3rd-person imperatives in the Lord's Prayer

From: Jeffrey Gibson (jgibson@acfsysv.roosevelt.edu)
Date: Sun Aug 17 1997 - 21:59:34 EDT

> On Thu 14 Aug 97 (19:05:32), jgibson@acfsysv.roosevelt.edu wrote:
> > I'm a little uneasy with this, not only because it doesn't deal strictly
> > with the question of why the petitions are in the imperative, but
> > because it seems to assume that the "deliver us from evil" clause is
> > original to the LP. Would you reach the same conclusion, Ben, from the
> > Lukan form of the prayer, which has a far better case for its being
> > closer to the original wording of the LP? And are you sure that your
> > theology of the Evil One, while perhaps Matthew's, was that of Jesus?
> Jeffrey: thank you for pointing up the differences between the Matthean and
> Lukan LP. ISTM that Matthew/Levi was an eyewitness and an earwitness of the
> Lord Jesus Christ; whereas Luke on his own admission was retelling hearsay.
> Papias assures us "Every man translated Matthew's vernacular as best he
> could". Jesus called Levi/Matthew who was a tax collector, a /Mokhes/ or a
> /douanier/ (Edersheim, /Life and Times.../, vol 1 pp 513ff) to "follow me".
> As a trained Mokhes, Matthew made vernacular shorthand notes which he then
> translated and wrote up in Greek to send up to Rome with his tax remittances.
> As a disciple MAQHTHS TOU QEOU, he kept up his note-taking and recorded the
> Sayings LOGIA of Jesus (Papias).
> There is now a reaction against the theories of Tübingen, Form criticism,
> Redaction criticism, Q, Midrash, Hermeneutic, Structuralism. CA Blomberg says
> in R Keeley et al (eds), /Jesus 2,000/, 1989, that for the last 20 years,
> scholars have been taking seriously what Papias wrote whilst John was still
> alive. BC Butler /The Originality of St Matthew/, 1951, led the charge. Maybe
> Butler was a little too subservient to the 1911 Papal Commission's dictat
> "The Apostle Matthew was the first to write a Gospel. This Aramaic Gospel
> is substantially identical with the canonical Greek Gospel". JAT Robinson,
> /Redating the New Testament/, 1976, is on much firmer ground than Butler.
> Butler was probably reacting against GD Kilpatrick, /The Origins of the
> Gospel according to St Matthew/, 1946. Most recently, John Wenham /Redating
> Matthew Mark & Luke/, 1991, reviews all the right evidence and draws all the
> right conclusions (IMHO at least!).
> Jesus gave the LP to his disciples early in his ministry in the Sermon on the
> Mount as an example of prayer. Much later, in the third year of Christ's
> ministry, they wanted a prayer to repeat in 'John the Baptist' style (Luke
> 11:2-4). They had forgotten the teaching of two years earlier! But Matthew
> had it all faithfully recorded. Matthew's LP has two neat triplets of
> petitions; Luke's is much shortened and simplified. If there is a later
> liturgical element in Matthew's version, it is the added doxology "For thine
> is the kingdom...".
> The theology of the "Evil One" arises from the Temptation, PEIRASQHNAI hUPO
> TOU DIABOLOU (Matthew 4:1), PEIRAZOMENO hUPO TOU DIABOLOU (Luke 4:2), right
> at the beginning of Christ's ministry. We had a long (very interesting) recent
> thread on PEIRAZW: let's not go into that again! We mustn't forget "Simon,
> Simon, Satan hath desired to have you [hUMAS], that he may sift you as wheat"
> (Luke 22:31).
> We cannot exclude the eschatological dimension from the LP. We are praying
> for nothing less than the return of Christ to reign upon earth.

If I understand your last posting on the Lord's Prayer correctly,
you want to make (at least) three claims.

The first is that *both* the Matthean *and* the Lukan versions of
the Lord's prayer go back to Jesus himself, and are accurate
records of what Jesus taught, albeit at different times of his

The second is that your interpretation of what the "lead us not
into PEIRASMOS" clause means (= "do not allow us to be
tempted/tested"), an interpretation which is grounded in an
understanding of "but deliver us from TOU PONHROU" that assumes
PONHROU means "the Evil One" (= Satan or the Devil) and that the
whole clause means "deliver us from the temptation/testing Satan
brings to believers", is supported by the theology of who or what
the Evil One is said to be/do as this is set out in the Wilderness
temptation narrative (Matt. 4:1-11//Lk. 4:1-13).

The third is that what the disciples were actually instructed to
pray for when they were given the LP was "nothing less than the
return of Christ to reign on earth".

