In this article, Professor Huub van de Sandt introduces readers to the fascinating treatise called the Didache, and discusses how this early Christian document, which was based on an earlier Jewish source, helps us understand the Gospel of Matthew.
A “Hebraism” is a typical feature of the Hebrew language found in another language. The majority of today’s New Testament authorities assume that Aramaic is behind the Semitisms of the New Testament, and that Jesus spoke Aramaic as his primary language. So much so, in fact, that the student who checks standard reference works is informed that the Greek words for “Hebrew” and for “in the Hebrew language” (not only in the New Testament, but in Josephus and other texts) refer to the Aramaic language.
Jesus’ teaching on judging is one of his most frequently misunderstood sayings, sounding as if he is saying, “Have no discernment. Just ignore sin!” Often we struggle to find a way to sort out sin without actually calling it that so that we do not judge. While Jesus’ ethical demands are high, we often give up trying to follow them if they do not make sense to us.
As I lay in a hospital bed at Hebrew University’s Hadassah-Ein Kerem Medical Center, it was obvious to me that my body was completely out of control. My heart had been beating erratically for over 100 hours, and the only hope for restoring my heart to normal rhythm was cardioversion (electric shock therapy).
Dr. Horst Krüger, Jerusalem Perspective’s representative in Germany, has suggested to me that Genesis 48:16 may be part of the background to a phrase found in the Lord’s Prayer. I believe that Dr. Krüger has made an important discovery.
At the end of Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer we read, “But deliver us from evil” in the King James Version and Revised Standard Version. A number of more recent English translations differ. The Good News Bible, New Century Bible, New International Version, New Jerusalem Bible and New Revised Standard Version all render Matthew 6:13b as keep us, save us, rescue us, or deliver us “from the evil one.” The difference is significant, and invites our curiosity.
The deceptively simple petition from Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread,” has been a matter of controversy for centuries. The unusual Greek word epiousion, which is translated “daily,” is the root of the controversy. Some scholars have suggested that the original phrase contained the similar-sounding Greek word epeimi, (the next), and so meant “bread for the next day.” Nevertheless, the Latin translation of the New Testament understood the word as meaning bread needed for sustenance.
We noted in a previous article that “Thy will be done” parallels “Thy Kingdom come.” Both phrases mean, “May you continue establishing your Kingship.” Jesus does not instruct his disciples to pray “if it is your will.” It is within God’s purpose that all men should repent and become a part of God’s reign. “May your will be accomplished” is a strong affirmative appeal.
Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer does not contain the expression she·ba·sha·MA·yim (who is in heaven), but simply records “father.” Luke’s gospel never refers to God as the “father who is in heaven.” Matthew, in contrast, preserved twelve sayings of Jesus in which he used the Jewish expressions “our father who is in heaven,” “your father who is in heaven,” and “my father who is in heaven.” Mark also used the idiom “your father who is in heaven” (Mk. 11:25).