֲשֶׁר תֹּאכֲלֶנּוּ בְּמִשְׁקוֹל עֶשְׂרִים שֶׁקֶל לַיּוֹם מֵעֵת עַד עֵת תֹּאכֲלֶנּוּ

And your food that you will eat will be by weight: twenty shekels for the day. From one set time to the next you will eat it. (Ezek. 4:10)

Here, too, לַיּוֹם can be understood in the sense of “for the day” or “daily.”

Reconstructing τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον (“our bread [for] the coming [day]”) with לַחְמֵנוּ לַיּוֹם (“our bread for the day,” or even, “our daily bread”) has the advantage of being much closer to the word order of the Greek text, since, as we mentioned in our discussion of Option 2, the phrase τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν would lead us to expect the form לַחְמֵנוּ in the underlying Hebrew text,[120] while τὸν ἐπιούσιον (“[for] the coming [day]”) is a reasonable translation of לַיּוֹם (“for the day,” “daily”), especially when we consider that ἡ ἐπιοῦσα (hē epiousa, “the coming [day]”) can mean either “tomorrow” or “the day ahead,” that is, “today.”[121] In addition, לַחְמֵנוּ לַיּוֹם also retains the crucial temporal aspect that seems to be operative in the petition for bread. Like the manna that came from God each day to sustain the children of Israel in the desert, the disciples prayed, “our bread for the day, please give us today.”

The authors’ opinions are split between the second and third options. Whereas Bivin prefers לֶחֶם חֻקֵּנוּ, Tilton prefers לַחְמֵנוּ לַיּוֹם. However, since לֶחֶם חֹק is known to have existed in the time of Jesus and has some explanatory power for the unusual Greek in the petition for bread, we have agreed to adopt לֶחֶם חֻקֵּנוּ for HR.

Note that in a comment on Gen. 47:22, which mentions a food allowance (חֹק) given to the Egyptian priests that enabled them to avoid selling their land to Joseph during the famine in Egypt, Rashi explains:

חֹק לַכֹּהֲנִים חֹק כָּךְ וָכָךְ לֶחֶם לְיּוֹם

a prescribed portion for the priests: a prescribed portion for each one of bread for a day. (Rashi on Gen. 47:22)

Rashi’s comment equating חֹק with לֶחֶם לְיּוֹם suggests that whether we adopt לֶחֶם חֻקֵּנוּ or לַחְמֵנוּ לַיּוֹם for HR, we are in the right neighborhood.

The petition for daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer is comparable to the following prayer found in rabbinic literature:

צרכי עמך ישראל מרובין ודעתם קצרה יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהינו שתתן לכל אחד ואחד כדי פרנסתו ולכל גויה וגויה די מחסורה ברוך אתה ה′ שומע תפלה

The needs of your people Israel are many, but their understanding is limited. May it be your will, O LORD our God, to give each and every one according to what is sufficient for his sustenance and to every creature enough for its needs. Blessed are you, O LORD, who listens to prayer. (b. Ber. 29b)

In this rabbinic prayer, the supplicant asks only for needs of the present. It is a humble prayer, which requests only that which is necessary for the moment, not for a surplus against the uncertain future.

L17 δίδου ἡμεῖν τὸ καθ᾿ ἡμέραν (Luke 11:3). The second half of Luke’s version of the petition for bread (“be giving to us day by day”) looks like an attempt to explain the meaning of the adjective ἐπιούσιος in the first half of this petition.[122] Many scholars who regard Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer to be the more original form overall nevertheless regard Matthew’s δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον (“give to us today”) to be the older version.[123] The prepositional phrase καθ᾿ ἡμέραν (kath hēmeran, “day by day”) is unique to Luke among the Synoptic Gospels,[124] and we have found that καθ᾿ ἡμέραν was likely added to one other saying (Luke 9:23) by the editor of FR.[125] We have therefore accepted δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον for GR, the reading in Matt. 6:11 and Did. 8:2.

According to Flusser, Luke’s version of the second half of the petition for bread (“be giving to us day by day”) is not only secondary, it also obscures the crucial temporal aspect of the original prayer.[126] Whereas the Lukan version focuses on the future (“keep on giving every day”), in the Matthean and Didache versions the focus of the petition is on the present (“give to us today”). The Matthean version of the petition for bread can be compared to ancient Jewish comments on the story of God’s provision of manna for Israel in the desert, in which the Israelites were commanded to collect a day’s portion each day (Exod. 16:4):

ὁ δὲ πάντα μετιὼν ἀθρόα δυσελπιστίαν καὶ ἀπιστίαν μετὰ πολλῆς ἀνοίας κτᾶται· δύσελπις μὲν γίνεται, εἰ νῦν μόνον ἀλλὰ μὴ καὶ αὖθις ἐλπίζει τὸν θεὸν ὀμβρήσειν αὐτῷ ἀγαθά, ἄπιστος δέ, εἰ μὴ πεπίστευκε καὶ νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ τὰς τοῦ θεοῦ χάριτας ἀφθόνως τοῖς ἀξίοις προσνέμεσθαι, ἄνους δέ, εἰ οἴεται τῶν συναχθέντων ἱκανὸς ἔσεσθαι φύλαξ ἄκοντος θεοῦ· μικρὰ γὰρ ῥοπὴ τὸν ἀσφάλειαν καὶ βεβαιότητα περιάπτοντα νοῦν ὑπὸ μεγαλαυχίας ἑαυτῷ ἄκυρον καὶ ἀβέβαιον ὧν ἐδόκει φύλαξ εἶναι πάντων ἐποίησε.

He that would fain have all at once earns for himself lack of hope and trust, as well as great lack of sense. He lacks hope if he expects that now only but not in the future also will God shower on him good things; he lacks faith, if he has no belief that both in the present and always the good gifts of God are lavishly bestowed on those worthy of them; he lacks sense, if he imagines that he will be, though God will it not, a sufficient guardian of what he has gathered together; for the mind that vaingloriously ascribes to itself sureness and security has many a time been rendered by a slight turn of the scale a feeble and insecure guardian of all that it looked on as in its safe-keeping. (Philo, Leg. 3:164; Loeb)[127]

ר′ אליעזר אומר שלא ילקט אדם מן היום למחר. וכן היה ר′ אליעזר אומר מי שיש לו מה שיאכל היום ויאמר מה אני אוכל למחר הרי זה ממחוסרי אמנה שנ′ דבר יום ביומו. מי שברא יום ברא פרנסתו.‏

Rabbi Eliezer [ben Hyrcanus] says, “[A day’s portion in its day means] that a person should not gather today’s manna for tomorrow.” And thus Rabbi Eliezer would say: “Whoever has something that he can eat today but says what will I eat tomorrow, behold this one is among those who lack faith, as it is said, a day’s portion in its day [Exod. 16:4]. The one who created day created its sustenance. (Mechilta de Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, BeShallaḥ 16:4 [ed. Epstein-Melamed, 106])[128]

For Jesus’ disciples, who had given up their livelihoods in order to follow him,[129] meeting their daily needs must have been a pressing concern.[130] Nevertheless, Jesus wanted the disciples to trust God to provide for their needs. Similar concerns were evidently expressed by the disciples of other sages, since exhortations not to worry about how disciples were to meet their needs are also found in rabbinic sources. For instance,

ר′ אליעזר אומר לא ניתנה תורה לדרוש אלא לאוכלי המן. הא כאיזה צד היה אדם יושב ושונה ואינו יודע מאין יאכל וישתה ומאין ילבש ויתכסה הא לא ניתנה תורה לדרוש אלא לאוכלי המן שנייה להן לאוכלי תרומה

Rabbi Eliezer [ben Hyrcanus] says, “The Torah was not given for study except to the eaters of manna. For how can someone be sitting and repeating [his lessons] and not know from where he will eat and drink, or from where he will dress and covers himself? Thus, the Torah was not given for study except to the eaters of manna, and second to them are eaters of terumah [i.e., priests—DNB and JNT].” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, BeShallaḥ 16:4 [ed. Epstein-Melamed, 107]; cf. Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Vayassa‘ chpt. 3 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:235])

Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, a sage of the first an second centuries C.E., explicitly connected the full-time disciples’ dependence on God’s provision to the story of the manna in the desert. The notion that full-time disciples will be nourished with manna is reiterated in another rabbinic comment on the manna from heaven story:

ותן שמה מלא העומר מן והנח אותו לפני יי למשמרת לדורותיכם…. רבי אליעזר אומר לימות ירמיה הנביא שבשעה שאמר ירמיה לישראל מפני מה אין אתם עוסקין בתורה אמרו לו אם אנו מתעסקין בדברי תורה במה נתפרנס באותה שעה הוציא להם ירמיה צלוחית של מן ואמר להם הדור אתם ראו דבר יי וגו′ אבותיכם שהיו עוסקין בדברי תורה ראו ממה נתפרנסו אף אתם אם עוסקין בדברי תורה המקום יפרנס אתכם מזה. וזה אחד משלשה דברים שעתיד אליהו להעמיד לישראל צלוחית של מן וצלוחית של מים וצלוחית של שמן המשחה ויש אומרים אף מקלו של אהרן בשקדיו ופרחיו שנאמר השב את מטה אהרן וגו′‏

And put there [i.e., in God’s presence—DNB and JNT] a full omer of manna and leave it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations [Exod. 16:33]…. Rabbi Eliezer says, “For the days of Jeremiah the prophet, for when Jeremiah said to Israel, ‘Why are you not occupied with the Torah?’ they said to him, ‘If we occupy ourselves with words of Torah with what will we be sustained?’ At that very hour Jeremiah brought out for them the container of manna and said to them, O generation, you see the thing of the LORD [Jer. 2:31], etc. See from what [provision] your fathers, who were occupied with words of Torah, were sustained, and so will the Omnipresent one sustain you from this [provision] if you are occupied with words of Torah. And this is one of the three things that Elijah will restore to Israel in the future: the container of manna, the container of water, and the container of oil for anointing. And there are those who say also the staff of Aaron with its almonds and blossoms, as it is said, Return the rod of Aaron [Num. 17:25], etc.” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Vayassa‘ chpt. 6 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:249])

This source entertains two notions about God’s provision of manna: first, that the manna is available to every generation that occupies itself with Torah study, and second, that the provision of manna will be restored at the time of the messianic redemption. Since both Torah study and the messianic redemption are closely related to joining Jesus’ band of full-time disciples (a process Jesus referred to as “entering the Kingdom of Heaven”),[131] it would hardly be surprising to find the notion that the provision of manna was available to the full-time disciples who itinerated with Jesus. Thus, it seems more than plausible that the petition for bread in the Lord’s Prayer also alludes to the manna story. In Exodus, the manna that appeared every day is called “bread”:

וַיֹּאמֶר יי אֶל מֹשֶׁה הִנְנִי מַמְטִיר לָכֶם לֶחֶם מִן הַשָּׁמָיִם

And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am causing bread to rain down to you from the heavens.” (Exod. 16:4)

Thus “bread” in the Lord’s Prayer could be an allusion to the manna in the desert story. Strengthening this supposition is a rabbinic comment on Exod. 16:4, which states:

מן השמים מאוצר הטוב של שמים שנאמר יפתח יי לך את אוצרו הטוב את השמים

From the heavens [Exod. 16:4]. From the good treasure of Heaven, as it is said, The LORD will open for you his good treasure, the heavens [Deut. 28:12]. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Vayassa‘ chpt. 3 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:234]; cf. t. Maas. Shen. 5:25).

According to this source, the manna (bread from heaven) was God’s treasure in heaven which he rained down upon Israel each day to sustain them during their wanderings in the desert, where they had no livelihoods or means of producing food of their own. In a similar fashion, Jesus promised disciples—those who left behind their possessions, crafts and trades in order to follow him—treasure in heaven (Matt. 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22). Given the identification in rabbinic sources of “treasure in heaven” with “manna,” and Rabbi Eliezer’s saying that disciples must be “eaters of manna,” it seems possible that Jesus’ assurance that disciples will receive treasure in heaven meant that when the disciples cast themselves solely on God’s providence, God would provide for their needs, just as he had provided for Israel in the desert.[132]

Whether or not the petition for today’s bread was tied to the manna in the desert story or the promise of treasure in heaven, it is impossible to deny the economic aspect of this petition in the Lord’s Prayer.[133] The disciples who were taught to pray this prayer had exchanged a life of self-sufficiency for a life of complete dependence on God’s providential care in order to follow Jesus.[134]

δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον (GR). Although it is more common in Jewish private prayer to petition God with the formula “May it be your will…,” Heinemann noted several Jewish private prayers that employ a more direct imperative style, much like “Give us today…” in the Lord’s Prayer.[135] Compare the following examples:

הוֹשַׁע יָיי אֶת עַמְּךָ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵ′ כָּל פָּרָשַׁת הַ(צִּ)[[עִ]]יבּוּר {העבר} צוֹרְכֵיהֶם מִלְּפָנֶיךָ בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יָיי שׁוֹמֵעַ תְּפִילָּה

Save, O LORD, your people Israel. At their every crossroad let their needs come before you. Blessed are you, O LORD, who hears prayer. (m. Ber. 4:4)

אלהי נצור לשוני מרע ושפתותי מדבר מרמה ולמקללי נפשי תדום ונפשי כעפר לכל תהיה

My God, preserve my tongue from evil and my lips from deceitful words, and to those that curse me may my soul be silent and may my soul be as dust to everyone…. (b. Ber. 17a)

In the above examples the prayers begin with imperatives.[136] The direct imperative style of petition in the Lord’s Prayer is tempered by the preliminary expressions of praise in L10-15.[137]

תֵּן לָנוּ הַיּוֹם (HR). On reconstructing διδόναι (didonai, “to give”) with נָתַן (nātan, “give”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L18. In LXX the command δὸς ἡμῖν (dos hēmin, “give to us”) translates the Hebrew commands הָבָה לָּנוּ (hāvāh lānū, “give to us”; Gen. 47:15; Ps. 59[60]:13; 107[108]:13), תְּנוּ לָנוּ (tenū lānū, “you [plur.] give to us”; Exod. 17:2) and תְּנָה לָּנוּ (tenāh lānū, “give to us”; Num. 11:13; 1 Kgdms. 8:6).[138] The example in Gen. 47:15 is of particular interest, since it is a request for bread:

Δὸς ἡμῖν ἄρτους

הָבָה לָּנוּ לֶחֶם

“Give us bread!”

This request is addressed to Joseph and is voiced by the Egyptians who were starving during the famine. In the tannaic midrash Genesis Rabbah, this story was paraphrased in the following manner:

כיון שחזק הרעב במצרים באו מצריים אצלו אמ′ תן לנו לחם

When the famine in Egypt became severe the Egyptians came to him. They said, “Give us bread!” (Gen. Rab. 91:5)

This rewording of the story from Genesis indicates that the imperative הָבָה had become antiquated in MH, and that תֵּן לָנוּ was the MH equivalent of the biblical ‎הָבָה לָּנוּ.‎[139] We have accordingly adopted תֵּן לָנוּ for HR.

The adverb σήμερον (sēmeron, “today”) is usually the LXX translation of הַיּוֹם (hayōm, “today”), making הַיּוֹם the obvious choice for HR.[140]

L18-21 Up to this point the Lord’s Prayer has focused on the vertical relationship between the petitioner and the Creator. With the fifth petition a new dimension is introduced as the horizontal relationship between the petitioner and his or her fellow human beings is brought into play. The prayer for forgiveness from God as the petitioner forgives others is an expression of what Flusser called a “new sensitivity” that emerged in Second Temple Judaism, which emphasized the inherent reciprocity between one’s relationship toward God and one’s relationship toward one’s neighbor.[141] According to this new sensitivity, how I treat my neighbor affects how God relates to me, and how I want God to relate to me must be mirrored in how I relate to my neighbor. An early example of this triangular relationship between God, self and neighbor is found in the writings of Ben Sira:

ὁ ἐκδικῶν παρὰ κυρίου εὑρήσει ἐκδίκησιν, καὶ τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτοῦ διατηρῶν διατηρήσει. ἄφες ἀδίκημα τῷ πλησίον σου, καὶ τότε δεηθέντος σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι σου λυθήσονται. ἄνθρωπος ἀνθρώπῳ συντηρεῖ ὀργήν, καὶ παρὰ κυρίου ζητεῖ ἴασιν; ἐπ᾿ ἄνθρωπον ὅμοιον αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔχει ἔλεος, καὶ περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτοῦ δεῖται;

He who avenges will discover vengeance from the Lord, and when he observes carefully, he will carefully observe his sins. Forgive your neighbor a wrong, and then, when you petition [God—DNB and JNT], your sins will be pardoned. A person harbors wrath against a person—and will he seek healing from the Lord? Does he not have mercy on a person like himself and petition concerning his sins? (Sir. 28:1-4; NETS)[142]

Just as in this passage from Ben Sira, the Lord’s Prayer demands that forgiveness be granted to one’s fellow human beings in order for one’s requests for pardon to be favorably received by God.[143]

Lord's Prayer-Tertullian2In Matthew and Luke the structure and content of the petition for forgiveness is very similar, despite the many variations between the two versions. The main point of disagreement between the two versions is that whereas the Matthean version asks for God to forgive “debts,” the Lukan version beseeches God to forgive “sins” (L19). Significantly, both the Matthean and the Lukan versions agree in the second half of the petition that the disciples who recite this prayer are to forgive the debts that are owed to them (L20-21). The consistent reference to indebtedness in both halves of the petition in Matt. 6:12 (cf. Did. 8:2) suggests that Matthew’s version, “forgive us our debts,” was the original version of the prayer, and that the editor of FR changed “debts” to “sins,” probably for the sake of non-Jewish Greek readers who might not be familiar with debt as a metaphor for sin,[144] a concept that emerged in Second Temple Judaism. That the Lukan version retains debt vocabulary in the second half of the petition suggests that neither the author of Luke nor the editor of FR were willing to completely spiritualize the content of this portion of the Lord’s Prayer.[145] The economic aspect of the petition in relation to one’s fellow human being—the duty to release them from debts—is not concealed and remains fully in force (see below, Comment to L19).

The relationship between this petition and the preceding petitions that were related to the redemption of Israel might not be immediately obvious to modern readers, but it would have been self-evident in a first-century Jewish context. It was because of sin that Israel had been sent into exile, and although a portion of Israel had returned to their ancestral land to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, the redemption was not considered to be complete; ten of Israel’s twelve tribes had not returned from exile and all of Israel was still subject to imperial rule. Forgiveness of sin was the prerequisite for redemption.

In ancient agrarian societies indebtedness posed a constant threat to peasant families of estrangement from their ancestral lands.[146] The vast majority of the population in the ancient world lived as subsistence farmers whose income may have been supplemented by practicing a trade. Peasants lived on a very tight margin and a single crop failure could easily lead to indebtedness, either to private moneylenders or to the government in the form of unpaid taxes. Unable to pay their debts, peasant farmers in such a situation could be forced to sell their land and become day laborers, or even, if their indebtedness was severe, to sell themselves or their children into slavery.[147] The parallels between peasant farmers evicted from their land on account of indebtedness and Israel’s exile from their homeland because of sin made debt a natural metaphor for sin in Second Temple Judaism.[148]

In order to reverse such unjust economic trends as we have just described, it became the practice of ancient Near Eastern rulers, upon their ascension to the throne, to proclaim liberation of slaves, the restoration of ancestral lands, and the cancellation of debts for their subjects.[149] This practice, which continued into the Hellenistic period,[150] restored balance to the economy and justice to the social order, and influenced the Israelite monarchy[151] and the Hebrew prophetic tradition (cf. Isa. 58:5-7; 61:1-2; Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Ezek. 45:8-12).[152] In this way, the belief emerged that the final redemption of Israel would be accomplished, in part, through a proclamation of liberty and the cancellation of debt when God’s Kingdom was finally realized.