Now what you want to argue for in your first claim may very well be
the case, but not, I think, for the reasons you offer. But I fail
to see that the Papias tradition regarding the origin of Matthew's
with the sense of "Matthew for his part in the Hebrew/Aramaic
language compiled/collected the oracles/Gospel [and]everyone
translated them as best he could" instead of "consequently [as a
deliberate corrective to Mark's `disorderly' account] Matthew
collected the oracles/sayings in a Semitic style [and] evetyone
interpreted them as best he could" -- says anything with respect to
the *verbal accuracy* of what appears in Greek Matthew, let alone
even guarentees that the LP was part of the tradition that we now
know as the Gospel of Matthew. Indeed, to appeal to Papias to
guarentee that Matthew's version of the LP is authentic undercuts
your claim that the Lucan version is too. If what Papias really
says is that Matthew placed *everything* in it's proper order
(compared to what? Mark?), as you seem to want to claim, then his
ommission of the second (the Lukan) version of the LP indicates
that Jesus *did not* give a second version of the prayer later in
his ministry.

I also fail to see how Matthean priority settles the question of
whether or not the Matthean version of the LP contains Matthean
additions, let alone how MP stands as any kind of evidence that the
Matthean version does not. Even such staunch defendeds of Matthean
Priority like Butler and Wenham recognize that Matthew redacted his
tradition, and that not all (or for that matter *anything*) that
appears in his Gospel is reproduced exactly as it happened or as it
was originally spoken. In implying that Matthean Priority means
that Matthew's Gospel is "historically" accurate, you engage in the
same sort of fallacious reasoning that you implicilty accuse those
early advocates of Markan priority as having engaged in (i.e.,
"early" guarantees historicity).

When I turn to your defense of the authenticity of the Lukan
version of the LP, I am struck by several oddities. If, as you
claim, Jesus gave this prayer a second time because the disciples
forgot it, why is this not recorded by Luke as the occasion of its
alleged repitition? The Gospel authors are not afraid to cast the
disciples in a less than flattering light, nor do they refrain from
noting the occasions when the disciples did forget things. More
importantly, if, as you claim, in giving the prayer a second time,
it was Jesus' intention to remind the disciples of both how and
what they had been previously instructed to pray, why then would
Jesus give a *different* version of the prayer instead of repeating
all that he had previously said?

Now, as to your claim regarding the theology behind the Matthean
"deliver us" clause. Let's assume that you are correct in seeing
TOU PONHROU as meaning "the Evil One" rather than simply "Evil",
and that what we have here is a plea to be delivered from the Devil
and his wiles. And let's also assume (correctly, I think) that if
we want to know what the wiles of the Devil are, and therefore what
being "delivered from the Devil" involves, we should, as you claim,
turn to the wilderness temptation story, where the themes of
PEIRASMOS and hO DIABOLOS are conjoined. I fail to see that leads
to the conclusion that what is being prayed for in the "deliver us"
clause is personal delivereance from being tested/tempted. Indeed,
if anything, it lends itself to the view that the object of the
ALLA hRUSAI hHMAS APO TOU PONHROU clause is to be protected from
putting God to the test. For, as is shown by such texts as TB
Sanhedrin 89b (which I take to contain tradition dating from the
first century C.E.), Apoc. Abraham 13 (cf. esp. vs. 9-13), the
Testament of Job (especially in Chapters 24-27), Mk 8:27-33, Lk
4:1-12, Jn. 8.44, 2 Cor. 11.14), in Matthew's time the Devil was
know as one whose main activity was trying to get the pious to
break their faithfulness to God, and turn aside from obeying him,
by bringing them to doubt and then accept that what God has
commanded them to do (or put their trust in) is not really `of God,
thus involving the believer in putting God to the test. Indeed,
this is the very thing that Matthew has the Devil do when in his
[Matthew'] stories of Jesus confrontations with the Evil One at
Matt. 4:1-11 and Matt 16:13-23, the Devil attempts to sway Jesus
from what Jesus holds to be his covenantal obligations to God!
Note particulary Jesus' summation in Matt. 4:7//Lk. 4:12 of what
it is the Devil is actually trying to get him to do, what it is
Jesus feels he needs to be delivered from when he is attacked by
the Devil!
     So it seems to me, then, that if we take the tempation
narrative (and Matthew's story of Caesarea Philippi) as our guide,
as you think we should, for determining the meaning of ALLA hRUSAI
hHMAS APO TOU PONHROU, what we are really driven to conclude about
what is being asked for in the petition to be "delivered from the
Devil" is that it is *not* to be kept from being "tempted/tested".
Rather it is to be protected against or removed from any
inclination to, or actual engagement in, subjecting God to

Finally, with regard to your claim that "[when we pray the LP] We
are praying for nothing less that the return of Christ to reign
upon earth". Now that may very well be what *you* and many other
Christians pray for when the utter the LP nowadays. But if this is
what Jesus thought (or what Matthew and Luke thought Jesus thought)
he was telling his disciples to pray for, should we not expect then
the wording of the prayer to be ELQETW hH BASILEIA MOU and not as
it is at Matt. 6:10//Lk. 11:2 ELQETW hH BASILEIA SOU? Have you not
actually engaged in eisegesis here by assuming against any evidence
in the text of Matthew and Luke that when Jesus speaks of God's
BASILEIA he is actually speaking of his PAROUSIA?


Jeffrey Gibson

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