Re: 3rd-person imperatives in the Lord's Prayer

From: Jack Kilmon (
Date: Fri Aug 15 1997 - 06:23:03 EDT

Jonathan Robie wrote:

> At 08:47 PM 8/13/97 -0500, Jeffrey Gibson wrote:
> >Carl,
> >
> >Just a quick response to your question on why the first three
> petitions
> >of the LP are formulated in 3rd person aorist imperatives. As BDF
> note
> >(sec. 337 n. 4) this is simply stardard Greek practice in prayers
> (and in
> >liturgies), particularly those with specific petitions. It does not
> >necessarily reflect any special feature of a presumed Aramiac
> >original, whatever that may have been.

    It would have been the Galilean dialect of Middle Aramaic,
somewhatcloser to Eastern than the Western of Judea.

> 4. I notice that Jesus uses the same form when he heals people or
> performs
> miracles, e.g. Matt 8:13 hWS EPISTEUSAS GENHQHTW SOI, see also Matt
> 9:29,

    "Jesus uses the same form?" Shouldn't that be the Matthean Scribe
uses the same form?

> Overall, at least for GENHQHTW, the meaning seems to be "let your will
> be
> done" or "may your will be done", but I wonder how significant it is
> that
> Jesus used this form to perform healings - is this a real command,
> with the
> authority of God backing it up? Should we interpret Matt 8:13 hWS
> GENHQHTW SOI as a short prayer?

    Again "Jesus used this form." Are you suggesting that Jesus spoke
andtaught to the Jewish Am ha-Aretz in the Greek of the Matthean Scribe
as his primary language?

Luke starts the Lord‚s Prayer simply with „Fatherš (Abba) and records a
very short version of five petitions while Matthew expands „Fatherš with
„ourš (Abbun) and „who is in Heaven.š This follows the Matthean
tradition/redaction style of Jewish liturgy seen elsewhere throughout
the Gospel. The phrase „Thy will be doneš is only in Matthew‚s version
and is used by the author to expand „Thy kingdom comeš by telling when
the kingdom will come (when God‚s will is done). The „breadš petition
more clearly reflects the differences in the two traditions. Where
Matthew says DOJ HMIN SHMERON in the Aorist „Give us bread todayš (the
imminent coming), Luke uses the present imperative DIDOU HMIN TO KAQ
)HMERAN „keep giving us todayš (because it‚s going to be a while).
„Breadš in first century Palestine meant the same as it does today in
the Middle East, food. It was also an idiom for „teaching.š
 Matthew‚s version asks God to „forgive us our debtsš (OFEILHMATA) „as
we forgive our debtorsš (OFEILETAIJ), using the debts/debtors metaphor
for sins/sinners, which was familiar to Jews. This idiom, however, is
an Aramaic one and not inherent to the Greek. In Aramaic it is <aram>
w$bowq ln xwbyn
)ykn) d)f xnn $bqn lxybyn (voshVOK lan hoBIN ahKENo dup leNIN shevKON
l'hoBIN) and it was the hobin/l'hobin idiom that the Matthean scribe

     Luke, writing for Gentiles who were not familiar with the Jewish
double meaning for debts replaces „debtsš with „sinsš (AMARTIAJ) in the
first half and retain „debtorsš (OFEILONTI) in its participial form in
the second half.

    This substitution by Luke is significant for two reasons. First, it
tells us that Luke was competent in Aramaic since he understood the
„Hobin idiom.š Second, it is a testimony by Luke that the Lord‚s Prayer
was originally rendered in Jesus‚ own Aramaic language.

Jack Kilmon

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