It is natural, therefore, that the forgiveness of debts became a central part of Jesus’ message, since he proclaimed the inauguration of God’s reign that was taking place in and through his band of itinerating disciples. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus instructs the disciples that their request for forgiveness must be related to their willingness to forgive others. It seems that, according to Jesus, God’s redemptive reign breaks into the world through our emulation of God’s character. Since God is a righteous king who proclaims the cancellation of debt upon his ascension, so should Jesus’ followers cancel the debts that are owed to them, because this is how redemption comes into the world.[153]

L18 וּמְחוֹל לָנוּ (HR). In LXX the verb ἀφιέναι (afienai, “to release,” “to forsake”) translates a variety of Hebrew verbs including נָשָׂא (nāsā’) and סָלַח (sālaḥ), both of which can mean “forgive.” We have chosen to reconstruct this petition with מָחַל (māḥal), a verb that does not occur in MT, but which is common in MH and is specific to the remittance of debts. This verb was also used metaphorically to refer to forgiveness of sins and personal insults (cf. m. Bab. Kam. 8:7).[154]

Examples of מָחַל in the imperative include the following:

אמרו בת עשר שנים הייתה רחב בשעה שיצאו ישראל ממצרים וכל אותן ארבעים שנה שהיו ישראל במדבר זנתה לסוף חמישים שנה נתגיירה והיא אומרת לפני הקב″ה רבונו של עולם בשלשה דברים חטאתי בשלשה דברים מחול לי בחבל בחלון ובחומה שנאמר ותורידם בחבל בעד החלון כי ביתה בקיר החומה ובחומה היא יושבת

They say Rahab was ten years old when Israel went out from Egypt and all those forty years that Israel was in the desert she was a prostitute. At the end of fifty years she becomes a proselyte and says before the Holy one, blessed be he, “Master of the universe, in three things I have sinned, by three things forgive me [מְחוֹל לִי]: by the rope, by the window, and by the wall.” As it is said, And she lowered them with a rope from the window, for her house was in the side of the wall, and she dwells within the wall [Josh. 2:15]. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Amalek chpt. 3 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:272])

The above example is addressed to God in a prayer, which makes it a particularly apt illustration for reconstructing the Lord’s Prayer. In the next example, imperatives of מָחַל are addressed to Elijah, whom Rabbi Shimon unwittingly insulted when Elijah appeared to him disguised as an extremely ugly wanderer:

כיון שידע רבי שמעון שחטא ירד מן החמור והיה משתטח לפניו. אמר לו נעניתי לך מחול לי. אמר לו איני מוחל לך עד שתלך לאומן שעשאני ותאמר כמה מכוער כלי זה שעשית. רץ אחריו שלשה מילין. יצאו אנשי העיר לקראתו אמרו לו שלום עליך רבי. אמר להם למי אתם קוראים רבי. אמרו למי שמטייל אחריך. אמר להם אם זה רבי אל ירבו כמותו בישראל. אמרו לו חס ושלום מה עשה לך. אמר להם כך וכך עשה לי. אמרו לו אף על פי כן מחול לו. אמר להם הריני מוחל ובלבד שלא יהא רגיל לעשות כן.‏

As soon as Rabbi Shimon knew that he had sinned, he got down from his donkey and prostrated himself before him [i.e., Elijah—DNB and JNT]. He said to him, “I beg of you, forgive me [מְחוֹל לִי]!” He said to him, “I am not forgiving you until you go to the craftsman who made me and you say, ‘How ugly is this vessel you have made!’” [Rabbi Shimon] ran after him three miles. The people of the city went out to meet him. They said to him, “Peace upon you, Rabbi.” [Elijah] said, “Who are you calling ‘Rabbi’?” They said, “To the one who is traveling behind you.” He said to them, “If this is a rabbi, may there not be many like him in Israel.” They said to him, “Heaven forbid! What has he done to you?” He said to them, “Thus and so he did to me.” They said to him, “Nevertheless, forgive him [מְחוֹל לוֹ].” He said to them, “I forgive him on condition that he not make a habit of doing this.” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 41:1 [ed. Schechter, 131])

The next example also involves an unwitting injury:

מעשה בר′ טרפון שהיה אוכל קציעות מפרדס שלו, בא עריס שלו ומצאו, הכהו מכה רבה, ולא אמר לו שאני ר′ טרפון, עד שעמד אותו אריס והכירו, כיון שהכירו קרע בגדיו ותלש בשערו, והיה צועק ובוכה, ומתנפל לפני רגליו, אמר לו אדוני מורי מחול לי

An anecdote concerning Rabbi Tarfon, who was eating figs in his garden. His tenant came and found him, and beat him severely, but he did not say to him, “I am Rabbi Tarfon!” until that tenant stopped and recognized him. As soon as he recognized him he tore his clothes and pulled out his hair and was crying and weeping, and prostrating himself before his feet he said to him, “My Lord, my teacher, forgive me [מְחוֹל לִי]!” (Kallah §21 [ed. Higger, 159-160])

In the final example, King David is depicted in prayer:

אמר דוד לפני הקב″ה רבונו של עולם מחול לי על אותו עון אמר לו מחול לך

David said before the Holy one, blessed be he, “Master of the universe, forgive me [מְחוֹל לִי] for this sin.” He said to him, “It is forgiven you.” (b. Shab. 30a)

L19 τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν (Luke 11:4). We stated above (Comment to L18-21) that the editor of FR likely replaced the original reading ὀφειλήματα (ofeilēmata, “debts”) with ἁμαρτίας (hamartias, “sins”).[155] We note, however, that in non-Jewish Greek sources one expects to find the verb ἀφιέναι (“to release”) paired with the noun ὀφείλημα (ofeilēma, “debt”),[156] whereas the mixing of metaphors (using a verb for “cancel a debt” with a noun for “sin”), such as we find in the Lukan version of the Lord’s Prayer, is typical of Jewish sources, whether in Greek[157] or Hebrew.

The mixing of metaphors for debt and sin in Hebrew sources can be observed in the passages cited above in Comment to L18, where imperatival forms of מָחַל (māḥal, “cancel a debt”) are paired with the usual terms for sin. Thus, Rahab said, “in three things I have sinned” (בשלשה דברים חטאתי), Rabbi Shimon realized that he had sinned (ידע רבי שמעון שחטא), and David prayed, “forgive me for this sin” (עון). In fact, we have not found a single example of מָחַל paired with חוֹב (ḥōv, “debt”) where חוֹב means “sin.” Instead we find examples, like those already mentioned, where מָחַל is used with nouns such as עָוֹן (‘āvon, “iniquity”), עֲבֵירָה (avērāh, “transgression”), פֶּשַׁע (pesha‘, “rebellion”) or חַטָּאָה (ḥaṭā’āh, “sin”), or with verbs such as חָטָא (ḥāṭā’, “sin”).[158] Conversely, we have found no examples of חוֹב in the sense of “sin” where the verb for “forgive” is מָחַל. Instead, we find examples such as this:

במאזנים לעלות במאזנים הוא מתכפר להם בחדש שמזלו מאזנים ואיזה זה חדש תשרי תשרי ותשבוק ותכפר על חובי עמך

To rise in the scales [Ps. 62:10]. In the scales atonement will be made for them, that is, in the month whose zodiac sign is the scales [i.e., Libra—DNB and JNT]. And which month is that? Tishri [תשרי] you will dissolve [תשרי] and pardon and atone for the debts of your people. (Lev. Rab. 29:8)

Likewise, in the synagogue liturgy for the ten days of repentance between the New Year (Rosh HaShanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) we find:

אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ סְלַח וּמְחַל לְכָל־עֲוֹנוֹתֵינוּ
אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ מְחֵה וְהַעֲבֵר פְּשָׁעֵינוּ מִנֶּגֶד עֵינֶיךָ
אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ מְחוֹק בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים כָּל־שִׁטְרֵי חוֹבוֹתֵינוּ

Our Father, our King! forgive and pardon all our iniquities.
Our Father, our King! blot out our transgressions, and make them pass away from before thine eyes.
Our Father, our King! erase in thine abundant mercies all the records of our guilt [lit., “bills of our debts”—DNB and JNT].[159]

In this synagogue prayer, although the petition mentioning debts uses concrete imagery (“erase all the bills of our debts”), מָחַל appears in conjunction with עָוֹן (“iniquity”).

The parallels from ancient Jewish sources that we have cited would have led us to expect עוונותינו or perhaps עבירותינו in the original Hebrew version of the prayer, and therefore ἁμαρτίας, as in the Lukan version. What prevents us from drawing this conclusion is the high improbability that anyone finding ἁμαρτίας (“sins”) in the Greek text of the Lord’s Prayer would amend it to ὀφειλήματα (“debts”). The verb ἀφιέναι appears in conjunction with ἁμαρτία elsewhere in Matthew (Matt. 9:2, 5, 6; 12:31; cf. Matt. 26:28), so there is no reason for the author of Matthew to have replaced ἁμαρτίας with ὀφειλήματα in the Lord’s Prayer. Exchanging ἁμαρτίας with ὀφειλήματα in an attempt to make the Lord’s Prayer more appealing to Jewish audiences is unconvincing, since, as we have seen, the use of ἀφιέναι with ἁμαρτία is conventionally Jewish. And exchanging ἁμαρτίας with ὀφειλήματα as a concession to Gentile readers is equally unconvincing, since the sin-as-debt metaphor would have been foreign to Gentile audiences. The most reasonable conclusion is that Matthew’s version with “debts” reflects the original wording of the Lord’s Prayer.

But if ὀφειλήματα (“debts”) is the more authentic version, then Jesus’ use of both a verb and a noun relating to debt in a petition for forgiveness is somewhat distinctive. Perhaps Jesus preferred to use “debts” in the first half of the petition simply because this preserves the parallelism with “debtors” in the second half of the parallelism. Or perhaps Jesus preferred to use “debts” in the first half of the petition in relation to God because the second half of the petition had a real-life application in relation to fellow human beings. That is to say, perhaps Jesus expected his followers to forgive wrongs not merely in a spiritual sense; he may also have expected them to cancel actual monetary debts that were owed to them. A real-life application of the petition in the fiscal realm might explain why Jesus adopted debt terminology throughout the petition.

While it is clear that in the Lord’s Prayer debts and their remittance are metaphors for the spiritual concepts of sin and forgiveness, this does not exclude the possibility that Jesus intended the literal meaning of these words to be put into practice as well.[160] The Torah makes provision for the literal cancellation of debts (Lev. 25:8ff.; Deut. 15:1-9), and the problem of indebtedness was a real-life concern in the first century, just as it is today. In his sermon in the Nazareth synagogue, Jesus claimed that he was anointed “to proclaim liberty” (Luke 4:18; cf. Isa. 61:1: לִקְרֹא…דְּרֹור), a reference to the Jubilee year, which included the cancellation of debts (Lev. 25:10: וּקְרָאתֶם דְּרֹור). We should consider, therefore, whether driving a wedge between the spiritual and the literal applications of the petition for forgiveness does violence to Jesus’ first-century message.

Jesus’ demand that his followers cancel debts might be a reaction to the enactment of the prosbol, a mechanism for circumventing the Torah’s demand that debts be forgiven in the Sabbatical Year, which Hillel either invented or endorsed in the generation before Jesus (cf. m. Shev. 10:3). Although Hillel’s motives for enacting the prosbol were undoubtedly well-intentioned (cf. m. Git. 4:3), aiming to ease the difficulty farmers faced in obtaining financing as the Sabbatical Year approached, the long-term effect was often detrimental to peasant farmers because it put them even deeper into debt.[161] Jesus may have advocated a return to the Torah’s demand for the remission of all debts in the Sabbatical Year, or, more broadly, Jesus may have expected his disciples to renounce any debts that were owed to them when they left behind home, family and livelihood in order to itinerate with him full time.

That Jesus’ moral teachings should have an economic, as well as a spiritual, application is hardly surprising. It is in the social, political and economic spheres of human activity that all great moral teachings bear their spiritual fruit.

L20 καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ἀφείομεν (Luke 11:4). In contrast to the Matthean version, which reads “as also we forgave,”[162] the Lukan version of the Lord’s Prayer has “for we ourselves forgive.” Luke’s version may be an attempt to avoid the quid pro quo arrangement the Matthean version seems to suggest.[163] We noted above (Comment to L18-21), however, that Ben Sira admonished his readers to forgive others before presuming to ask God for forgiveness (Sir. 28:1-4), and Matthew’s wording in the aorist tense (“we forgave”) is consistent with Jesus’ teaching that one should first seek reconciliation with his neighbor before offering a sacrifice (of atonement?) to God (Matt. 5:23-24).[164] Thus, Matthew’s wording, which is probably the original, is not a quid pro quo, but demonstrates sensitivity to the impropriety of asking God for forgiveness while still holding a grudge against another person. Luke’s version, on the other hand, reflects the continuing obligation to forgive. We noted a similar change in Luke’s version of the petition for bread (“be giving to us day by day”; L17), which also emphasizes continuity.[165] Both changes were probably introduced by the editor of FR. We have therefore accepted Matthew’s version for GR. The Didache strikes a middle ground between Matthew and Luke, reading ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφίεμεν (“as also we forgive [pres.]”; Did. 8:2).

שֶׁאַף אָנוּ מָחַלְנוּ (HR). In Greek and Hebrew a personal pronoun is unnecessary, since “we” is already implied by the conjugation of the verb. Here the personal prounoun is for emphasis, and since there is no obvious reason why the Greek translator or later Greek editors would have introduced such emphasis, and since Matthew, Luke and the Didache all emphasize “we,” though in different ways, it is likely that the emphasis was already present in the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text.

In contexts of direct speech we prefer to reconstruct in MH style, and have therefore used אַף אָנוּ (’af ’ānū, “also we”) instead of גַּם אֲנַחְנוּ (gam ’anaḥnū, “also we”) as in BH.[166]

We have not found any examples of כְּשֶׁאַף (keshe’af, “as that also”), which ὡς καὶ (hōs kai, “as also”) might lead us to expect, but in a survey of all the instances of ὡς in the five books of Moses, we found several instances where ὡς is the translation of אֲשֶׁר (asher, “that”), the BH equivalent of -שֶׁ.‎[167] Among the examples of ὡς as the translation of אֲשֶׁר that are most pertinent to our present inquiry are the following:

וַיָּמָת בֶּן הָאִשָּׁה הַזֹּאת לָיְלָה אֲשֶׁר שָׁכְבָה עָלָיו

And this woman’s son died at night because [אֲשֶׁר] she lay on him. (1 Kgs. 3:19)

καὶ ἀπέθανεν ὁ υἱὸς τῆς γυναικὸς ταύτης τὴν νύκτα, ὡς ἐπεκοιμήθη ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν

And this woman’s son died in the night, as [ὡς] she lay on him. (3 Kgdms. 3:19; NETS)

כִּי לְמַעַן דָּוִד נָתַן יי אֱלֹהָיו לוֹ נִיר בִּירוּשָׁלִָם לְהָקִים אֶת בְּנוֹ אַחֲרָיו וּלְהַעֲמִיד אֶת יְרוּשָׁלִָם אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה דָוִד אֶת הַיָּשָׁר בֶּעֵינֵי יי

But for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by establishing his son after him and by supporting Jerusalem because [אֲשֶׁר] David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD. (1 Kgs. 15:4-5)

ὅτι διὰ Δαυιδ ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ κύριος κατάλειμμα, ἵνα στήσῃ τέκνα αὐτοῦ μετ᾿ αὐτὸν καὶ στήσῃ τὴν Ιερουσαλημ, ὡς ἐποίησεν Δαυιδ τὸ εὐθὲς ἐνώπιον κυρίου

For because of Dauid the Lord gave him a remnant, that he might establish his children after him and establish Ierousalem; as [ὡς] Dauid did what was right before the Lord. (3 Kgdms. 15:4-5; NETS)

In these examples אֲשֶׁר with a causal meaning (“because”) is translated with ὡς (“as”), in a manner similar to our reconstruction.[168]

Instances of שֶׁאַף (she’af, “that also,” “that even”) do occur in rabbinic sources,[169] often to show emphasis, for example:

מלמד שאף עכן הוא עמהם לעולם הבא

…it teaches that even Achan is with them in the world to come. (t. Sanh. 9:5 [ed. Zuckermandel, 429])

ומנין שאף יעקב בחר בו ביה

…and whence do we learn that even Jacob chose the LORD for himself? (Sifre Deut. §312 [ed. Finkelstein, 354])

מלמד שאף אהרן היה בקצפון

…it teaches that even Aaron was included in the wrath. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 37:12 [ed. Schechter, 111])

The emphatic שֶׁאַף אָנוּ מָחַלְנוּ (“for even we have canceled [debts]”) not only impresses upon the disciples the impropriety of asking for God’s forgiveness prior to granting pardon to others, it is also an example of the forceful style of prayer characteristic of the first-century Jewish pietists known as the Hasidim (cf., e.g., m. Taan. 3:8).

On reconstructing ἀφιέναι with מָחַל, see above, Comment to L18.

L21 παντὶ ὀφείλοντι ἡμῖν (Luke 11:4). “Everyone owing [a debt] to us” probably represents FR’s paraphrase of the original wording as preserved in Matthew.[170] For GR have accepted Matthew’s reading, τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν (“our debtors”), which is also the reading found in the Didache. In Luke 13:4 we find the noun ὀφειλέτης (ofeiletēs, “debtor”) used in the sense of “sinner,” just as in Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer.

לְחַיָּבֵינוּ (HR). An example of חַיָּב (ḥayāv, “debtor”) in the context of prayer is found in the following account:

ר′ יוסי בר יעקב סלק מבקרה לר′ יודן מגדלאה, שמע קליה מברך אלף אלפין וריבי ריבוון אנו צריכין להודות לשמך על כל טיפה וטיפה שאתה מוריד לנו שאתה משלם טובה לחייבין

Rabbi Yose bar Yaakov went up from a visit to Rabbi Yudan of Magdala. He heard a voice reciting a blessing: “A thousand thousand and myriad myriad times over we need to give thanks to your name for each and every raindrop that you cause to descend for us, for you repay good to debtors.” (Gen. Rab. 13:15; cf. y. Taan. 1:3 [4b])

L22-23 καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν (Matt. 6:13; Luke 11:4). The Lukan, Matthean and Didache versions of the Lord’s Prayer are in complete verbal agreement in the petition dealing with temptation.

The noun πειρασμός (peirasmos) can refer both to “temptation” and to “trial” or “testing.” It is not always easy to distinguish between the two senses, since in a time of testing one is tempted to disobey God’s commands. Temptation can come from within, as one is tempted by his or her own impulses and desires, or from without, when one is placed in a trying situation when it would be easier to give in to pressure to commit what God has forbidden or to omit what the moment demands. When times of testing come, the challenge is to remain faithful to God and his commandments.

In ancient Jewish literature Abraham was often held up as the great example of withstanding temptations and enduring trials. For instance, according to Ben Sira:

ἐν πειρασμῷ εὑρέθη πιστός

In testing he [i.e., Abraham—DNB and JNT] was found faithful. (Sir. 44:20)

This description of Abraham is also found in a rhetorical question in 1 Maccabees:

Αβρααμ οὐχὶ ἐν πειρασμῷ εὑρέθη πιστός, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην;

Was not Abraham found faithful in testing, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness? (1 Macc. 2:52)[171]

Abrahams Opfer ("Abraham's Offering") by Adi Holzer. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Abrahams Opfer (“Abraham’s Offering”) by Adi Holzer. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Although the testing of Abraham was sometimes depicted in ancient Jewish sources as a contest between Abraham and the devil (cf. Jub. 17:15-18; 18:8-12; Gen. Rab. 56:4; b. Sanh. 89b), for most first-century Jews the severest form of testing came from the pressure to conform to the norms of the surrounding Gentile culture, forsaking the Torah and the God of Israel. There were social, economic and political advantages to assimilation, which was in itself a very real temptation,[172] but occasionally there were outbreaks of religious persecution, and in these times of testing the pressure to assimilate became acute.

Persecutions could come in the form of unofficial actions of the local populace, or in the form of state-sponsored policies, as in the days of Antiochus (second cent. B.C.E.) and Hadrian (second cent. C.E.). But whoever the perpetrator, in these times of testing loyalty to the Torah and the God of Israel was considered to be the duty of every Israelite. Ordinarily, the Torah’s commands could be set aside if observance presented a danger to one’s life,[173] but in times of religious persecution, when the temptation was the strongest to abandon the Torah, remaining true to the commandments was linked to the concept of sanctifying God’s name:

הא לא נתנו מצות לישראל אלא לחיות בהן שנ′ אשר יעשה אותם האדם וחי בהם וחי בהן ולא שימות בהן אין דבר עומד בפני פקוח נפש חוץ מע″ז וגלוי עריות ושפיכות דמים במי דברים אמורים שלא בשעת השמד אבל בשעת השמד אפי′ מצוה קלה שבקלות אדם נותן נפשו עליה שנ′ ולא תחללו את שם קדשי וגו′ ואומ′ כל פעל יי למענהו

Now the commandments were not given to Israel except that they might live by them, as it is said, that a person might do them and live by them [Lev. 18:5]: And live by them, and not that he might die by them. There is nothing that stands in the way of preserving a life except for idolatrous worship, engaging in forbidden sexual relations, and the shedding of blood. About what times were these words spoken? When it is not a time of persecution. But in a time of persecution a person gives his life even for the lightest of the light commandments, as it is said, and you must not profane my holy name [Lev. 22:32] etc., and it says, every action of the LORD for its purpose [Prov. 16:4]. (t. Shab. 15:17; Vienna MS)

When viewed from this angle, the first and final petitions of the Lord’s Prayer form an inclusio. In the opening petition the praying disciple asks God to sanctify his name, while in the concluding petition the disciple prays to remain faithful in times of testing so as not to profane God’s holy name.

וְאַל תְּבִיאֵנוּ בְּנִסָּיוֹן (HR). The Babylonian Talmud preserves a prayer for reciting at bedtime which is similar to the petition “and lead us not into temptation” in the Lord’s Prayer:

יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהי שתשכיבני לשלום ותן חלקי בתורתך ותרגילני לידי מצוה ואל תרגילני לידי עבירה, ואל תביאני לידי חטא ולא לידי עון ולא לידי נסיון ולא לידי בזיון וישלוט בי יצר טוב ואל ישלוט בי יצר הרע ותצילני מפגע רע ומחלאים רעים

May it be your will, O LORD my God, that you will cause me to lie down in peace and set my portion in your Torah and give me practice in the commandments, but do not practice me in transgression and do not bring me into the hands of sin, or into the hands of iniquity, or into the hands of testing, or into the hands of disgrace. And may the good inclination have dominion over me, and may the evil inclination not have dominion over me, and rescue me from grievous wounds and from dire illnesses. (b. Ber. 60b)

Perhaps familiarity with this prayer, especially its phrase אל תביאני…לידי נסיון (“and do not bring me… into the hands of testing”), inspired Hebrew translators of the Lord’s Prayer to render καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν as וְאַל תְּבִיאֵנוּ לִידֵי נִסָּיוֹן (“and do not bring us into the hands of testing”).[174] However, there is nothing in the Greek text of the Lord’s Prayer equivalent to יְדֵי (ye, “hands of”),[175] and therefore a simpler reconstruction would be וְאַל תְּבִיאֵנוּ בְּנִסָּיוֹן (“do not bring us into testing”). A parallel to this reconstruction is found in a prayer from Qumran:

זכורני ואל תשכחני ואל תביאני בקשות ממני

Remember me and do not forget me, and do not bring me into hardships too difficult for me. (11Q5 [11QPsa] XXIV, 10)[176]

The verb εἰσενέγκῃς (eisenenkēs) is an aorist subjunctive form of εἰσφέρειν (eisferein, “to bring into”), which in LXX is often the translation of הֵבִיא (hēvi’, “bring,” “cause to enter”). What is more, there are examples in LXX where εἰσφέρειν…εἰς translates -הֵבִיא…בְּ, for instance:

וַיֹּאמֶר יי לוֹ עוֹד הָבֵא נָא יָדְךָ בְּחֵיקֶךָ וַיָּבֵא יָדוֹ בְּחֵיקוֹ וַיּוֹצִאָהּ וְהִנֵּה יָדוֹ מְצֹרַעַת כַּשָּׁלֶג

And the LORD again said to him [i.e., Moses—DNB and JNT], “Put your hand into your bosom.” And he put his hand into his bosom. And he brought it out of his bosom. And behold, his hand had become scale-diseased, like snow. (Exod. 4:6)

εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ κύριος πάλιν Εἰσένεγκε τὴν χεῖρά σου εἰς τὸν κόλπον σου. καὶ εἰσήνεγκεν τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν κόλπον αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἐξήνεγκεν τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἐκ τοῦ κόλπου αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐγενήθη ἡ χεὶρ αὐτοῦ ὡσεὶ χιών

And the Lord said to him again, “Put your hand into your bosom.” And he put his hand into his bosom. And he brought out his hand from his bosom, and his hand had become like snow. (Exod. 4:6)

We have not found any examples of הֵבִיא בְּנִסָּיוֹן (“bring into testing”) in ancient Jewish sources, but הֵבִיא לִידֵי נִסָּיוֹן (“bring into the hands of testing”) is also quite rare, occurring only in b. Ber. 60a. We do, however, find עָמַד בְּנִסָּיוֹן (“stand [firm] in testing”) in rabbinic literature, for example:

והאלהים נסה את אברהם ועמד בנסיונותיו

And God tested Abraham [Gen. 22:1], and he stood [firm] in his trials [וְעָמַד בְּנִסָּיוֹנוֹתָיו]. (Midrash Tehillim to Ps. 26:1 §4 [ed. Buber, 216])[177]

הקדוש ברוך הוא אמר לאברהם ניסיתיך בכמה נסיונות ועמדת בכלן עכשיו עמוד לי בנסיון זה שלא יאמרו אין ממש בראשונים

The Holy One, blessed be he, said to Abraham, “I have tested you in so many trials, and you have stood firm in all of them, now stand [firm] for me in this [last] test [עֲמוֹד לִי בְּנִסָּיוֹן], so that they will not say the first ones were not real.” (b. Sanh. 89b)

אשרי אדם שהוא עומד בנסיונו שאין בריה שאין הקב″ה מנסה אותה

Blessed is the person who stands [firm] in his trial [עוֹמֵד בְּנִסָּיוֹנוֹ], for there is no creature whom the Holy One, blessed is he, does not test. (Exod. Rab. 31:3)

In the examples cited above the word for “testing” or “trial” is always נִסָּיוֹן (nisāyōn). We have chosen נִסָּיוֹן for reconstructing πειρασμός even though in LXX πειρασμός occurs as the translation of מַסָּה (masāh, “testing”; Exod. 17:7; Deut. 4:34; 6:16; 7:19; 29:2; Ps. 94:8) but never the translation of נִסָּיוֹן; this is because נִסָּיוֹן is a word that belongs to the MH lexicon and never occurs in MT. We have adopted נִסָּיוֹן for HR because we prefer to reconstruct direct speech in a style resembling MH.

L24-25 ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ (Matt. 6:13). “But deliver us from evil” is absent in Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer. Since this petition parallels “lead us not into temptation,” since it is easy to reconstruct in Hebrew, and since it also occurs in the Didache’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, we believe that this petition belongs to the original form of the prayer. “But deliver us from evil” was probably omitted by the editor of FR rather than by the author of Luke.

L24 אֶלָּא הַצִּילֵנוּ (HR). On reconstructing ἀλλά (alla, “but”) with אֶלָּא (’elā’, “but,” “rather”), see Call of Levi, Comment to L61.

In LXX the verb ῥύεσθαι (rūesthai, “to rescue”) is usually the translation of הִצִּיל (hitzil, “rescue”).[178] There are several examples in LXX where the construction ῥύεσθαι + personal pronoun + ἀπό is the translation of הִצִּיל with pronominal suffix + מִן:

Ἄνθρωπος Αἰγύπτιος ἐρρύσατο ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τῶν ποιμένων

אִישׁ מִצְרִי הִצִּילָנוּ מִיַּד הָרֹעִים

An Egyptian man rescued us from the shepherds. (Exod. 2:19)

Ὁ βασιλεὺς Δαυιδ ἐρρύσατο ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν ἐχθρῶν ἡμῶν

King David delivered us from all our enemies. (2 Kgdms. 19:10)

הַמֶּלֶךְ הִצִּילָנוּ מִכַּף אֹיְבֵינוּ

The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies. (2 Sam. 19:10)

καὶ ἐρρύσατο ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ χειρὸς ἐχθροῦ

וַיַּצִּילֵנוּ מִכַּף אוֹיֵב

And he rescued us from the hand of the enemy. (2 Esd. 8:31 = Ezra 8:31)

ἀπὸ ἀνδρὸς ἀδίκου ῥύσῃ με

מֵאִישׁ חָמָס תַּצִּילֵנִי

From a wicked man you will rescue me. (Ps. 17[18]:49)

In rabbinic prayers we sometimes find prayers for deliverance where the verb הִצִּיל appears in the imperfect form, for example:

יהי רצון מלפניך שתצילנו מעזי פנים ומעזות פנים מאדם רע ומחבר רע מפגע רע מיצר רע ומשטן המשחית

May it be your will that you might deliver us from an impudent [person] and from impudence [within myself], from a bad person and from a bad companion, from bad affliction, from the evil inclination, and from the destroying satan…. (b. Ber. 16b)

Another example is found in the rabbinic prayer recorded in b. Ber. 60b, which we cited above in Comment to L22-23, but in these instances תַּצִּילֵנוּ (“you will deliver us”) or תַּצִּילֵנִי (“you will deliver me”) is prefaced by -יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ שֶׁ (“May it be your will that…”), which is not the case in the Lord’s Prayer. We have therefore reconstructed the imperative ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς (rūsai hēmas, “Rescue us!”) with the imperative הַצִּילֵנוּ (hatzilēnū, “Rescue us!”), which is consistent with the imperatives found in L17 and L18 of our reconstruction.[179]

L25 מִן הָרָע (HR). In LXX πονηρός (ponēros, “evil”) usually occurs as the translation of רַע (ra‘, “bad,” “evil”).[180] Likewise, although the LXX translators rendered רַע in a variety of ways, the most frequent by far was with πονηρός.[181] Thus, our selection for HR is in keeping with ancient precedent.

In Hebrew “the evil one” is never used as a title for Satan.[182] Presuming that Jesus formulated the Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew, the evil he mentioned in this petition refers to bad things rather than to the personification of evil.

The prayer “rescue us from evil” is best understood in relation to the prior petition, “do not bring us into temptation,” since Hebrew parallelisms interpret one another. Rescue from evil in the midst of temptation can mean either “prevent us from doing evil when we are tested” or “prevent us from suffering evil consequences when we remain faithful in a time of testing.” Both meanings are probably present in the Lord’s Prayer. The final petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are similar in content to the following passage in Ben Sira:

τῷ φοβουμένῳ κύριον οὐκ ἀπαντήσει κακόν ἀλλ’ ἐν πειρασμῷ καὶ πάλιν ἐξελεῖται

No evil will befall him who fears the Lord, but in a test he will also be delivered in turn. (Sir. 33[36]:1; NETS)

L26 Many NT manuscripts include a doxology at the conclusion of Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, such as the following:

ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν.

Because yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.[183]

Since we use Codex Vaticanus as the base text for our reconstruction,[184] this doxology does not appear in L26. The doxological conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer is also missing in other important manuscripts, such as Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Bezae.[185] It is likely that later copyists added the doxology to the text of Matthew because they were familiar with such a doxology in their liturgical practice.

This hypothesis finds support in the fact that the Didache’s version of the Lord’s Prayer has a doxology very similar to the one found in some texts of Matthew:

ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας.

Because yours is the power and the glory forever. (Did. 8:2)[186]

Many scholars believe that the author of the Didache was unacquainted with the Gospel of Matthew.[187] If this was the case, then the Didache’s version of the Lord’s Prayer is an early witness to the way the Lord’s Prayer was recited in early Greek-speaking Christian communities at around 100 C.E. Since a doxology was appended to the Lord’s Prayer at such an early period, it is only natural to find that some scribes added such a doxology to the Lord’s Prayer when copying the text of Matthew.

The doxology appended to the Lord’s Prayer bears a resemblance to a prayer attributed to King David, which includes the following passage:

לְךָ יי הַגְּדֻלָּה וְהַגְּבוּרָה וְהַתִּפְאֶרֶת וְהַנֵּצַח וְהַהוֹד כִּי כֹל בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ לְךָ יי הַמַּמְלָכָה וְהַמִּתְנַשֵּׂא לְכֹל לְרֹאשׁ וְהָעֹשֶׁר וְהַכָּבוֹד מִלְּפָנֶיךָ וְאַתָּה מוֹשֵׁל בַּכֹּל וּבְיָדְךָ כֹּחַ וּגְבוּרָה וּבְיָדְךָ לְגַדֵּל וּלְחַזֵּק לַכֹּל

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the splendor and the victory and the honor, for everything in the heavens and in the earth is yours, O LORD: the governance and the exultation over every leader. Wealth and glory proceed from you and you rule over all things, and in your hand are strength and power, and it is in your power to magnify and to strengthen all things. (1 Chr. 29:11-12)

σοί, κύριε, ἡ μεγαλωσύνη καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ τὸ καύχημα καὶ ἡ νίκη καὶ ἡ ἰσχύς, ὅτι σὺ πάντων τῶν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς δεσπόζεις, ἀπὸ προσώπου σου ταράσσεται πᾶς βασιλεὺς καὶ ἔθνος. παρὰ σοῦ ὁ πλοῦτος καὶ ἡ δόξα, σὺ πάντων ἄρχεις, κύριε ὁ ἄρχων πάσης ἀρχῆς, καὶ ἐν χειρί σου ἰσχὺς καὶ δυναστεία, καὶ ἐν χειρί σου, παντοκράτωρ, μεγαλῦναι καὶ κατισχῦσαι τὰ πάντα.

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the boast and the victory and the strength, because you have dominion over everything in the sky and on the earth. Every king and nation quakes from before you. From you are riches and honor. You rule over all, Lord, the ruler of all rule, and in your hand are strength and dominance, and it is in your hand, Almighty one, to make all things great and strong. (1 Chr. 29:11-12; NETS)

A proclamation of God’s proprietorship of the Kingdom similar to “for thine is the Kingdom” of the Lord’s Prayer is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls: לאל ישראל המלכות (“to the God of Israel is the Kingdom,” 1QSb VI, 6). Phraseology similar to the doxology appended to the Lord’s Prayer can also be found in synagogue prayers, such as the Aleinu, where we find the following statement in the second paragraph: כִּי הַמַּלְכוּת שֶׁלְּךָ הִיא (“because the kingdom, it is yours”), which is as exact an equivalent to the phrase ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία (“because yours is the kingdom”) as anyone could hope to find.

L27-38 At the end of the Lord’s Prayer the author of Matthew inserted a saying about forgiveness (Matt. 6:14-15) that has a parallel in Mark 11:25. The saying in Mark 11:25 appears to be the author of Mark’s distillation of the teaching of forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer.[188] The author of Matthew, recognizing the affinity between Mark 11:25 and the Lord’s Prayer, paraphrased Mark’s saying and placed it in the Sermon on the Mount immediately after the Lord’s Prayer.[189] For reasons we will discuss below, it does not appear that the saying in Matt. 6:14-15 // Mark 11:25 goes back to an independent saying of Jesus. Thus, we have not included this saying in GR or HR.

L27 ἀφίετε εἴ τι ἔχετε κατά τινος (Mark 11:25). Lindsey coined the term “Markan pick-up” for words and phrases that the author of Mark found in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts which the author of Mark then worked into his account of the life of Jesus in order to allude to other sayings or episodes that he considered to be somehow related to the story he was narrating. Here in Mark 11:25 we seem to have a Markan pick-up that comes not from Luke, but from a saying in Matthew.[190] The phrase εἴ τι ἔχετε κατά τινος (“if you have something against someone”; Mark 11:25) is remarkably similar to ὁ ἀδελφός σου ἔχει τι κατὰ σοῦ (“your brother has something against you”; Matt. 5:23), all the more so because ἔχειν κατά occurs only in these two passages in NT. Let’s look at the entire Matthean saying:

Ἐὰν οὖν προσφέρῃς τὸ δῶρόν σου ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον κἀκεῖ μνησθῇς ὅτι ὁ ἀδελφός σου ἔχει τι κατὰ σοῦ, ἄφες ἐκεῖ τὸ δῶρόν σου ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου καὶ ὕπαγε πρῶτον διαλλάγηθι τῷ ἀδελφῷ σου, καὶ τότε ἐλθὼν πρόσφερε τὸ δῶρόν σου.

If, therefore, you bring your offering upon the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go first and be reconciled to your brother, and then going, bring your offering. (Matt. 5:23-24)

It seems that the author of Mark recognized the similarity between this saying and the petition for forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer and therefore picked up the phrase “have something against” in order to allude to this saying in his distillation of the Lord’s Prayer. Notice, too, that the verb ἀφιέναι (afienai, “to release,” “to forsake”) in the phrase ἄφες ἐκεῖ τὸ δῶρόν σου (“leave your offering there”; Matt. 5:24) is the same verb that is used in both the Lord’s Prayer and Mark 11:25 in the sense of “forgive.”

How can we explain a Markan pick-up from a saying in Matthew if, as Lindsey supposed, the Gospel of Matthew is based on Mark? According to Lindsey, the author of Mark based his Gospel on two principal sources: the Gospel of Luke and the Anthology (Anth.), a source also used by the authors of Luke and Matthew. Since the author of Matthew probably copied Jesus’ saying in Matt. 5:23-24 from Anth., we conclude that the author of Mark picked up the phrase “have something against” from Anth.

L27-28 ἐὰν γὰρ ἀφῆτε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις (Matt. 6:14). “For if you forgive the people” is Matthew’s paraphrase of ἀφίετε…τινος (“forgive…someone”; Mark 11:25). The author of Matthew expanded Mark’s saying in order to make the parallelism more complete.

L29 τὰ παραπτώματα αὐτῶν (Matt. 6:14). The noun παράπτωμα (paraptōma, “false step,” “slip,” “blunder”) comes from Mark 11:25 (L38). The author of Matthew does not use this term elsewhere in his Gospel, and it stands out in contrast to the debt vocabulary used in the Lord’s Prayer. In LXX the noun παράπτωμα occurs infrequently.[191] It is unlikely that Matt. 6:14 is based on a Hebrew saying of Jesus.

L31 ἵνα καὶ (Mark 11:25). Instances of ἵνα + subjunctive constructions are often indicative of Greek editorial activity in the Gospels.

L32-33 ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (Mark 11:25). “Your Father who is in heaven” is another Markan pick-up, this time from the Matthean—that is to say, the Anthology’s—version of the Lord’s Prayer. This is the only time the phrase “Father…who is in heaven” occurs in the Gospel of Mark. Tomson noted that, except for this single instance in Mark, the appellation “Father…who is in heaven” is known only from Matthew and rabbinic literature.[192] Paradoxically, in Matthew’s parallel to Mark 11:25 we find “your heavenly Father,” a less Hebraic phrase than “your Father who is in heaven.”[193] The less Hebraic formulation in Matt. 6:14 is the result of the author of Matthew’s paraphrasing of Mark 11:25.

L34-36 ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀφῆτε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τὰ παραπτώματα αὐτῶν (Matt. 6:15). If Matt. 6:15 had been based on a Hebrew source, we would not have expected to find the entire conditional clause (“but if you do not forgive people their mistakes”) to have been stated, since in Hebrew וְאִם לָאו (ve’im lā’v, “and if not”) would have sufficed.[194]

Redaction Analysis

The Lord’s Prayer has come down to us in two main versions, one in the Gospel of Matthew, the other in the Gospel of Luke. The version preserved in the Didache is an independent witness that largely supports Matthew’s version.

Matthew’s Version

Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer is longer and more Hebraic than Luke’s. Some scholars have argued that both of these characteristics (greater length and more “rabbinic” style) demonstrate that the author of Matthew elaborated upon a more “primitive” version of the Lord’s Prayer such as the one found in Luke. These scholars explain that the greater length of Matthew’s version is due to liturgical accretion,[195] and that the more Hebraic quality of Matthew’s version is the result of re-Judaization.[196] However, Charlesworth has demonstrated that liturgical texts are known to contract as well as to expand over time, and therefore length is not a reliable criterion for determining which of two parallel liturgical texts is earlier than the other.[197] Flusser has shown, moreover, that the tendency of Matthew’s Gospel is not to Judaize, but is in fact anti-Jewish. Wherever Matthew’s Gospel seems more “Jewish” than the parallels in Mark and Luke, this is the result of Matthew’s reliance on better sources than Luke and Mark, not the result of Matthew’s re-Judaizing activity.[198]

The Hebraic quality of Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer is particularly noticeable in its use of phrases that have identical, or nearly identical, counterparts in HB, DSS and rabbinic literature:

  • πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (“our Father who is in the heavens”) = אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם (“our Father who is in the heavens”)
  • ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς (“in heaven and on earth”) = בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ (“in the heavens and in the earth”)
  • Matthew also retains the Hebraic “debts” as a metaphor for sin, which was unfamiliar to Greek speakers.

The Hebraic quality of Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer is also seen in the numerous examples of noun + possessive pronoun.[199] Although this noun-pronoun order is also possible in Greek, this order is characteristic of Hebrew, and the repeated noun-followed-by-possessive-pronoun word order in just four verses is strongly indicative of translation Greek.

A third Hebraic element in Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer is the pronounced use of parallelism. Note the tripartite parallelism in Matt. 6:9-10 (“let your name be sanctified, let your kingdom come, let your will be done”; L12-14), and the two-part parallelism in Matt. 6:13 (“lead us not into temptation, but rescue us from evil”; L22-25).

These Hebraic features occur in Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer because it was copied from Anth. However, since the author of Matthew inserted the Lord’s Prayer into the Sermon on the Mount, the original context of the Lord’s Prayer would have been lost had it not been for the author of Luke.

Luke’s Version

In Luke the Lord’s Prayer appears in a narrative context in which the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, just as John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray (Luke 11:1-2a). Since this narrative seems historically plausible and since it is relatively easy to reconstruct in Hebrew, we believe that the author of Luke copied this narrative introduction from Anth. The text of the prayer itself (Luke 11:2b-4), however, seems to have been copied from FR. Thus, the Lord’s Prayer pericope in Luke 11:1-4 is an exceptional case in which the author of Luke spliced his two parallel sources together.

The author of Luke treated the two parts of the Lord’s Prayer pericope differently. To the part copied from Anth. (Luke 11:1-2a) the author of Luke made minor stylistic improvements: omitting a conjunction (καί) in L2 and L6, adding a conjunction (καί) in L3, and changing a verb to a participle in L2. To the part copied from FR (Luke 2b-4), by contrast, the author of Luke appears not to have made any changes. Making stylistic changes to FR would have been unnecessary, since FR was itself an improved Greek version of Anth. adapted for a non-Jewish, Greek-speaking audience.

Examples of adaptation for a non-Jewish, Greek-speaking audience in FR’s version of the Lord’s Prayer include:

  • elimination of parallelisms (L14-15, L24-25) which may have seemed superfluous to Greek speakers
  • elimination or clarification of Hebrew idioms for a Greek audience, for example, omitting ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (“who is in the heavens”) in L11 and replacing Matthew’s Hebraic ὀφειλήματα (“debts”) with ἁμαρτίας (“sins”) in L19
  • stylistic improvements for Greek readers, such as omitting ἡμῶν (“our”) in L10, replacing the aorist imperative δός (“give”) with the present imperative δίδου (“be giving”) in L17, and substituting τὸ καθ᾿ ἡμέραν (“day by day”) for σήμερον (“today”), also in L17

The result of these changes is a more concise and more easily comprehensible prayer for Gentile followers of Jesus. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the author of Luke would have preferred FR’s version of the Lord’s Prayer to the version he knew from Anth.[200]

Results of This Research

1. Did Jesus teach his disciples to pray in Hebrew or Aramaic? Davies and Allison present three main arguments in favor of an Aramaic original for the Lord’s Prayer:

  1. The opening address in Luke’s version, πάτερ (pater, “Father”), probably represents the Aramaic אַבָּא (’abā’, “Father”).
  2. It is easier to presume an Aramaic rather than a Hebrew phrase behind ἐπιούσιον…σήμερον (“the coming [day]…today”).
  3. The Aramaic חוֹבָא (ḥōvā’) seems the most likely Semitic candidate for a word that means both “debt” and “sin.”[201]

None of these arguments are convincing, because in every instance a Hebrew equivalent is at least as likely as the Aramaic equivalents Davies and Allison suggest.

With respect to their first argument—that πάτερ is the equivalent of אַבָּא, and therefore Aramaic must lie behind the opening address—the argument is doubly flawed since 1) there are reasons why a Greek editor might drop the possessive pronoun ἡμῶν (“our”; see above, Comment to L10) and the phrase ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (“who is in the heavens”; see above, Comment to L11), so it is by no means certain that Luke’s address is the more original, and 2) even if we were to agree that Luke’s opening address is the original, and that πάτερ (pater) is the translation of אַבָּא (’abā’), this still does not argue in favor of an Aramaic original, since אַבָּא is a Hebrew word every bit as much as it is Aramaic.[202] Since אַבָּא was used in both Semitic languages, it cannot be cited as valid evidence for tipping the scales in one direction or the other.

With respect to their second argument—that ἐπιούσιον…σήμερον (“the coming [day]…today”) is more likely to be Aramaic—we have discussed three possible Hebrew reconstructions that are just as plausible as the Aramaic reconstructions various scholars have proposed.

Finally, with respect to their third argument—that the Aramaic חוֹבָא means both “debt” and “sin,” and therefore likely stands behind “forgive us our debts”—the Hebrew noun חוֹב (ḥōv) can also mean “debt” or “sin.” None of the arguments that Davies and Allison advanced actually support Aramaic over Hebrew as the original language of the Lord’s Prayer.

The fact is, the Lord’s Prayer can be reconstructed in Hebrew or Aramaic with relative ease.[203] Since philological considerations are insufficient to determine in which language Jesus composed the Lord’s Prayer, it is reasonable to allow cultural norms to inform us whether a Hebrew or an Aramaic original is more probable. We are struck by the fact that nearly all the prayers originating in the land of Israel during the Second Temple period are in Hebrew.[204] In DSS, the prayers in the War Scroll (1QM), the personal prayers in the Thanksgiving Hymns (1QHa), the Grace After Meals in 4Q434a, the blessings in 4Q286 (4QBlessingsa), the prayers for the marriage ritual in 4Q502, the daily prayers in 4Q503, the prayers in the Words of the Luminaries (4Q504, 4Q505, 4Q506), the festival prayers in 4Q508, and the blessings for ritual purification in 4Q512 and 4Q284 are all in Hebrew. Likewise, nearly all prayers recorded in the Mishnah, Tosefta, tannaic midrashim, and in both Talmuds, are in Hebrew.[205]

The kaddish, a Jewish prayer recited in Aramaic that is often cited in support of the thesis that the Lord’s Prayer was originally composed in Aramaic,[206] is not mentioned in any source earlier than the Babylonian Talmud (b. Sot. 49a), and there is no record of the liturgical use of the kaddish until the geonic period.[207] Thus, the kaddish offers meager support to the theory that Aramaic was a common prayer language in the first century.

In the absence of compelling reasons why Jesus would have departed from the norms of first-century Jewish prayer,[208] the evidence points to the conclusion that the Lord’s Prayer was originally composed and recited in Hebrew, like all other Jewish prayers of its time.[209]

2. Did Jesus intend the Lord’s Prayer for public or private use? Although the opening address of the Lord’s Prayer addresses God in the first person plural, “our Father,” which might seem to suggest that Jesus intended the Lord’s Prayer for public corporate worship, comparison of the Lord’s Prayer with other ancient Jewish prayers leads to the opposite conclusion. Heinemann noted several characteristics of private prayer, the most prominent of which include simplicity, brevity, appeal to God in the second person (e.g., “May you…”), and an opening address, often with a first person pronominal suffix (e.g., “My God…”). These characteristics can be observed in the private prayer of Rabbi Yehoshua (m. Ber. 4:4) quoted above in Comment to L17, the prayer of Rabbi Liezer (t. Ber. 3:7), and the collection of private prayers in y. Ber. 4:2 [33a] and b. Ber. 16b-17a.[210] Since the Lord’s Prayer shares these characteristics, Heinemann concluded that the Lord’s Prayer was composed for private use.[211] The Lord’s Prayer was not intended as an alternative to public corporate worship, but as a supplement to public worship for the individual use of Jesus’ disciples. Just like the rabbinic prayers we have surveyed, however, the Lord’s Prayer is couched in first person plural language (“our,” “we,” “us”). Even in private prayer the communal sense of solidarity with the whole people of Israel was not lessened.

3. Did Jesus transcend the bounds of Judaism when he taught his disciples to address God as “Father”? Based on the assumption that in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught his disciples to address God as “Abba,” Gerhard Kittel, editor of the influential Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, claimed that “this Father-child relationship to God far surpasses any possibilities of intimacy assumed in Judaism,” and that by instructing his disciples to address God as “Abba” Jesus introduced “something which is wholly new.”[212] Kittel also claimed that referring to God as “Abba” “must have sounded familiar and disrespectful to His [i.e., Jesus’—DNB and JNT] contemporaries.”[213] Likewise, Joachim Jeremias claimed that “No Jew would have dared to address God in this manner.”[214] But were these scholars correct?

First, in light of recent discoveries it has become clear that there was nothing new about referring to God in prayer as “my Father.” In two prayers from two different documents among the Dead Sea Scrolls God is addressed as “my Father.” The first of these prayers appears in a retelling of the story of Joseph in Egypt. In this text Joseph opens his prayer with the address אבי ואלהי (“My Father and my God”; 4Q372 1 I, 16).[215] The second prayer also appears in a larger narrative, although the document is too fragmentary to determine its precise nature. This prayer includes the address אבי ואדוני (“My Father and my Lord”; 4Q460 5 I, 6).

Likewise, addressing God as “our Father” in prayer was far from innovative. Already in the book of Tobit we have an example of such an address in a prayer context:

כיא הוא אדוניכ[מה] והוא אלה[יכמה …]

καθότι αὐτὸς κύριος ἡμῶν καὶ θεός, αὐτὸς πατὴρ ἡμῶν εἰς πάντας τοὺς αἰῶνας

…because he is our Lord and God, he is our Father forever and ever. (4QTobe [4Q200] 6 I, 9 = Tob. 13:4)

Unfortunately, the crucial words (“our Father”) in the Hebrew text from Qumran are missing, but there is little reason to doubt that they were there, since two other prayers in DSS also address God as “my Father.”

The above examples show that Jeremias’ claim that “there is as yet no evidence in the literature of ancient Palestinian Judaism that ‘my Father’ is used as a personal address to God” is antiquated.[216] Since addressing God as “my/our Father” was not unique to Jesus, everything must depend on Jesus’ use of the specific grammatical form “Abba” as opposed to “Avi” or “Avinu” in order for the claims for Jesus’ transcendence of Judaism to be maintained.[217] And as we have seen, the evidence for Jesus’ use of “Abba” in addressing God is far less certain than is usually recognized. Without Mark 14:36, where “Abba” might very well be an editorial addition inserted by the author of Mark, we would have no indication that Jesus ever addressed God as “Abba.”[218] The result is that the entire edifice erected on a single instance of one particular grammatical form collapses under its own weight.[219]

While addressing God as “Father” may have been somewhat atypical in mainstream first-century Jewish prayers, it was by no means unheard of or unacceptable. Relating to God as Father was the hallmark of the charismatic pietists of late Second Temple Judaism (Hasidim), such as Honi the Circle-drawer and Hanina ben Dosa, whose teachings and practices were particularly close to those of Jesus of Nazareth.[220]

4. What is the meaning of the petition for “daily bread”? The prayer for bread is related to the rigors of first-century discipleship. Since full-time disciples had to leave behind family, possessions and livelihoods in order to itinerate with Jesus, they were forced to rely on God to provide for their needs. Other Jewish sages mention the worries and fears full-time disciples had to overcome when they spent their time studying Torah instead of working at a trade. Some sages indicated that such devoted disciples would be supplied with manna. Thus, the petition for bread in the Lord’s Prayer is probably related to the story of God’s provision for Israel with manna from heaven. Just as God supplied enough manna to meet the needs of each day, Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for bread needed for today. In addition to the manna from heaven story, it is possible that Jesus also wove an allusion to Prov. 30:8 into the prayer for daily bread.

5. “Debts” or “trespasses”—which is it? Supposing Jesus composed the Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew (or Aramaic), “debts” is more likely to be the original. In both Hebrew and Aramaic, “debt” could be used both literally as an economic term and figuratively as a metaphor for sin. Therefore, although “debts” is probably original, “sins” or “trespasses” is not incorrect, and since the author of Luke probably found “sins” in his source (FR), this explanatory gloss for the sake of non-Jewish Greek speakers must have been introduced at a very early stage.

We note, however, that even in Luke’s more Gentile-friendly version of the Lord’s Prayer the fiscal imagery is not entirely eliminated with respect to forgiving one’s fellow human being. This might be the case because both the literal and figurative senses of “debt” were understood to be at work in the Lord’s Prayer. It is hard to imagine how Jesus’ teaching on compassion, forgiveness and generosity could be compatible with squeezing a desperate debtor for repayment of a loan, forcing him and his family into dire poverty or enslavement. Jesus’ teachings, like Judaism as a whole, did not distinguish between the spiritual and the practical. Releasing the impoverished from the obligation to repay debts was a commandment in the Torah and the signal that a new and better king had begun to reign, a king who would establish justice and equity for the poor and oppressed in society. Releasing monetary debts was also good practice for the much more difficult task of forgiving personal insults and injuries and letting go of communal resentments and national enmities.

6. Deliver us “from evil” or “from the Evil One”—which is it? If the Lord’s Prayer was composed in Hebrew, then the only meaning could be “deliver us from evil.” Since this petition is related to the prior petition about temptation, “deliver us from evil” probably means “prevent us from doing evil by giving in to temptation” or “prevent us from suffering evil consequences for remaining loyal to you in times of testing.” The translation “the Evil One” is not entirely off base, however, since in ancient Jewish sources Satan was often the instigator of trials and temptations.

Conclusion

Lord's Prayer Quote 3In response to their request, Jesus taught the disciples a prayer that expressed both a desire for God to bring about redemption for Israel and a personal commitment to participate in redemptive acts themselves. Like all other Jewish prayers from the land of Israel in the Second Temple period, the Lord’s Prayer was probably composed and recited in Hebrew. The Lord’s Prayer encapsulates much of Jesus’ message, and it must have served the disciples well when they shared Jesus’ teachings with their contemporaries.

 


 

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  • [1] For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.’
  • [2] This translation is a dynamic rendition of our reconstruction of the conjectured Hebrew source that stands behind the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels. It is not a translation of the Greek text of a canonical source.
  • [3] See Knox, 2:60.
  • [4] We continue to maintain, however, that Luke 11:1-2a was copied from Anth. Thus, Luke 11:1-4 represents an exceptional case with respect to Luke’s treatment of his sources. Usually the author of Luke copied a pericope either from Anth. or FR, he rarely combined parallel versions, as did the author of Matthew, who frequently combined the wording of his parallel sources (Mark and Anth.). Even in this instance, the author of Luke did not weave together the wording of his sources, he switched from Anth. to FR for the text of the Lord’s Prayer.
  • [5] On the anti-Jewish tendency in Matthew’s treatment of his sources, see David Flusser, “Two Anti-Jewish Montages in Matthew” (Flusser, JOC, 552-560); idem, “Matthew’s ‘Verus Israel’” (Flusser, JOC, 561-574); idem, “Anti-Jewish Sentiment in the Gospel of Matthew” (Flusser, JSTP2, 351-353); R. Steven Notley, “Anti-Jewish Tendencies in the Synoptic Gospels.”
  • [6] Cf. Tomson, 281.
  • [7] Robert Lindsey believed that in Double Tradition (DT) pericopae with high levels of verbal disparity, such as the Matthean and Lukan versions of the Lord’s Prayer, the verbal disparity is due to the use of different sources by the authors of Matthew and Luke. For his DT material, the author of Matthew relied on a highly Hebraic source that Lindsey dubbed the Anthology (Anth.), but for DT pericopae with high verbal disparity, the author of Luke relied on an epitome of Anth. with improved Greek style, which Lindsey referred to as the First Reconstruction (FR). In these DT pericopae with high verbal disparity, Lindsey supposed that Matthew’s version was usually closer to the wording of the early Greek translation of the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua, and thus reflected an earlier version than Luke’s parallel text.
  • [8] For an introduction to the Didache, see Huub van de Sandt, “The Didache and its Relevance for Understanding the Gospel of Matthew.”
  • [9] See Huub van de Sandt and David Flusser, The Didache: Its Jewish Sources and its Place in Early Judaism and Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002), 294-295. See also Huub van de Sandt, “The Didache and its Relevance for Understanding the Gospel of Matthew” under the subheading, “The Nature of the Agreements between Didache and Matthew.” According to Niederwimmer, “It is hard to suppose that the Didache [version of the Lord’s Prayer—DNB and JNT] quotes directly from the text of Matthew’s Gospel” (Kurt Niederwimmer, The Didache: A Commentary [trans. Linda M. Maloney; Hermenia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998], 136). Cf. Betz, 371.
  • [10] See Plummer, Luke, 293-294; Davies-Allison, 1:591.
  • [11] On the Lukan context of the Lord’s Prayer, see Peter J. Tomson, “The Lord’s Prayer (Didache 8) at the Faultline of Judaism and Christianity,” in The Didache: A Missing Piece of the Puzzle in Early Christianity (ed. Jonathan Draper; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2015), 165-187, esp. 171-172.
  • [12] According to Plummer (Luke, 293), the author of Luke would not have invented this special incident on his own as an introduction to the Lord’s Prayer.
  • [13] See Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L1.
  • [14] See Randall Buth and Brian Kvasnica, “Critical Notes on the VTS” (JS1, 268-273).
  • [15] The ἐν τῷ εἶναι + pronoun construction is found in Gen. 4:8; 1 Kgdms. 25:15; 2 Chr. 15:2; Ps. 62[63]:1; 104[105]:12; 141[142]:1.
  • [16] In LXX ἐν τόπῳ translates בְּמָקוֹם in Exod. 29:31; Lev. 4:24, 29, 33; 6:9, 18, 19, 20; 7:2, 6; 10:13, 14, 17; 14:13 (2xx); 16:24; 24:9; Num. 22:26; 1 Chr. 16:27; 2 Esd. 9:8; 14:14; Ps. 23[24]:3; 43[44]:20; Prov. 25:6; Isa. 22:23, 25; 45:19.
  • [17] In MT the phrase מְקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי is followed by the adjective אַלְמֹנִי (’almoni, “a certain [one]”). In these instances, מְקוֹם is in the construct state before the indefinite pronoun פְּלוֹנִי. See Joüon-Muraoka, §129f, §147f; BDB, 48, 811.
  • [18] The betrothal is not valid because the agent did not follow the specific instructions of the sender, who told him to contract the marriage at a particular location.
  • [19] Other examples of the phrase מְקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי occur in m. Dem. 6:8 (4xx), 9 (4xx); m. Shev. 10:4; m. Bik. 3:3; m. Yev. 16:6; m. Ned. 10:7; m. Git. 3:1; 6:3 (4xx), 4; m. Naz. 1:6 (2xx); m. Kid. 2:4 (2xx); 3:3; m. Bab. Metz. 5:10; m. Sanh. 7:10; m. Mak. 1:4 (2xx); m. Meil. 6:3 (2xx); Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Pisḥa chpt. 13 (ed. Lauterbach, 1:73).
  • [20] For a discussion of this baraita, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction’ Addendum: Linguistic Features of the Baraita in b. Kid. 66a.”
  • [21] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1214.
  • [22] See Dos Santos, 168.
  • [23] In the Mishnah we have an example of גָּמַר in reference to completing the recitation of the Shema (m. Ber. 3:2), and we encounter הִפְסִיק in discussions of when it is permissible to interrupt the recitation of the Shema (m. Ber. 2:2; 3:5; 5:1), but neither of these verbs correspond to the situation described in Luke 11:1, which concerns prayer.
  • [24] Compare the LXX version of the conclusion to Solomon’s prayer to our GR in L3:

    וּכְכַלּוֹת שְׁלֹמֹה לְהִתְפַּלֵּל

    καὶ ὡς συνετέλεσεν Σαλωμων προσευχόμενος….

    And when Solomon finished praying…. (2 Chr. 7:1)

    Although LXX used a verb other than παύειν to translate כִּלָּה in 2 Chr. 7:1, the above example is otherwise very similar to our GR.

  • [25] In LXX ὡς + παύειν is the translation of כְּכַלּוֹת in Josh. 8:24; Jer. 50[43]:1. Cf. Josh. 10:20 where ὡς + καταπαύειν is used to translate כְּכַלּוֹת. Elsewhere, LXX uses ὡς + τελεῖν (2 Esd. 9:1) or ὡς + συντελεῖν (1 Kgdms. 24:17; 3 Kgdms. 8:54; 9:1; 2 Chr. 7:1; 20:23; 24:14; 29:29; 31:1) to translate כְּכַלּוֹת.
  • [26] Cf., e.g., t. Hag. 2:12 (Vienna MS); t. Meil. 1:5 (Vienna MS); t. Ohol. 5:11 (Vienna MS); t. Zav. 1:8 (ed. Zuckermandel, 677); Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Nezikin chpt. 4 (ed. Lauterbach, 2:381). Most of these examples are cited in Yohanan the Immerser’s Question, Comment to L9.
  • [27] The only examples of אֶחָד מִתַּלְמִידִים we have found in tannaic sources are in Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Nezikin chpt. 10 (ed. Lauterbach, 2:411); Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Shabbata chpt. 2 (ed. Lauterbach, 2:501); Sifre Num. §107 (ed. Horovitz, 106).
  • [28] The noun תַּלְמִיד does not occur at all in the Hebrew fragments of Ben Sira, or in DSS. In the Mishnah, by contrast, תַּלְמִיד occurs over 40xx. On the term תַּלְמִיד, see Hurvitz, 239-240.
  • [29] The noun μαθητής does not occur in LXX except for three passages in Codex Alexandrinus (Jer. 13:21; 20:11; 26:9). See Karl Rengstorf, “μαθητής,” TDNT, 4:415-460, esp. 426.
  • [30] Most instances of μανθάνειν in LXX occur as the translation of לָמַד (lāmad, “learn,” “study”). See Hatch-Redpath, 2:895. The noun תַּלְמִיד derives from the same root as the verb לָמַד.
  • [31] For a discussion of the rabbinic concept of discipleship, see David N. Bivin, “First-century Discipleship.”
  • [32] Text according to MS Jerusalem, Yad Harav Herzog 1. With the exception of a few differences in spelling, the text of MS Firenze, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, II.1.8-9 is identical. See the National Library of Israel’s Rabbinic Manuscripts Online.
  • [33] Text according to MS New York, Jewish Theological Seminary, Rab. 15. MS Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, Suppl. Heb. 1337 reads אד[ם] אחד מתלמידי ישו הנוצרי. See the National Library of Israel’s Rabbinic Manuscripts Online.
  • [34] On the use of “lord” as a title in first-century Hebrew, see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L10.
  • [35] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:316-317.
  • [36] Tomson, “The Lord’s Prayer (Didache 8) at the Faultline of Judaism and Christianity,” 171-172.
  • [37] See Shmuel Safrai, “Gathering in the Synagogues on Festivals, Sabbaths and Weekdays,” British Archaeological Reports (International Series) 449 (1989): 7-15, esp. 11; Tomson, “The Lord’s Prayer (Didache 8) at the Faultline of Judaism and Christianity,” 175-183.
  • [38] See Kaufmann Kohler, “Lord’s Prayer,” JE, 8:183-184; Tomson, “The Lord’s Prayer (Didache 8) at the Faultline of Judaism and Christianity,” 178.
  • [39] On παράπτωμα as “sin,” see Taylor, 467.
  • [40] Tomson, “The Lord’s Prayer (Didache 8) at the Faultline of Judaism and Christianity,” 171; cf. Taylor, 467; Marcus, 2:787.
  • [41] For examples of before πάτερ, see Philo, Mut. §227; Ios. §183; Josephus, J.W. 4:628; Ant. 16:119. Instances of the vocative πάτερ without include Philo, Mut. §230 (2xx); Abr. §173; QG 1 4:227; Jos., J.W. 1:621, 630, 632, 633 (2xx), 634, 635; Ant. 6:126, 127, 209; 16:105. Neither author has instances of vocative πάτερ + possessive pronoun.
  • [42] According to Vermes, “The best explanation for the presence of the briefer form of address [in Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer—DNB and JNT] is that this is the formula regularly used by Luke (see Luke 10:21, 22:42, [against Abba, Father, in Mark 14:36 and ‘My Father’ in Matt. 26:39]; Luke 23:34, 46). His habit of employing ‘Father’ accounts for the shortening of the original ‘Our Father who art in heaven’” (Vermes, 224).
  • [43] See, e.g., Jeremias, Prayers, 96; Fitzmyer, 2:902; Davies-Allison, 1:600; Bovon, 2:85; Tomson, “The Lord’s Prayer (Didache 8) at the Faultline of Judaism and Christianity,” 168-169.
  • [44] See Dalman, 191-192; Gerhard Kittel, “ἀββᾶ,” TDNT, 1:6; Jeremias, Prayers, 55-57, 96.
  • [45] For the presumed obsolescence of אָבִי, see Jeremias, Prayers, 22-23, 56. Cf. Dalman, 192.
  • [46] Scholars differ on the dating of Tobit. Flusser suggested a date as early as the fifth to fourth century B.C.E., whereas Nickelsburg suggested a date around 200 B.C.E. See David Flusser, “Psalms, Hymns and Prayers,” in Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period (CRINT II.2; ed. Michael E. Stone; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 551-577, esp. 556; George E. Nickelsburg, “Stories of Biblical and Early Post-Biblical Times,” in Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period (CRINT II.2; ed. Michael E. Stone; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 33-87, esp. 45.
  • [47] On the dating of the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns, see Devorah Dimant, “Qumran Sectarian Literature,” in Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period (CRINT II.2; ed. Michael E. Stone; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 483-550, esp. 522-523. Additional examples of אָבִי in DSS are found in 4QTNaph (4Q215) 1 III, 7, 10; 4Q372 1 I, 16; 4Q460 5 I, 6; 4Q526 1 I, 1; 11QPsa (11Q5) XIX, 17; XXVIII, 3.
  • [48] Jeremias was aware of this example, but he considered “My Father who is in heaven” to be a fossilized form that did not represent colloquial speech. See Jeremias, Prayers, 22-23.
  • [49] In the parallels to Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42 has the vocative πάτερ and Matt. 26:39 has πάτερ μου.
  • [50] Lindsey believed that the author of Mark often picked up words and phrases from the writings of Paul with which to embellish and dramatize the narratives and speeches in his Gospel. Since αββα ὁ πατήρ (“Abba, Father…”) appears twice in the Pauline Epistles (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6), the author of Mark may have picked up this phrase from the writings of Paul. See Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “Sources of the Markan Pick-ups”; idem, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan ‘Pick-ups’ and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists.” See also Joshua N. Tilton and David N. Bivin, “LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups,” under the entry for Mark 14:36.
  • [51] In LXX the vocative form πάτερ (pater, “Father!”), with no possessive pronoun, is the translation of אָבִי (’āvi, “my father”) in Gen. 22:7; 27:18, 34, 38 (2xx); 48:18; 4 Kgdms. 2:12 (2xx); 6:21; 13:14 (2xx). Only in Judg. 11:36 is אָבִי translated with the vocative + possessive pronoun, πάτερ μου.
  • [52] In LXX the vocative form μῆτερ (mēter, “Mother!”), with no possessive pronoun, is the translation of אִמִּי (’imi, “my mother”) in Jer. 15:10.
  • [53] In LXX the vocative form υἱέ (huie, “Son!”), with no possessive pronoun, is the translation of בְּנִי (beni, “my son”) in Gen. 27:8; Prov. 1:8, 10; 2:1; 3:1, 11, 21; 4:10, 20; 5:1; 6:1, 3, 20; 7:1; 23:15, 19, 26; 24:13, 21; 27:11. A more literal rendition of בְּנִי as υἱέ μου (huie mou, “my son”) is found in Gen. 27:1; 49:9; 2 Kgdms. 13:25; 18:22; 19:1 (5xx), 5 (2xx); 1 Chr. 22:11; 28:9; Eccl. 12:12.
  • [54] In LXX the vocative form θύγατερ, with no possessive pronoun, is the translation of בִּתִּי (biti, “my daughter”) in Ruth 2:2, 8, 22; 3:1, 10, 11, 16, 18. Only in Judg. 11:35 is בִּתִּי translated with the vocative + possessive pronoun, θύγατέρ μου.
  • [55] In LXX the vocative form ἄδελφε (adelfe, “Brother!”), with no possessive pronoun, is the translation of אָחִי (’āḥi, “my brother”) in Gen. 33:9; 2 Kgdms. 20:9; 3 Kgdms. 9:13; 13:30; Jer. 22:18. Only in 2 Kgdms. 1:26 and 13:12 is אָחִי translated with the vocative + possessive pronoun, ἄδελφέ μου. Likewise, in LXX the plural vocative form ἀδελφοί (adelfoi, “Brothers!”) is the translation of אַחַי (’aḥai, “my brothers”) in Gen. 19:7; 29:4; Judg. 19:23; 1 Chr. 28:2.
  • [56] In LXX the vocative form δέσποτα (despota, “Lord!”), with no possessive pronoun, is the translation of אֲדֹנִי (adoni, “my lord”) in Josh. 5:14; it is the translation of אֲדֹנָי (adonāi, “my lords”; usually in reference to God) in Gen. 15:2, 8; Jer. 1:6; 4:10; Dan. 9:15, 16, 17. Likewise, in LXX the vocative form κύριε (kūrie, “Lord!”), with no possessive pronoun, is the translation of אֲדֹנִי (adoni, “my lord”) in Gen. 23:6, 11, 15; 24:18; 31:35; 33:8, 15; 42:10; 43:20; 44:18, 19; Exod. 32:22; Num. 11:28; 12:11; Judg. 6:13; Ruth 2:13; 1 Kgdms. 1:15, 26; 22:12; 24:9; 25:26; 26:17; 3 Kgdms. 3:17, 26; 21:4; 4 Kgdms. 6:5, 15, 26; 8:5; Zech. 1:9; 4:4, 5, 13; 6:4; Jer. 44[37]:20; Dan. 10:16; 12:8. On the other hand, we find the more literal rendition κύριέ μου (kūrie mou, “my lord”) as the translation of אֲדֹנִי in Judg. 4:18; 1 Kgdms. 25:24; 2 Kgdms. 14:9, 19, 22; 16:4; 19:27; 3 Kgdms. 1:13, 17, 18, 20, 24; 2:38; 18:7; 4 Kgdms. 4:16; 6:12. (On אֲדוֹנִי, see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L10.) Similarly, in LXX the vocative form κύριε, with no possessive pronoun, is the translation of אֲדֹנָי (adonāi, “my lords”; usually in reference to God) in Gen. 18:3, 30, 32; 19:18; 20:4; Exod. 4:10, 13; 5:22; 15:17; Num. 14:17; Deut. 3:24; 9:26; Josh. 7:7; Judg. 6:15, 22; 13:8; 16:28; 3 Kgdms. 8:53; 2 Esd. 11:11; Ps. 34[35]:17, 22; 37[38]:10, 16, 23; 43[44]:24; 50[51]:17; 54[55]:10; 56[57]:10; 58[59]:12; 61[62]:13; 68[69]:7; 70[71]:5; 72[73]:20; 78[79]:12; 85[86]:3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 15; 88[89]:50, 51; 89[90]:1; 108[109]:21; 129[130]:2, 3; 139[140]:8; 140[141]:8; Amos 7:2, 5; Isa. 6:11; 38:16; Jer. 14:13; 39[32]:17; Lam. 3:58; Ezek. 4:14; 9:8; 11:13; 21:5; Dan. 9:4, 7, 19 (2xx). The more literal rendition of אֲדֹנָי as κύριέ μου is found in 2 Kgdms. 7:18, 19 (2xx), 20, 22, 28, 29.
  • [57] Cf. Tomson, “The Lord’s Prayer (Didache 8) at the Faultline of Judaism and Christianity,” 169.
  • [58] The reading ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ is one of the Didache’s variations from Matthew that suggests that the author of the Didache copied the Lord’s Prayer from a source other than the Greek text of Matthew.
  • [59] See Jeremias, Prayers, 89.
  • [60] David Flusser, “The Synagogue and the Church in the Synoptic Gospels” (JS1, 20-21).
  • [61] The phrase אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם is found, for example, in m. Sot. 9:15 (3xx); y. Hag. 2:1 [9a]. Note these similar phrases:

    • אֲבִי שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם (“my Father in heaven”): Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, BaḤodesh chpt. 6 (ed. Lauterbach, 2:325); Sifra, Kedoshim chpt. 11 (ed. Weiss, 93d)
    • אֲבִיכֶם שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם (“your [plur.] Father who is in heaven”): m. Yom. 8:9
    • אָבִיךָ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם (“your [sing.] Father who is in heaven”): m. Avot 5:20
    • אֲבִיהֶם שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם (“their Father who is in heaven”): m. Rosh Hash. 3:8; t. Peah 4:21 (Vienna MS); t. Shab. 13:5 (Vienna MS); t. Bab. Kam. 7:6, 7 (Vienna MS); Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Amalek chpt. 2 (ed. Lauterbach, 2:268); Sifre Deut. §352 (ed. Finkelstein, 409); Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 17:6 (ed. Schechter, 66)
    • אֲבִיהֶן שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם (“their Father who is in heaven”): t. Shek. 1:6 (Vienna MS); Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Vayassa‘ chpt. 1 (ed. Lauterbach, 1:227); Baḥodesh chpt. 11 (ed. Lauterbach, 2:353); Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 35:8 (ed. Schechter, 106)
    • אָבִיו שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם (“his Father who is in heaven”): m. Kil. 9:8; t. Kil. 5:21 (Vienna MS); t. Hag. 2:1 (Vienna MS); t. Hul. 2:24 (Vienna MS); Sifre Deut. §306 (ed. Finkelstein, 341)

  • [62] In Hebrew, “the name of the LORD” is an idiomatic way of saying “the LORD.” See David N. Bivin, “Blessed Be the ‘Name’!
  • [63] See Jastrow, 1355.
  • [64] See Shmuel Safrai, “Martyrdom in the Teachings of the Tannaim,” in Sjaloom; ter nagedachtenis van Mgr. Dr. A.C. Ramselaar (Hilversum: B. Folkertsma Stichting voor Talmudica, 1983), 146-147; and idem, “Oral Torah,” in The Literature of the Sages (ed. Shmuel Safrai; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987), 95. For an introduction to the concept of sanctifying the divine name, see Norman Lamm, “Kiddush Ha-Shem and Ḥillul Ha-Shem,” in Encyclopaedia Judaica (ed. F. Skolnik and M. Birnbaum; 22 vols; 2d ed.; Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA; Jerusalem: Keter Publishing Ltd., 2007), 12:139-142. For a discussion of Qidush HaShem and the teachings of Jesus, see Joshua N. Tilton, Jesus’ Gospel: Searching for the Core of Jesus’ Message, 42-48.
  • [65] According to Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Shirata chpt. 4 (ed. Lauterbach, 1:191), God sanctifies his own name by fighting on Israel’s behalf.
  • [66] For a discussion of the political aspect of Jesus’ message, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “The Kingdom of Heaven in the Teachings of Jesus: Political Aspect”; idem, Conduct in Town, Comment to L88.
  • [67] Rabbi Yehudah bar Yehezkiel was born ca. 220 C.E. See Jacob Z. Lauterbach, “Judah b. Ezekiel,” JE, 7:342-343.
  • [68] Rabbi Shimon ben Yehozadak was a first-generation Amora in the land of Israel (ca. 220 C.E.). See Jacob Z. Lauterback, “Simeon b. Jehozadak,” JE, 11:351.
  • [69] See Brad Young, “The Lord’s Prayer 4: ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ (Part 1),” under the subheading “Establishing the Kingdom.”
  • [70] On reconstructing ἔρχεσθαι with בָּא (bā’, “come”), see Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L4.
  • [71] Cf. Allen, 58; Albright-Mann, 75. Already in Ezekiel we find that the exile of Israel led to the profanation of God’s name, because the Gentiles assumed Israel’s God must be impotent. Consequently, the return from exile would result in the sanctification of God’s name (Ezek. 36:20-24). On this aspect of sanctifying the divine name, see Harry G. Friedman, “Kiddush Hashem and Hillul Hashem,” Hebrew Union College Annual (1904): 193-214.
  • [72] See Stern, 1:201. On Roman responses to the defeat of Bar Kokhva, see Moshe David Herr, “Persecutions and Martyrdom in Hadrian’s Days,” Scripta Hierosolymitana 23 (1972): 85-125, esp. 115-116. To rebut the argument that the God of Israel must be weaker than the gods of the Romans, the sages claimed: “You will find that every people and kingdom that subjugated Israel also ruled the whole world from one end to the other, which is for the glory of Israel” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, BeShallaḥ chpt. 2 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:132]). In other words, God only permitted world conquerors to subdue Israel, which shows that God actually defended Israel’s honor (and his own) by not allowing weak kingdoms to conquer Israel. The God of Israel was also scorned among Gentiles who regarded him as barbaric on account of the strange practices—most notably circumcision—he required Israel to observe (cf. Tacitus, Historiae 5:5; Origen, Cels. 5:25). They also ridiculed him, claiming that in the Jerusalem Temple the Jews worshiped an image with a donkey’s head (cf. Jos., Ag. Ap. 2:80). See Stern, nos. 28, 63, 247, 259, 281.
  • [73] Titus, the son of Emperor Vespasian, was the Roman general who oversaw the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E.
  • [74] On the Gentiles’ recognition of God’s reign coinciding with the redemption of Israel, see Paula Fredriksen, “Judaism, the Circumcision of Gentiles, and Apocalyptic Hope: Another Look at Galatians 1 and 2,” Journal of Theological Studies 42.2 (1991): 532-564, esp. 544-548.
  • [75] Compare the following requests in Ben Sira to the petitions in the Lord’s Prayer:

    הניף <יד> על עם נכר ויראו את גבורתיך כאשר נקדשת לעיניהם בנו כן לעינינו הכבד <בם> וידעו כאשר ידענו כי אין אלהים זולתך

    ἔπαρον τὴν χεῖρά σου ἐπὶ ἔθνη ἀλλότρια, καὶ ἰδέτωσαν τὴν δυναστείαν σου. ὥσπερ ἐνώπιον αὐτῶν ἡγιάσθης ἐν ἡμῖν, οὕτως ἐνώπιον ἡμῶν μεγαλυνθείης ἐν αὐτοῖς· καὶ ἐπιγνώτωσάν σε, καθάπερ καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐπέγνωμεν ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν θεὸς πλὴν σοῦ, κύριε.

    Lift up your hand against the foreign peoples, let them see your might. Just as you were sanctified before them in us, so be glorified before us in them. And make them know, just as we have known, that there is no God but you, O Lord. (Sir. 36:2-4[3-5])

    On the sanctification of God’s name and the coming of God’s Kingdom, see Moshe Weinfeld, “The Day of the LORD: Aspirations for the Kingdom of God in the Bible and Jewish Liturgy,” in his Normative and Sectarian Judaism in the Second Temple Period (London: T&T Clark, 2005), 68-89, esp. 85-86; idem, “Expectations of the Divine Kingdom in Biblical and Postbiblical Literature,” in Normative and Sectarian Judaism, 294-304, esp. 300-301.

  • [76] See David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “The Kingdom of Heaven in the Teachings of Jesus: Political Aspect.”
  • [77] On the use of שְׁאוֹר (she’ōr, “leaven”) as a metaphor for the evil inclination, see Jastrow, 1505; Brad H. Young, “The Lord’s Prayer 6: ‘Thy Will Be Done,’” under the subheading “Overcoming.”
  • [78] Both rabbinic literature and the Synoptic Gospels typically lack a concept of personal salvation. Rather, individuals enjoy salvation as they participate in the redemption of Israel. Even the concept of the resurrection is not simply about personal salvation, it is rather a guarantee that the individual will be present when Israel is finally redeemed if he or she did not live to see God’s promises to Israel fulfilled in his or her lifetime.
  • [79] Prayers including the phrase יְהִי רָצוֹן are found, for instance, in m. Ber. 9:3 (2xx); m. Taan. 4:8; m. Avot 5:20; b. Ber. 16b.
  • [80] In LXX γενηθήτω is the translation of יְהִי in Gen. 1:3, 6; 9:27; 49:17; Exod. 10:21; Judg. 6:39; 4 Kgdms. 2:9; Ps. 34[35]:6; 68[69]:23; 108[109]:12, 13; 118[119]:76, 80. Likewise, γενηθήτω is the translation of תְּהִי in 1 Chr. 21:17; Ps. 68[69]:26; 79[80]:18; 108[109]:19; and of תִּהְיֶינָה in Ps. 129[130]:2.
  • [81] In LXX γίνεσθαι (ginesthai, “to be,” “to become”) usually translates הָיָה, but γίνεσθαι is the translation of qal forms of עָשָׂה in Gen. 42:25; 44:2; 50:20; Exod. 8:22; Num. 28:6; 3 Kgdms. 22:54; 2 Chr. 24:8; 2 Esd. 13:16; Prov. 24:6; Job 31:15 (2xx); Jer. 8:8; Ezek. 46:23. Likewise, γίνεσθαι is the translation of nif‘al forms of נַעֲשָׂה in Lev. 18:30; Num. 6:4; 15:24; Deut. 13:15; 17:4; Judg. 16:11; 2 Kgdms. 17:23; 3 Kgdms. 10:20; 4 Kgdms. 23:22, 23; 2 Chr. 9:19; 35:18; 2 Esd. 10:3; 15:18 (2xx); 16:16; Esth. 9:14; Eccl. 1:13; 4:1; Mal. 2:11; Isa. 46:10; Ezek. 9:4; Dan. 9:12 (2xx); 11:36.
  • [82] For examples of עָשָׂה + רָצוֹן in MT, see Ps. 40:9; 103:21; 143:10; Ezra 10:11. In each of these instances the LXX renders עָשָׂה with ποιεῖν.
  • [83] Young writes, “The supplication ‘May your will be done’ has more to do with accomplishing God’s will than it does with merely discerning his will” (Brad H. Young, “The Lord’s Prayer 6: ‘Thy Will Be Done,’” under the subheading “Accomplishing”).
  • [84] See Lindsey, JRL, 109; Brad H. Young, “The Lord’s Prayer 6: ‘Thy Will Be Done,’” under the subheading “Rabbinic Illumination.”
  • [85] Metzger does not even discuss Matt. 6:10 in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament.
  • [86] In a survey of all the instances of ὡς in the five books of Moses, we found that ὡς was supplied by the LXX translators in Gen. 31:15; Exod. 3:4; 36:31[39:24]; Lev. 25:35; 26:36; Num. 23:19 (2xx); Deut. 32:41. In these examples there is no word corresponding to ὡς in the Hebrew text.
  • [87] In LXX the combination ὡς ἐν occurs in Deut. 2:30; 4:20; Ps. 73[74]:6; 77[78]:15; 94[95]:8; 105[106]:9; Zeph. 3:17; Zech. 10:7; Isa. 51:9, 10; Jer. 51[44]:22; Lam. 2:7; Ezek. 16:47; Dan. 11:34.
  • [88] Rabbi Eliezer’s prayer in t. Ber. 3:7 (“May your will be done in heaven above, grant peace of mind to those who fear you [below]…”; see above, Comment to L14) might also envision a cosmic struggle. References to a battle in the heavenly realms that is also played out on earth are found, for example, in 1QM I, 8-17; Eph. 6:12; Rev. 12:7-12.
  • [89] In MT we find the formula בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ in Deut. 3:24; Joel 3:3; Ps. 113:6; 135:6; 1 Chr. 29:11; 2 Chr. 6:14.
  • [90] In DSS we find examples of בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ in 1QM X, 8; 1QHa VIII, 3; 4Q216 [4QJuba] VII, 5, 9; 4Q504 5 I, 6.
  • [91] The formula בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ occurs in m. Shevu. 4:13; Gen. Rab. 12:11 (4xx).
  • [92] In LXX בַּשָּׁמַיִם is translated ἐν οὐρανῷ/οὐρανοῖς in Josh. 2:11; 4 Kgdms. 7:2; 2 Chr. 6:14; 20:6; Ps. 2:4; 10[11]:4; Job 16:19; Jer. 10:13; Lam. 3:41.
  • [93] In LXX ἐπὶ γῆς/γῆν is the translation of בָּאָרֶץ in Job 24:18 and of עַל הָאָרֶץ in 1 Chr. 29:15; Ezek. 26:16.
  • [94] In LXX ἐν γῇ is the translation of בָּאָרֶץ in Job 14:8 and Jer. 7:7.
  • [95] Wheat bread, however, was preferable. Cf. Rev. 6:6; m. Ket. 5:8. See Michael Zohary, Plants of the Bible (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 74-76. Broshi lists several reasons for the preference for wheat: “Barley flour does not rise well, its meal tastes bad, and it is difficult to digest.” See Magen Broshi, “The Diet of Palestine in the Roman Period—Introductory Notes,” Israel Museum Journal 5 (1986): 41-56, esp. 43.
  • [96] According to Safrai, “The meal of an ordinary person would have consisted of bread with a vinegar and/or olive oil dip in the morning, and bread with lentil soup and an egg or some other substitute in the evening.” See Ze’ev Safrai, “Agriculture and Farming” (OHJDL, 246-263, quotation on 252). Broshi estimated that bread supplied around half of an average person’s daily caloric intake (“Diet of Palestine in the Roman Period,” 42).
  • [97] Broshi, “Diet of Palestine in the Roman Period,” 43.
  • [98] The amount of work the breadmaking process requires is acknowledged in a rabbinic statement:

    בן זומא כשראה אוכלוסין בהר הבית או′ ברוך מי שברא את אלו לשמשני כמה יגע אדם הראשון ולא טעם לוגמה אחת עד שזרע וחרש וקצר ועמר ודש וזרה וברר וטחן והרקיד ולש ואפה ואחר כך אכל ואני עומד בשחרית ומוצא אני את כל אילו לפני

    Ben Zoma, when he saw a crowd [of people] on the Temple Mount, said, “Blessed is the One who created all these [people in the crowd] to serve me! How much the first Adam had to toil: he did not taste a mouthful until he sowed, and plowed, and harvested, and sheaved, and threshed, and winnowed, and cleared, and milled, and sifted, and kneaded, and baked and only then did he eat. But I rise in the morning and find all these [tasks already completed] before me.” (t. Ber. 6:2; Vienna MS)

  • [99] On grinding grain into flour, see Broshi, “Diet of Palestine in the Roman Period,” 44.
  • [100] See Shmuel Safrai, “Home and Family,” (Safrai-Stern, 2:728-792, esp. 740).
  • [101] See Werner Foerster, “ἐπιούσιος,” TDNT, 2:590-599.
  • [102] The reported attestations of ἐπιούσιος in Greek papyri and inscriptions have proven to be erroneous. See Bruce M. Metzger, “How Many Times Does ‘Epiousios’ Occur Outside the Lord’s Prayer?” Expository Times 69.2 (1957): 52-54; M. Nijman and K. A. Worp, “‘ΕΠΙΟΥΣΙΟΣ’ in a Documentary Papyrus?” Novum Testamentum 41.3 (1999): 231-234.
  • [103] See Origen, De oratione (Prayer) 27:7.
  • [104] See Joseph B. Lightfoot, On A Fresh Revision of the English New Testament (New York: Macmillan, 1891), 217-229; Colin Hemer, “ἐπιούσιος,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 22 (1984): 81-94.
  • [105] Text cited according to Davies-Allison, 1:608 n. 45.
  • [106] Jerome evidently confused the Gospel of the Hebrews with the Gospel of the Nazarenes. See Philipp Vielhauer, “Jewish-Christian Gospels,” in New Testament Apocrypha (ed. Wilhelm Schneemelcher; English trans. ed. R. McL. Wilson; 2 vols.; Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963-66), 1:117-165, esp. 126-128.
  • [107] Translation according to Vielhauer, “Jewish-Christian Gospels,” 1:147.
  • [108] According to Vielhauer, “The GN [i.e., Gospel of the Nazarenes—DNB and JNT] was clearly an Aramaic version of the Greek Mt., but, as the fictional enlargements of canonical scenes, many corrections and deletions and the insertion of new sayings of the Lord show, it was no accurate translation, but a targumistic rendering of the canonical Gospel of Mt.” (Vielhauer, “Jewish-Christian Gospels,” 1:144).
  • [109] As Vielhauer states, “The Aramaic GN [i.e., Gospel of the Nazarenes—DNB and JNT]…assumes, at least here, the Greek text of Matthew” (Vielhauer, “Jewish-Christian Gospels,” 1:142). Cf. David Flusser, “Hillel and Jesus: Two Ways of Self-Awareness,” in Hillel and Jesus: Comparative Studies of Two Major Religious Leaders (ed. James H. Charlesworth and Loren L. Johns; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997), 71-107, esp. 72 n. 5.
  • [110] This line of argumentation is adopted by Jeremias (Prayers, 100); cf. Lightfoot, On A Fresh Revision of the English New Testament, 237; Luz, 1:321.
  • [111] According to Jeremias, “Jesus grants to them, as the children of God, the privilege of stretching forth their hands to grasp the glory of the consummation, to fetch it down, ‘to believe it down’, to pray it down—right into their poor lives, even now, even here, today” (Prayers, 102).
  • [112] Jeremias, Prayers, 100. For a critique of Jeremias’ view, see Young, JHJP, 31-33.
  • [113] Jean Carmignac, “Hebrew Translations of the Lord’s Prayer: An Historical Survey,” in Biblical and Near Eastern Studies: Essays in Honor of William Sanford LaSor (ed. Gary A. Tuttle; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 18-79, esp. 59.
  • [114] Carmignac, “Hebrew Translations of the Lord’s Prayer,” 64.
  • [115] In MT לְמָחָר occurs in Exod. 8:6, 19; Num. 11:18; Josh. 7:13; Esth. 5:12.
  • [116] See Lev. 23:19-20.
  • [117] Commenting on Exod. 16:20, the sages said that those who tried to keep manna for the next day, contrary to Moses’ instructions, were the Israelites who lacked faith (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Vayassa‘ chpt. 5 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:242]).

    A tradition concerning Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai provides further evidence against reconstructing with לַחְמֵנוּ לְמָחָר in the Lord’s Prayer:

    ר′ שמעון אומר מפני מה לא היה יורד מן לישראל בפעם אחד בשנה כדי שיהפכו את לבן לאביהם שבשמים משל למה הדבר דומה למלך שגזר על בנו להיות מפרנסו פעם אחת בשנה ולא היה מקביל פני אביו אלא בשעת פרנסתו. פעם אחת חזר וגזר עליו להיות מפרנסו בכל יום אמר הבן אפילו איני מקבל פני אבי אלא בשעת פרנסתי דיי לי. כך ישראל היו בביתו של אדם חמש זכרים או חמש נקבות היה יושב ומצפה ואומר אוי לי שמא לא ירד המן למחר ונמצינו מתים ברעב יהי רצון מלפניך שירד ונמצאו הופכים את לבם לשמים

    Rabbi Shimon says: Why did the manna not descend for Israel once a year? So that they would turn their hearts to their father in heaven. A parable: To what may the matter be compared? To a king who decreed concerning his son that his provision be given once in a year. But his father did not receive his company except at the time of his provision. One time he reconsidered and decreed concerning him that his provision be given every day. The son said, “Even if I visit my father only at the time of my provision, it is enough for me.” So with Israel. In the house of a man who had five boys or five girls, he would sit and look ahead [to the future] and say, “Woe to me! Perhaps the manna for the next day [לְמָחָר] will not descend, and we will be found dead from hunger. May it be pleasing before you that it will descend!” So they were found to turn their hearts toward heaven. (Sifre Num. §89 [ed. Horovitz, 90]; cf. b. Yom. 76a)

    Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai’s answer is that if a year’s worth of manna had been given all at once at the beginning of the year, the Israelites in the desert would have only prayed to God once a year. Since God enjoys the company of his children, however, he devised a plan so that Israel would pray to him every day. The remedy for worrying about tomorrow was for Israel to direct their hearts to their Father in heaven through prayer each day. The idea expressed in Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai’s answer is so similar to that in the Lord’s Prayer that it is likely both are based on a common tradition concerning daily prayer for the needs of the present day.

  • [118] The earliest example of לֶחֶם חֻקֵּנוּ in a Hebrew translation of the Lord’s Prayer dates from 1553. This translation was made by Johannes Isaac Levita, a Jewish convert to Christianity. The petition in question reads: לחם חקינו תן לנו היום. See Carmignac, “Hebrew Translations of the Lord’s Prayer,” 33. Delitzsch’s influential Hebrew translation of the New Testament also has לֶחֶם חֻקֵּנוּ in the Lord’s Prayer. More recently, Brad Young has made the case for לֶחֶם חֻקֵּנוּ as the best Hebrew reconstruction of τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον. See Young, JHJP, 33; idem, “The Lord’s Prayer 7: ‘Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread,’” under the subheading “Hebrew Background.”
  • [119] A paraphrase of Jer. 37:21 is found in Pesikta Rabbati:

    ויצוה צדקיהו על ירמיהו ונתנו בית האסורים ונתן לו לחם ליום עד שכלה לחם מירושלים

    And Zedekiah gave a command concerning Jeremiah and they put him in prison and bread for the day was given to him [or, “bread was given to him daily”—DNB and JNT] until Jerusalem ran out of bread. (Pesikta Rabbati 26:4 [ed. Friedmann])

  • [120] Examples of לֶחֶם + first person plural pronominal suffix (לַחְמֵנוּ) are found in Num. 14:9; Josh. 9:12; Isa. 4:1; Lam. 5:9. In the Mishnah we find examples of לֶחֶם + pronominal suffix in m. Taan. 4:2 (לַחְמִי) and m. Men. 7:3, 5 (לַחְמָהּ), but no examples of לַחְמֵנוּ.
  • [121] See Lightfoot, On A Fresh Revision of the English New Testament, 226; Hemer, “ἐπιούσιος,” 83, 90.
  • [122] See Marshall, 459.
  • [123] See Jeremias, Prayers, 92; Fitzmyer, 2:904; Bovon, 2:88.
  • [124] Adolf Harnack, The Sayings of Jesus: The Second Source of St. Matthew and St. Luke (trans. J. R. Wilkinson; 1908; repr., Eugene, Oreg.: Wipf & Stock, 2004), 65.
  • [125] See Demands of Discipleship, under the subheading “Conjectured Stages of Transmission.”
  • [126] See David Flusser, “Jesus and Judaism: Jewish Perspectives,” in Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism (ed. Harold W. Attridge and Gohei Hata; Detroit: Wayne State University, 1992), 80-109, esp. 86; idem, “Hillel and Jesus: Two Ways of Self-Awareness,” 72; and idem, “‘Have You Ever Seen a Lion Toiling as a Porter?’” (JSTP2, 334 n. 12). See also Brad H. Young, “The Lord’s Prayer 7: ‘Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread.’” For a different view, see Randall Buth, “Language, Linguistics,” in Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible (ed. Kevin J. Vanhoozer; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 432.
  • [127] On this passage see Menahem Kister, “Allegorical Interpretations of Biblical Narratives in Rabbinic Literature, Philo, and Origen: Some Case Studies,” in New Approaches to the Study of Biblical Interpretation in Judaism of the Second Temple Period and in Early Christianity (ed. Gary A. Anderson, Ruth A. Clements, and David Satran; Leiden: Brill, 2013), 133-183, esp. 165-166.
  • [128] In Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Vayassa‘ chpt. 3 (ed. Lauterbach, 1:234-235) this saying is attributed to Rabbi Eliezer of Modiin, but as Flusser noted the parallels in b. Sot. 48b and Midrash ha-Gadol prove that this saying goes back to Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus. See David Flusser, “‘Have You Ever Seen a Lion Toiling as a Porter?’” (Flusser, JSTP2, 331-342, esp. 335 n. 15).
  • [129] On the necessity to give up one’s profession in order to become a full-time disciple, see Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L96-98; Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L33-35.
  • [130] See Joshua N. Tilton, “Gentiles Demand All These Things.”
  • [131] On the parallels between Torah study in rabbinic literature and the Kingdom of Heaven in the Gospels, see Chana Safrai, “The Kingdom of Heaven and the Study of Torah” (JS1, 169-189). On “entering the Kingdom of Heaven” as a technical term for becoming a full-time disciple of Jesus, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “The Kingdom of Heaven in the Teachings of Jesus: Jesus’ Band of Itinerating Disciples”; Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L64.
  • [132] Ancient Jewish sources also link “treasure in heaven” to almsgiving. See Jeffrey P. Garcia, “‘Treasure in Heaven’: Examining an Ancient Idiom for Charity.” There is no reason, however, why Jesus could not have fused the two traditions about treasure in heaven to form a dynamic new idea: when disciples sold their possessions and gave the proceeds to the poor in order to be free to follow Jesus, they not only made a huge investment in God’s heavenly bank account, they could also begin to draw on the interest in the form of manna (i.e., a day’s provision every day). Such a view is consistent with the rabbinic statement that acts of mercy are among those things whose interest a person can enjoy in this world while the principal is laid up for him or her in the world to come (m. Peah 1:1).
  • [133] For a reflection on the economic aspect of the petition for today’s bread in the Lord’s Prayer, see Joseph Frankovic, “Over and Under-Familiarity with Matthew 6:11.”
  • [134] If the petition for today’s bread alluded to the manna from heaven story, would Jesus have permitted his followers to pray the Lord’s Prayer on the Sabbath? Bivin notes that according to the story in Exodus God did not rain down manna on the Sabbath, but provided a double portion of manna on the day before the Sabbath (Friday). Might, then, the disciples have refrained from praying the Lord’s Prayer on the Sabbath since the Israelites in the desert had already received their bread for the Sabbath on the preceding day?
  • [135] Joseph Heinemann, Prayer in the Talmud: Forms and Patterns (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1977), 188.
  • [136] We also find that a variant form of Rabbi Liezer’s prayer (cited above, Comment to L14) begins with an imperative. See b. Ber. 29b.
  • [137] See Joseph Heinemann, “The Background of Jesus’ Prayer in the Jewish Liturgical Tradition,” in The Lord’s Prayer and Jewish Liturgy (ed. Jakob J. Petuchowski and Michael Brocke; New York: Seabury Press, 1978), 81-89, esp. 85.
  • [138] In LXX the verb διδόναι (didonai, “to give”) is almost always the translation of נָתַן (nātan, “give”). See Hatch-Redpath, 1:317-327.
  • [139] Further examples of תֵּן לָנוּ are found in m. Shevu. 5:3; m. Avod. Zar. 5:7; Sifre Deut. §3 (ed. Finkelstein, 11); Gen. Rab. 81:2.
  • [140] In Genesis alone, σήμερον is the translation of הַיּוֹם in Gen. 4:14; 21:26; 22:14; 24:12, 42; 30:32; 31:43; 40:7; 41:9; 42:13, 32; 47:23.
  • [141] See David Flusser, “A New Sensitivity in Judaism and the Christian Message” (JOC, 469-489); idem, “Jesus and Judaism,” 86; idem, “Jesus’ Place in First-century Judaism and His Influence on Christian Doctrine,” under the subheading “The Golden Rule.”
  • [142] Unfortunately, this passage is missing in the extant Hebrew fragments of Ben Sira. Another ancient example of the triangular relationship between a person, God and fellow human beings is found in the book of Tobit:

    μὴ ἀποστρέψῃς τὸ πρόσωπόν σου ἀπὸ παντὸς πτωχοῦ, καὶ ἀπὸ σοῦ οὐ μὴ ἀποστραφῇ τὸ πρόσωπον τοῦ θεοῦ

    Do not turn your face away from any poor person, and the face of God shall not be turned away from you. (Tob. 4:7; NETS)

  • [143] Further examples of the triangular relationship between a person, God and fellow human beings are found in rabbinic sources, for instance:

    עֲבֵירוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַמָּקוֹם יוֹם הַכִּיפּוּרִים מְכַפֵּר וְשֶׁבֵּינוֹ לְבֵין חֲבֵירוֹ אֵין יוֹם הַכִּיפּוּרִים מְכַפֵּר עַד שֶׁיְּרַצֶּה אֶת חֲבֵירוֹ

    Sins that are between a person and the Omnipresent one—these the Day of Atonement covers. But sins that are between a person and his fellow—these the Day of Atonement does not cover until he appeases his fellow. (m. Yom. 8:9)

    וכל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירין לו על כל פשעיו שנאמר מי אל כמוך נושא עון ועובר על פשע למי נושא עון למי שעובר על פשע

    Whoso waives his right to retribution is forgiven all his sins, as it is stated, Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth the iniquity, and passeth by the transgression [Micah 7:18], [which means,] who is forgiven iniquity? He who passed by transgression [against himself]. (Derekh Eretz Zuta 8:3 [59a]; Soncino; b. Rosh Hash. 17a)

    This triangular relationship is also attested in NT outside the Gospels, cf., e.g., Col. 3:13; 1 John 4:20-21. On the reciprocity between forgiving others and receiving forgiveness from God, see Serge Ruzer and Mila Ginsburskaya, “Matt 6:1-18: Collation of Two Avenues to God’s Forgiveness,” in The Sermon on the Mount and its Jewish Setting (ed. Has-Jürgen Becker and Serge Ruzer; Paris: Gabalda, 2005), 151-177.

  • [144] See Jeremias, Prayers, 92; Marshall, 460-461; Fitzmyer, 2:906; Bovon, 2:91.
  • [145] See Lyndon Drake, “Did Jesus Oppose the prosbul in the Forgiveness Petition of the Lord’s Prayer?” Novum Testamentum 56 (2014): 233-244, esp. 242.
  • [146] On the agrarian basis of the first-century economy in the land of Israel, see Ze’ev Safrai, “The Agrarian Structure in Palestine in the Time of the Second Temple, Mishnah, and Talmud,” in The Rural Landscape of Ancient Israel (ed. Aren M. Maeir, Shimon Dar, and Ze’ev Safrai; BAR International Series 1121; Oxford: Archaeopress, 2003), 105-125.
  • [147] On the economic status of peasant farmers in the land of Israel in the first century, see Joseph Klausner, “The Economy of Judea in the Period of the Second Temple,” in The World History of the Jewish People: The Herodian Period (ed. Michael Avi-Yonah; New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1975), 179-205, esp. 189.
  • [148] On indebtedness as a major problem in first-century Jewish society in Israel, see Josephus, J.W. 2:427; Shimon Applebaum, “Economic Life in Palestine” (Safrai-Stern, 2:631-700, esp. 691-692); idem, “Judaea as a Roman Province; the Countryside as a Political and Economic Factor,” in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt 2.8 (1977): 355-386, esp. 368-373; P. A. Brunt, “Josephus on Social Conflicts in Roman Judaea,” in his Roman Imperial Themes (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990), 282-287, esp. 285; Martin Goodman, “The First Jewish Revolt: Social Conflict and the Problem of Debt,” Journal of Jewish Studies 33 (1982): 417-427.
  • [149] Moshe Weinfeld, Social Justice in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East (Jerusalem: Magnes; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995).
  • [150] Weinfeld, Social Justice in Ancient Israel, 147-148; Giovanni Battista Bazzana, “Basileia and Debt Relief: The Forgiveness of Debts in the Lord’s Prayer in the Light of Documentary Papyri,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 73 (2011): 511-525.
  • [151] Weinfeld, Social Justice in Ancient Israel, 45-56; idem, “The Counsel of the ‘Elders’ to Rehoboam and its Implications,” Maarav 3.1 (1982): 27-53.
  • [152] Weinfeld, Social Justice in Ancient Israel, 57-74.
  • [153] See Richard A. Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987), 246-255.
  • [154] On מָחַל (māḥal, “cancel debt,” “forgive”), חוֹב (ḥōv, “debt”) and חַיָּיב (ḥayāv, “debtor”), see David N. Bivin, “Hebraisms in the New Testament,” in Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics (4 vols.; ed. Geoffrey Khan; Leiden: Brill, 2013), 2:198-201, esp. 200.
  • [155] The Didache, reading differently than both Matthew and Luke with τὴν ὀφειλὴν ἡμῶν (tēn ofeilēn hēmōn, “our debt [sing.]”; Did. 8:2), supports Matthew’s fiscal imagery. This reading is one of the variations from Matthew’s version which suggests that the author of the Didache did not copy the Lord’s Prayer from the Gospel of Matthew.
  • [156] See Bazzana, “Basileia and Debt Relief,” 514.
  • [157] Below are a few examples of the pairing of ἀφιέναι with ἁμαρτία (hamartia, “sin”) in LXX:

    Οὕτως εἴπατε Ιωσηφ Ἄφες αὐτοῖς τὴν ἀδικίαν καὶ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν αὐτῶν

    Say this to Joseph: “Forgive us our wickedness and our sin.” (Gen. 50:17)

    ἄφες τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ

    Forgive this people the sin…. (Num. 14:19)

    ἄφες πάσας τὰς ἁμαρτίας μου

    …forgive all my sins. (Ps. 24:18)

    The pairing of ἀφιέναι with ἁμαρτία is also found in Pss. Sol. 9:7; Jos., Ant. 6:92; and in NT in Matt. 9:2-6 (and parallels); 12:31; Luke 7:47-49; John 20:23; Jas. 5:15; 1 John 1:9, 2:12.

  • [158] In addition to the examples already cited in Comment to L18, compare the following:

    ר′ ישמעאל ארבעה חלוקי כפרה הן עבר על מצות עשה ועשה תשובה אין זז ממקומו עד שמוחלין לו שנ′ שובו בנים שובבים ארפא משובתם

    Rabbi Ishmael [says], “There are four kinds of atonement: one who committed a transgression of the positive commandments [עבר על מצות] and who did repentance—he does not even move from his place before debt is forgiven him [עד שמוחלין לו], as it is said, Return, O faithless children, I will heal your faithlessness [Jer. 3:22]….” (t. Yom. 4:6; Vienna MS; cf. Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Baḥodesh chpt. 7 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:326]; Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 29:5 [ed. Schechter, 88])

    ר′ יוסה אומ′ חוטא אדם פעמים ושלש מוחלין לו ארבע אין מוחלין לו שנ′ נושא עון ופשע וחטאה ונקה עד כאן מנקה מיכן ואילך אין מנקה שנא′ כה אמר יי על שלשה פשעי ישראל וגו′‏

    Rabbi Yoseh says, “If a person sins [חוטא] two or three times the debt is forgiven him [מוחלין לו], but a fourth time the debt is not forgiven him [אין מוחלין לו], as it says, Forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin and declaring innocent [Exod. 34:7]. Up to this point he declares innocent, but beyond this point he does not declare innocent, as it is said, Thus says the LORD, ‘For three sins of Israel’ [Amos 2:6] etc.” (t. Yom. 4:13; Vienna MS)

    חסידים ואנשי מעשה היו מרקדין לפניהן באבוקות ואומרי′ לפניהם דברי תושבחות, מה היו אומרין, אשרי מי שלא חטא וכל מי שחטא ימחל

    The Hasidim and men of deeds would dance before them with flaming torches and would recite before them words of praise. What did they say? “Blessed is the one who has not sinned [שלא חטא], but all who have sinned [וכל מי שחטא] he will forgive the debt [ימחל].” (t. Suk. 4:2; Vienna MS)

    הרוגי בית דין יש להם חלק לעולם הבא מפני שמתוודין על עוונותיהם רחוק מבית הסקילה עשר אמות אומרין לו התוודה ומעשה באחד שיצא ליסקל אמרו לו התוודה אמ′ תהא מיתתי כפרה על כל עוונותי ואם עשיתי כן אל ימחל לי ויהא בית דין של ישר′ נקי וכשבא דבר לפני חכמ′ זלגו עיניהם דמעות אמרו להם להחזירו אי איפשר ואין לדבר סוף אלא הרי דמיו תלוי בצואר עדיו

    Those who are put to death by the court have a portion in the world to come because they confess their sins [עוונותיהם]. At a distance of ten cubits from the place of stoning they say to him, “Confess!” And there is an anecdote about someone who went out to be stoned. They said to him, “Confess!” He said, “May my death be an atonement for all my sins [עוונותי], but if I committed this [deed], may the debt not be forgiven me [אל ימחל לי] and may the court of Israel be innocent.” And when this word came before the sages, their eyes shed tears. They said to them, “To recall it [i.e., the sentence—DNB and JNT] is not possible and there would be no end to the matter, but behold: his blood hangs on the necks of those who testified against him.” (t. Sanh. 9:5 [ed. Zuckermandel, 429])

    יהא אדם שמח ביסורים יותר מן הטובה שאילו אדם בטובה כל ימיו אינו נמחל לו מעון שבידו ובמה נמחל לו ביסורין

    Let a person rejoice in trials more than from prosperity, for if a person enjoys prosperity all his days his debt will not be forgiven [אינו נמחל לו] for his iniquity [מעון]. And by what means is he forgiven? By means of trials. (Sifre Deut. §32 [ed. Finkelstein, 56]; cf. Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Baḥodesh chpt. 10 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:345])

    ואמר רבה בר חיננא סבא משמיה דרב כל העושה דבר עבירה ומתבייש בו מוחלין לו על כל עונותיו שנאמר למען תזכרי ובשת ולא יהיה לך עוד פתחון פה מפני כלמתך בכפרי לך לכל אשר עשית נאם ה′ אלהים

    And Raba bar Hinena the elder said in the name of Rab, “Everyone who commits a transgression [דבר עבירה] and is ashamed of it, [the debt of] all his sins [כל עונותיו] are forgiven him [מוחלין לו], as it is said, So that you will remember and be ashamed, and you will never again open your mouth because of your disgrace, when I atone for you and for all that you have done, says the Lord GOD [Ezek. 16:63].” (b. Ber. 12b)

  • [159] Text and translation according to Joseph H. Hertz, The Authorized Daily Prayer Book (2d ed.; New York: Bloch, 1975), 162-165. Some of the Avinu Malchenu (“Our Father, Our King”) petitions are attributed to Rabbi Akiva (cf. b. Taan. 25b), though not the specific petitions cited here. For a discussion of the origins of this prayer, see Simon Lauer, “‘Abhinu Malkenu: Our Father, Our King!’” in The Lord’s Prayer and Jewish Liturgy (ed. Jakob J. Petuchowski and Michael Brocke; New York: Seabury Press, 1978), 73-80.
  • [160] See Samuel Tobias Lachs, “On Matthew VI.12,” Novum Testamentum 17.1 (1975): 6-8; N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 294-295; Keener, 222-223; Nolland, Matt., 290; Richard A. Horsley, Covenant Economics: A Biblical Vision of Justice for All (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 155; Drake, “Did Jesus Oppose the prosbul in the Forgiveness Petition of the Lord’s Prayer?” 233-244.
  • [161] See Applebaum, “Economic Life in Palestine” (Safrai-Stern, 2:662); Goodman, “The First Jewish Revolt: Social Conflict and the Problem of Debt,” 421-423; Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, 31.
  • [162] Some NT manuscripts read ἀφίεμεν (in agreement with Did. 8:2) or ἀφείομεν (in agreement with Luke 11:4) at Matt. 6:12 instead of ἀφήκαμεν (cf. Metzger, 16), but these variant readings appear to be scribal attempts to harmonize Matthew with the other versions.
  • [163] See Marshall, 461.
  • [164] See Bovon, 2:91.
  • [165] See Nolland, Luke, 2:617.
  • [166] Examples of אַף אָנוּ occur in m. Git. 6:7; m. Avod. Zar. 4:7; t. Naz. 5:2 (2xx); Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Amalek chpt. 2 (ed. Lauterbach, 2:263); Sifre Deut. §56 (ed. Finkelstein, 123); and the baraita about King Yannai in b. Kid. 66a. On אַף + personal pronoun to create emphasis, see Segal, 198 §404.
  • [167] In a survey of Genesis through 2 Chronicles we found that ὡς is the translation of אֲשֶׁר in Gen. 40:13; Exod. 8:8; 12:27; Num. 33:1; Deut. 1:31; 7:19; 11:4; 26:19; 29:15; Judg. 9:17; 1 Kgdms. 13:8; 15:2; 16:7; 18:15; 20:42; 24:11, 19; 26:23; 28:9; 2 Kgdms. 7:23; 14:26; 3 Kgdms. 2:32; 3:13, 19; 8:38; 11:27; 15:5, 30, 34; 16:13, 19; 18:31; 19:1; 20:25; 4 Kgdms. 4:17; 8:5; 14:6; 21:4; 1 Chr. 17:21; 2 Chr. 1:12; 2:7; 6:30; 10:2; 25:4.
  • [168] On causal clauses introduced with אֲשֶׁר see BDB, 83 (definition 8c). On causal clauses introduced with -שֶׁ, see Segal, 227 §482. Examples of -שֶׁ in the sense of “because” include:

    אָמְרוּ לוֹ כְּדַיִי הָיִיתָה לָחוֹב בְּעַצְמָךְ שֶׁעָבַרְתָּה עַל דִּבְרֵי בֵית הֶילֵּל

    They said to him, “You were deserving of your own guilt because you transgressed [שֶׁעָבַרְתָּה] the words of the school of Hillel.” (m. Ber. 1:3)

    כֵּיצַד מְבָרְכִין עַל הַפֵּירוֹת עַל פֵּירוֹת הָאִילָן הוּא אוֹ′ בּוֹרֵא פְרִי הַעֵץ חוּץ מִן הַיַּיִן שֶׁעַל הַיַּיִן הוּא אוֹמֵ′ בּוֹרֵא פְרִי הַגֶּפֶן וְעַל פֵּירוֹת הָאָרֶץ הוּא אוֹ′ בּוֹרֵא פְרִי הָאֲדָמָה חוּץ מִן הַפַּת שֶׁעַל הַפַּת הוּא אוֹמֵ′ הַמּוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן הָאָרֶץ

    How do they bless over agricultural products? Over fruits from trees one says, “…who creates the fruit of trees,” except for wine because over wine [שֶׁעַל הַיַּיִן] he says, “…who creates the fruit of the vine.” And over fruits from the ground he says, “…who creates fruit of the ground,” except for a loaf of bread, because over a loaf [שֶׁעַל הַפַּת] he says, “…who brings forth bread from the earth.” (m. Ber. 6:1)

    הֵבִיאוּ לוֹ מָלִיחַ כַּתְּחִילָּה וּפַת עִמּוֹ מְבָרֵךְ עַל הַמַּלִיחַ וּפוֹטֵר אֶת הַפַּת שֶׁהַפַּת טְפֵילָה לוֹ

    If they brought him salted relish at first and a loaf with it, he blesses over the salted relish and he exempts the loaf, because the loaf [שֶׁהַפַּת] is secondary to it. (m. Ber. 6:7)

    הַמּוֹכֵר פֵּירוֹת בְּסוּרְיָיה וְאָמַר מִישֶּׁלְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵ′ הֵן חַיָּיב לְעַשֵּׂר מְעוּשָּׂרִּין הֵן נֶאֱמָן שֶׁהַפֶּה שֶׁאָסַר הוּא הַפֶּה שֶׁהִיתִּיר מִשֶּׁלִּי הֵן חַיָּיב לְּעַשֶּׂר מְעוּשָּׂרִין הֵן נֶאֱמָן שֶׁהַפֶּה שֶׁאָסַר הוּא הַפֶּה שֶׁהִיתִּיר

    The one selling produce in Syria who said, “These are from the land of Israel,” his produce must be tithed. [If he said,] “…but they are already tithed,” he is trusted because the mouth [שֶׁהַפֶּה] that bound is the mouth that released. [If he said,] “It is my own,” it must be tithed. [If he said,] “I have tithed it already,” he is trusted because the mouth [שֶׁהַפֶּה] that bound is the mouth that released. (m. Dem. 6:11)

    עכשיו קבלו עליכם שכל התחלות קשות

    Take it upon yourselves now, because all beginnings are difficult. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Baḥodesh chpt. 2 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:197])

  • [169] Excluding phrases such as -שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁ, examples of שֶׁאַף are found in m. Kid. 3:4; m. Hor. 1:5; m. Kel. 26:1; m. Toh. 1:6.
  • [170] See Plummer, Luke, 297.
  • [171] The framing of this rhetorical question in 1 Maccabees, with Abraham’s faithfulness in testing being linked to the verse “And he believed in [or, was faithful to] the LORD and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6), helps us understand why in James 2:21-24 Abraham’s offering of Isaac is linked to Gen. 15:6. The binding of Isaac was considered to be the ultimate trial of Abraham, and it was in this test that Abraham was found to be faithful. On Jewish traditions concerning Abraham’s faithfulness in the face of trials, see Joshua N. Tilton, “The Approval of Abraham: Traditions of God’s Acceptance of Abraham in Early Jewish and Christian Sources,” under the subheading “When He Was Tested, He Was Found Faithful.”
  • [172] A famous case of a first-century Jew who voluntarily apostatized from Judaism is that of Tiberius Julius Alexander, the nephew of Philo of Alexandria. He eventually became a Roman governor of Judea (46-48 C.E.; Jos., J.W. 2:220) and was Emperor Titus’ chief of staff during the war in Judea that led to the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. (Jos., J.W. 6:237). On Tiberius Julius Alexander, see Daniel R. Schwartz, “Philo, His Family, and His Times,” in The Cambridge Companion to Philo (ed. Adam Kamesar; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 9-31, esp. 13-14.
  • [173] In rabbinic sources the principle that the duty to save a life takes precedence over the other commandments is called piqūaḥ nefesh. For a further discussion of the principle of piqūaḥ nefesh, see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L13.
  • [174] The earliest example of a Hebrew translation of the Lord’s Prayer that renders καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν as וְאַל תְּבִיאֵנוּ לִידֵי נִסָּיוֹן dates from 1380 in a work entitled Even Boḥan by Shem Tov ben Isaac ben Shafrut. See Carmignac, “Hebrew Translations of the Lord’s Prayer,” 24. For a recent reconstruction of the Lord’s Prayer using the phrase לִידֵי נִסָּיוֹן, see Brad Young, “The Lord’s Prayer 10: A Hebrew Reconstruction.”
  • [175] See Carmignac, “Hebrew Translations of the Lord’s Prayer,” 67.
  • [176] This parallel to the Lord’s Prayer was noted by David Flusser. According to Flusser, “Our assertion that the phrase אל תביאני בקשות ממני is akin to ‘and lead us not into temptation’ [in the Lord’s Prayer—DNB and JNT] is borne out by 1 Cor 10, 13: ‘God is faithful and will never cause you temptation beyond what you can bear; but He will provide with the temptation also a way to overcome it so that you can bear it.’” See David Flusser, “Qumran and Jewish ‘Apotropaic’ Prayers” (Flusser, JOC, 214-225, quotation on 222).
  • [177] Cf. the following statement in the Mishnah:

    עֲשָׂרָה נִיסְיוֹנוֹת נִיתְנַסָּה אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ וְעָמַד בְּכּוּלָּם

    With ten trials Abraham our father was tested, and he stood [firm] in them all. (m. Avot 5:3)

  • [178] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1254-1255.
  • [179] In LXX the imperative ῥῦσαι is the translation of imperatival forms of הִצִּיל in Ps. 7:2; 21[22]:21; 24[25]:20; 30[31]:16; 38[39]:9; 50[51]:16; 58[59]:3; 78[79]:9; 118[119]:170; 119[120]:2; 141[142]:7; 143[144]:7; Prov. 24:11. In Ps. 70[71]:2, however, the imperative ῥῦσαί με is the translation of תַּצִּילֵנִי.
  • [180] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1186-1188.
  • [181] See Dos Santos, 194.
  • [182] See Randall Buth, “Deliver Us From Evil,” under the subheading “The Meaning of Ra‘ in Ancient Jewish Prayers.” Likewise, according to Joosten, “While in Hebrew the expression ha-ra, ‘the bad’, never refers to evil persons or spirits, in Aramaic the equivalent expression bisha, ‘the bad’, is used of both humans and Satan…. From the textual material at our disposal, it appears therefore that if the Lord’s Prayer was originally formulated in Hebrew, Jesus would have meant ‘deliver us from evil’; but if it was formulated in Aramaic, he would have meant ‘deliver us from the evil one’.” See Jan Joosten, “Aramaic or Hebrew Behind the Greek Gospels?” Analecta Bruxellensia 9 (2004): 92-93.
  • [183] Some manuscripts add τῶν αἰώνων to the doxology after εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, thus yielding “…for ever and ever.”
  • [184] On using Vaticanus as the base text of our reconstruction, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction,’” under the subheading “Codex Vaticanus or an Eclectic Text?”
  • [185] On the textual witnesses for and against the concluding doxology to the Lord’s Prayer, see Metzger, 16-17; Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament (trans. Erroll F. Rhodes; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 306-307.
  • [186] On the Didache’s version of the doxology, see Kurt Niederwimmer, The Didache: A Commentary (trans. Linda M. Maloney; Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998), 136-138.
  • [187] See above, under the subheading “Conjectured Stages of Transmission.”
  • [188] See above, Comment to L9.
  • [189] Cf. Bultmann, 132.
  • [190] The similarity of Mark 11:25 to Matt. 5:23-24 was also noted by Evans (Mark, 193).
  • [191] In LXX παράπτωμα occurs 19xx, 14xx in books included in MT (Ps. 18:13; 21:2; Job 35:15; 36:9; Zech. 9:5; Ezek. 3:20; 14:11, 13; 15:8; 18:22, 24, 26 [2xx]; 20:27) and 5xx in the Apocrypha (Wis. 3:13; 10:1; Pss. Sol. 3:7; 13:5, 10).
  • [192] See Tomson, “The Lord’s Prayer (Didache 8) at the Faultline of Judaism and Christianity,” 170. Cf. Taylor, 467.
  • [193] The adjective οὐράνιος (ouranios, “heavenly”) is un-Hebraic and indicative of a Greek writer’s hand. Οὐράνιος is found once in Luke (Luke 2:13), 0xx in Mark, and 7xx in Matthew (Matt. 5:48; 6:14, 26, 32; 15:13; 18:35; 23:9). In LXX οὐράνιος never occurs in books included in MT.
  • [194] See Segal, 230 §489; Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, Comment to L90.
  • [195] See, for example, Jeremias, Prayers, 89; Bundy, 344; Beare, 161.
  • [196] The notion that the author of Matthew Judaized the Lord’s Prayer is based on the assumption that Matthew’s Gospel was addressed to Jewish Christians and that the author of Matthew added Jewish elements to his Gospel for the sake of his intended audience.
  • [197] James H. Charlesworth, “A Caveat on Textual Transmission and the Meaning of Abba: A Study of the Lord’s Prayer,” in The Lord’s Prayer and Other Prayer Texts From the Greco-Roman Era (ed. James H. Charlesworth, Mark Harding, and Mark Kiley; Valley Forge, Pa.: Trinity, 1994), 1-5.
  • [198] David Flusser, “Two Anti-Jewish Montages in Matthew” (Flusser, JOC, 558).
  • [199] The following possessive pronouns are in the Hebrew position, i.e., following the noun: πάτερ ἡμῶν (“our Father”; L10); τὸ ὄνομά σου (“your name”; L12); ἡ βασιλεία σου (“your kingdom”; L13); τὸ θέλημά σου (“your will”; L14); τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν (“our bread”; L16); τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν (“our debts”; L19); τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν (“our debtors”; L21).
  • [200] It is, of course, possible that it was the author of Luke himself who made these radical changes to the Lord’s Prayer, and that he relied on Anth. throughout Luke 11:1-4. Such a high level of redaction to his source, however, is inconsistent with Luke’s usual editorial practice. Accordingly, we prefer to attribute the differences between the Lukan and Matthean versions of the Lords prayer to the editorial activity of FR.
  • [201] Davies-Allison, 1:593. It is disappointing to see that Luz (1:311), too, cited אַבָּא and חוֹבָא as arguments in favor of an Aramaic original for the Lord’s Prayer.
  • [202] See James Barr, “’Abbā Isn’t Daddy,” Journal of Theological Studies 39.1 (1988): 28-47, esp. 30-32. For examples of אַבָּא as a Hebrew word, see m. Eruv. 6:2; m. Betz. 2:6; m. Ket. 2:10; 12:3; 13:5; m. Ned. 5:6; 9:5; 11:4, 11; m. Git. 7:6; 9:2; m. Naz. 4:7; m. Kid. 3:6; m. Bab. Bat. 9:3; m. Sanh. 3:2; 4:5; m. Shevu. 6:1; 7:7; m. Edu. 3:10; 5:7; m. Zev. 9:3; m. Tam. 3:8; m. Yad. 3:1.
  • [203] For suggested Aramaic reconstructions of the Lord’s Prayer, see Jeremias, Theology, 196; Fitzmyer, 2:900.
  • [204] The one exception to this rule are the prayers that are included in literary works of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, such as the prayers in the additions to Esther (Greek), the prayers in Tobit (Aramaic?), and the prayer of Levi in 4Q213 (4QTLevia ar 1 I, 10ff; Aramaic). Regarding prayers such as these, Flusser wrote: “The majority are prayers put into the mouths of biblical persons who figure in these apocryphal works and it is clear that at least in their present form the primary purpose was not liturgical” (Flusser, “Psalms, Hymns and Prayers,” 551). Regarding the prayers in Tobit, fragments of Tobit in Hebrew and Aramaic were discovered in Qumran, and scholars continue to debate which of these two languages was the one in which Tobit was originally composed. Buth has recently made a case for a Hebrew original for Tobit. See Randall Buth, “Distinguishing Hebrew from Aramaic in Semitized Greek Texts, with an Application for the Gospels and Pseudepigrapha” (JS2, 247-319, esp. 291-295).
  • [205] See Shmuel Safrai, “Oral Torah,” in The Literature of the Sages (ed. Shmuel Safrai; CRINT II.3; 2 vols.; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987), 1:35-119, esp. 85; idem, “Literary Languages in the Time of Jesus,” under the subheading “Prayers.”
  • [206] See Dalman, 10; Luz, 1:311.
  • [207] See Jakob J. Petuchowski and Michael Brocke, eds., The Lord’s Prayer and Jewish Liturgy (New York: Seabury Press, 1978), 59-61; Fitzmyer, 2:901; Shmuel Safrai, “Literary Languages in the Time of Jesus,” note 11. There may be indications of an earlier Hebrew version of the kaddish. According to Sifre on Deuteronomy, Rabbi Yose asks:

    מנין לעומדים בבית הכנסת ואומרים ברכו את ה′ המבורך שעונים אחריהם ברוך ה′ המבורך לעולם ועד

    Whence do we learn that when those who lead in the synagogue call out, “Bless ye the Lord, who is blessed,” the congregation must respond, “Blessed is the Lord, who is to be blessed, for ever and ever”? (Sifre Deut. §306 [ed. Finkelstein, 342]; trans. Hammer)

    This is similar to the congregational response in the Aramaic kaddish. Even closer to the kaddish is the following Hebrew prayer, which is repeated at various points in Seder Eliyahu Rabba:

    אבי שבשמים יהי שמך הגדול מבורך לעולם ולעולמי עולמים ותהא לך קורת רוח מישראל עבדיך

    My Father who is in the heavens, may your great name be blessed forever and ever, and may you have satisfaction from Israel your servants. (Eliyahu Rabba 11:2 [ed. Friedmann, 53])

  • [208] Of course, some have favored an Aramaic background to all of Jesus’ teachings, including the Lord’s Prayer, precisely because this distances Jesus from his Jewish contemporaries. Jeremias, for example, attached great importance to the supposed fact that the Lord’s Prayer was composed in Aramaic, since this “removes prayer from the liturgical sphere of sacred language and places it right in the midst of everyday life” (Prayers, 76). On the portrayal of Jesus’ use of Aramaic as a rejection of established Judaism, see Guido Baltes, “The Origins of the ‘Exclusive Aramaic Model’ in the Ninteenth Century: Methodological Fallacies and Subtle Motives” (JS2, 9-34, esp. 25-29).
  • [209] We are puzzled, therefore, by Luz’s discussion of the original language of the Lord’s Prayer, in which he states: “We assume that the original language is Aramaic. Some have suggested that the original language was Hebrew. However, there is no indication that this was the case except for the indisputable fact that most of the prayers in contemporary Judaism that we still have were written in Hebrew” (Luz, 1:311).
  • [210] The following private prayers are recorded in y. Ber. 4:2 [33a] and b. Ber. 16b-17a:

    בכניסתו מהו אומר יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהי ואלהי אבותי שלא אקפיד כנגד חבירי ולא חבירי יקפידו כנגדי שלא נטמא את הטהור ולא נטהר את הטמא שלא נאסור את המותר ולא נתיר את האסור ונמצאתי מתבייש לעולם הזה ולעולם הבא וביציאתו מהו אומר מודה אני לפניך ה′ אלהי ואלהי אבותי שנתת חלקי מיושבי בית המדרש ובתי כנסיות ולא נתת חלקי בבתי תרטיות ובבתי קרקסיות שאני עמל והן עמלים אני שוקד והן שוקדים אני עמל לירש גן עדן והן עמלים לבאר שחת שנאמר כי לא תעזוב נפשי לשאול לא תתן חסידך לראות שחת

    When [Rabbi Nehonyah ben ha-Kanah] enters [the house of study] what does he say? “May it be your will, O Lord my God and God of my fathers, that I not be angry with my companions and that my companions not be angry with me, that we will not declare impure what is pure nor declare pure what is impure, that we will not forbid what is permitted, nor permit what is forbidden, and thus be found ashamed in this world and in the world to come.” And on his going out, what does he say? “I am giving thanks before you, O Lord my God and God of my fathers, that you have set my portion among those who sit in the house of study and synagogues, and that you have not set my portion in the theatre houses or in the circus arenas, for I toil and they toil, I rise early and they rise early. I toil to inherit the Garden of Eden, but they toil for the pit of destruction, as it is said, For you will not abandon me to Sheol or let your faithful one see the Pit [Ps. 16:10].” (y. Ber. 4:2 [33a])

    ר″א היה מתפלל שלש תפילות לאחר תפילתו מהו אומר יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהי ואלהי אבותי שלא תעלה שנאתינו על לב אדם ולא שנאת אדם תעלה על לבינו ולא תעלה קנאתינו על לב אדם ולא קנאת אדם תעלה על לבינו ותהא תורתך מלאכתנו כל ימי חיינו ויהיו דברינו תחנונים לפניך

    Rabbi Eleazar would pray three prayers after reciting the Prayer [i.e., the Amidah—DNB and JNT]. What would he say? “May it be your will, O Lord my God and God of my fathers, that hatred of us may not arise in the heart of anyone, and that hatred for anyone may not arise in our hearts, and may jealousy of us not arise in the heart of anyone, nor jealousy of anyone arise in our hearts, and may your Torah be our vocation all the days of our lives and may our words be supplications before you.” (y. Ber. 4:2 [33a])

    ר′ חייא בר אבא מוסיף ותייחד לבבינו ליראה את שמך ותרחקנו מכל מה ששנאת ותקרבנו לכל מה שאהבת ותעשה עמנו צדקה למען שמך

    Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba adds [at the conclusion of his prayer], “And unite our hearts in the fear of your name and distance us from all that you hate and bring us near to all that you love and act mercifully toward us for the sake of your name.” (y. Ber. 4:2 [33a])

    דבית ר′ ינאי אמרין הנוער משנתו צריך לומר ברוך אתה ה′ מחיה המתים רבוני חטאתי לך יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהי שתתן לי לב טוב חלק טוב יצר טוב חבר טוב שם טוב עין טובה ונפש טוב ונפש שפלה ורוח נמוכה אל יתחלל שמך בנו ואל תעשינו שיחה בפי כל הבריות ואל תהי אחריתינו להכרית ולא תקוותנו למפח נפש ואל תצריכנו לידי מתנת בשר ודם ואל תמסור מזונותינו בידי בשר ודם שמתנתם מעוטה וחרפתם מרובה ותן חלקנו בתורתך עם עושי רצונך בנה ביתך היכלך עירך ומקדשך במהרה בימינו

    Those of the house of Rabbi Yannai say, “The one waking up from sleep should say, ‘Blessed are you, O Lord, who makes the dead live. My master, I have sinned against you. May it be your will, O Lord my God, that you will give me a good heart, a good portion, a good inclination, a good companion, a good name, a good eye [i.e., a generous nature—DNB and JNT], a good soul, and a humble soul, and a lowly spirit. Do not let your name be profaned through us, and do not make us the subject of gossip among all your creatures, and do not let our end be for destruction, and do not let our hope end in disappointment, and do not let us be dependent on the benevolence of flesh and blood, and do not give our livelihood into the hands of flesh and blood, for their benevolence is limited and their intolerance is great. And set our portion in your Torah with those who do your will. Build your house, your temple, your city, and your sanctuary quickly and in our days.’” (y. Ber. 4:2 [33a])

    רבי חייא בר ווא מצלי יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהינו ואלהי אבותינו שתתן בלבינו לעשות תשובה שלימה לפניך שלא נבוש מאבותינו לעולם הבא

    Rabbi Hiyya bar Vava prayed, “May it be your will, O Lord our God and the God of our fathers, that you will set our hearts to do complete repentance before you so that we will not be ashamed before our fathers in the world to come.” (y. Ber. 4:2 [33a])

    ר′ תנחום בר איסבלוסטיקא מצלי ויהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהי ואלהי אבותי שתשבור ותשבית עולו של יצר הרע מלבינו שכך בראתנו לעשות רצונך ואנו חייבים לעשות רצונך את חפץ ואנו חפצים ומי מעכב שאור שבעיסה גלוי וידוע לפניך שאין בנו כח לעמוד בו אלא יר″מ ה′ אלהי ואלהי אבותי שתשביתהו מעלינו ותכניעהו ונעשה רצונך כרצוננו בלבב שלם

    Rabbi Tanhum bar Isbalostika prayed, “And may it be your will, O Lord my God and God of my fathers, that you will break the yoke of the evil inclination and cause it to cease from our hearts, for you created us to do your will and we are obligated to do your will. You desire it and we desire it and who prevents it? The yeast in the dough. It is revealed and known before you that we have not the strength to stand against it, but let it be your will, O Lord my God and God of my fathers that you will cause it to cease from us and that you will subdue it so that we may do your will as our own will with a whole heart.” (y. Ber. 4:2 [33a])

    ר′ יוחנן הוה מצלי יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהי ואלהי אבותי שתשכן בפוריינו אהבה ואחוה שלום וריעות ותצליח סופינו אחרית ותקוה ותרבה גבולנו בתלמידים ונשיש בחלקינו בג″ע ותקנינו לב טוב וחבר טוב ונשכים ונמצא ייחול לבבינו ותבא לפניך קורת נפשינו לטובה

    Rabbi Yohanan would pray, “May it be your will, O Lord my God and God of my fathers, that you will cause love and brotherhood, peace and neighborliness to dwell in our lot, and make our final end and hope succeed, and increase our borders with disciples, and may we rejoice in our portion in the Garden of Eden, and confirm us with a good heart and good friend and possessions and may we find the desire of our hearts and may [our petition for] the satisfaction of our souls come before you for your approval.” (y. Ber. 4:2 [33a])

    אמר רבי אבון לאל שחלק לי דיעה ומעשה טוב

    Rabbi Abun said, “[I give thanks] to God who apportioned to me understanding and good deeds.” (y. Ber. 4:2 [33a])

    רבי אלעזר בתר דמסיים צלותיה אמר הכי יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהינו שתשכן בפורינו אהבה ואחוה ושלום וריעות ותרבה גבולנו בתלמידים ותצליח סופנו אחרית ותקוה ותשים חלקנו בגן עדן ותקננו בחבר טוב ויצר טוב בעולמך ונשכים ונמצא יחול לבבנו ליראה את שמך ותבא לפניך קורת נפשנו לטובה

    Rabbi Eleazar upon concluding his prayer said as follows, “May it be your will, O Lord our God, that you would cause love and brotherhood, peace and neighborliness to dwell in our lot, and increase our borders with disciples and make our final end and hope succeed, and set our portion in the Garden of Eden, and confirm us with a good companion and a good inclination in your world, and may we rise early and find what our heart longs for: to fear your name, and may [our petition for] the satisfaction of our souls come before you for your approval.” (b. Ber. 16b)

    רבי יוחנן בתר דמסיים צלותיה אמר הכי יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהינו שתציץ בבשתנו ותביט ברעתנו ותתלבש ברחמיך ותתכסה בעזך ותתעטף בחסידותך ותתאזר בחנינותך ותבא לפניך מדת טובך וענותנותך

    Rabbi Yohanan on concluding his prayer said as follows, “May it be your will, O Lord our God, that you will look on our shame, and see our evil condition, and clothe yourself in your compassion, and cover yourself in your strength, and wrap yourself in your lovingkindness, and gird yourself with your graciousness, and let the attribute of your goodness and gentleness come before you.” (b. Ber. 16b)

    רבי זירא בתר דמסיים צלותיה אמר הכי יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהינו שלא נחטא ולא נבוש ולא נכלם מאבותינו

    Rabbi Zera on concluding his prayer said as follows, “May it be your will, O Lord our God, that we not sin or shame or disgrace ourselves before our fathers.” (b. Ber. 16b)

    רבי חייא בתר דמצלי אמר הכי יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהינו שתהא תורתך אומנותנו ואל ידוה לבנו ואל יחשכו עינינו

    Rabbi Hiyya on concluding his prayer said as follows, “May it be your will, O Lord our God, that your Torah will be our occupation, and do not let our heart be faint and do not let our eyes be darkened.” (b. Ber. 16b)

    רב בתר צלותיה אמר הכי יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהינו שתתן לנו חיים ארוכים חיים של שלום חיים של טובה חיים של ברכה חיים של פרנסה חיים של חלוץ עצמות חיים שיש בהם יראת חטא חיים שאין בהם בושה וכלימה חיים של עושר וכבוד חיים שתהא בנו אהבת תורה ויראת שמים חיים שתמלא לנו את כל משאלות לבנו לטובה

    Rav on concluding his prayer said as follows, “May it be your will, O Lord our God, that you will give us long life, a life of peace, a life of goodness, a life of blessing, a life that is provided for, a life of bodily vigor, a life that has in it the fear of sin, a life that has no shame or disgrace in it, a life of riches and honor, a life in which the love of Torah and the fear of Heaven will be in us, a life in which you will fulfill all the desires of our heart for good.” (b. Ber. 16b)

    רבי בתר צלותיה אמר הכי יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהינו ואלהי אבותינו שתצילנו מעזי פנים ומעזות פנים מאדם רע ומפגע רע מיצר רע מחבר רע משכן רע ומשטן המשחית ומדין קשה ומבעל דין קשה בין שהוא בן ברית בין שאינו בן ברית

    Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] on concluding his prayer said as follows, “May it be your will, O Lord our God and God of our fathers, that you might deliver us from an impudent person and from impudence, from a bad person, from bad affliction, from the evil inclination, and from the destroying satan, from a difficult judgment and from a difficult opponent in the court, whether he is a son of the covenant or not a son of the covenant.” (b. Ber. 16b)

    רב ספרא בתר צלותיה אמר הכי יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהינו שתשים שלום בפמליא של מעלה ובפמליא של מטה, ובין התלמידים העוסקים בתורתך בין עוסקין לשמה בין עוסקין שלא לשמה וכל העוסקין שלא לשמה יהי רצון שיהו עוסקין לשמה

    Rav Safra on concluding his prayer said as follows, “May it be your will, O Lord our God, that you will establish peace in the family that is above, and in the family that is below, and among the disciples who occupy themselves in your Torah, whether they are occupied with it for its own sake or whether they are not occupied with it for its own sake. But all who are not occupied with it for its own sake, may it be your will that they will come to occupy themselves with it for its own sake.” (b. Ber. 16b-17a)

    רבי אלכסנדרי בתר צלותיה אמר הכי יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהינו שתעמידנו בקרן אורה ואל תעמידנו בקרן חשכה ואל ידוה לבנו ואל יחשכו עינינו

    Rabbi Alechsandri on concluding his prayer said as follows, “May it be your will, O Lord our God, that you will make us stand in a lighted corner, but do not make us stand in a darkened corner, and do not let our heart be faint and do not let our eyes be darkened.” (b. Ber. 17a)

    רבא בתר צלותיה אמר הכי אלהי עד שלא נוצרתי איני כדאי ועכשיו שנוצרתי כאלו לא נוצרתי עפר אני בחיי קל וחומר במיתתי הרי אני לפניך ככלי מלא בושה וכלימה יהי רצון מלפניך ה′ אלהי שלא אחטא עוד ומה שחטאתי לפניך מרק ברחמיך הרבים אבל לא על ידי יסורין וחלאים רעים

    Raba on concluding his prayer said as follows, “My God, before I was formed I was not fit [to be formed], and now that I have been formed it is as if I had not been formed. I am dust while I am alive, and how much more so in my death. Behold, I am before you like a vessel full of shame and disgrace. May it be your will, O Lord my God, that I not sin again, and blot out what sins I have committed against you in the past in your great compassion, but not by means of suffering and severe illness.” (b. Ber. 17a)

    מר בריה דרבינא כי הוה מסיים צלותיה אמר הכי אלהי נצור לשוני מרע ושפתותי מדבר מרמה ולמקללי נפשי תדום ונפשי כעפר לכל תהיה פתח לבי בתורתך ובמצותיך תרדוף נפשי ותצילני מפגע רע מיצר הרע ומאשה רעה ומכל רעות המתרגשות לבא בעולם וכל החושבים עלי רעה מהרה הפר עצתם וקלקל מחשבותם יהיו לרצון אמרי פי והגיון לבי לפניך ה′ צורי וגואלי

    Mar the son of Rabina on concluding his prayer said as follows, “My God, preserve my tongue from evil and my lips from deceitful words. Toward those who curse me let my soul be silent, and let my soul be like dust to everyone. Open my heart with your Torah, and with your commandments pursue my soul, and rescue me from evil things, and from the evil inclination, and from an evil woman, and from all evils that threaten to come upon the world. And all those who plot evil against me, quickly cancel their plans and frustrate their schemes. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer!” (b. Ber. 17a)

    For further examples of Jewish private prayers, see Joseph Heinemann, Prayer in the Talmud: Forms and Patterns, 188-189.

  • [211] Heinemann, “The Background of Jesus’ Prayer,” 81-89, esp. 88. Weinfeld also concluded that the Lord’s Prayer belongs to the category of private prayer. See Moshe Weinfeld, “The Biblical Origins of the Amidah Prayer for Sabbath and Holy Days,” in his Normative and Sectarian Judaism in the Second Temple Period (London: T&T Clark, 2005), 137-156, esp. 153-156.
  • [212] Kittel, “ἀββᾶ,” TDNT, 1:6. On Kittel’s anti-Semitic worldview, see Robert P. Ericksen, “Genocide, Religion, and Gerhard Kittel,” in In God’s Name: Genocide and Religion in the Twentieth Century (ed. Omer Bartov and Phyllis Mack; New York: Berghahn, 2001), 62-78.
  • [213] Ibid. In this quotation Kittel used the word “familiar” in the sense of “informal”; he did not mean to imply that addressing God as “Abba” was commonplace.
  • [214] Jeremias, Prayers, 97; cf. idem, Theology, 67: “It would have seemed disrespectful, indeed unthinkable, to the sensibilites of Jesus’ contemporaries to address God with this familiar word.”
  • [215] On the prayer of Joseph in this text, see Eileen M. Schuller, “The Psalm of 4Q372 1 within the Context of Second Temple Prayer,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 54 (1992): 67-79.
  • [216] Jeremias, Prayers, 29; cf. idem, Theology, 64.
  • [217] That Jeremias was aware that his entire argument hinged on the form “Abba” is clear from his statement that “We do not have a single example of God being addressed as ’Abbā in Judaism, but Jesus always addressed God in this way in his prayers” (Theology, 66; emphasis original).
  • [218] Although Jeremias (Theology, 65) cited the liturgical use of αββα ὁ πατήρ in Rom. 8:15 and Gal. 4:6 as evidence that Jesus himself addressed God as “Abba,” reasoning that “The unusual character of this form of address…shows that it is an echo of the prayer of Jesus,” in neither epistle does Paul attribute this practice to Jesus. According to Jeremias, the “use of an alien Aramaic word in the prayer of the Greek-speaking communities” is “quite striking” and must, therefore, go “back to the example of Jesus” (Prayers, 55). But a few pages later Jeremias demonstrates that “Abba” was not an alien term to many Greek speakers in the east, since several of the church fathers born in well-to-do families “probably growing up under the supervision of Syrian nurses and nurserymaids, report from their own experience that small children used to call their fathers abba” (Prayers, 59-60). In other words, in the east where Greek and Aramaic were both widely spoken, even in Greek-speaking families children called their fathers “Abba.” See Barr, “’Abbā Isn’t Daddy,” 36. If this was the case, then it is unnecessary to appeal to the example of Jesus to explain the use of “Abba” in Greek-speaking congregations.
  • [219] As Paula Fredriksen wrote, “some scholars have wanted to see in Jesus’ particular use of abba—less formal, more intimate and affectionate than the Hebrew ab—an indication of Jesus’ personal consciousness of his uniquely close relationship with and to God. This interpretation asks abba to bear the burden of later theological developments, which made particular claims about Jesus’ unique metaphysical nature as divine Son.” Paula Fredriksen, From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 140. Cf. Betz, 374.
  • [220] See Geza Vermes, Jesus the Jew: A Historian’s Reading of the Gospels (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), 210-211; Shmuel Safrai, “Jesus and the Hasidim,” under the subheading “Father-Son Relationship.”

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