Re: Matt. 6:3//Lk. 11:3 Another Lord's Prayer Question!

From: Ward Powers (
Date: Sun Feb 15 1998 - 02:38:39 EST

At 19:02 98/02/13 -0600, Jeffrey Gibson wrote:

>Recently John Kloppenborg, in commenting upon my thesis on the meaning of
>Matt. 6:13//Lk. 11:4 which I propounded at length here on B-Greek last
>July or so, has asked me to provide evidence in support of my
>understanding of the petition *from within the immediate context of the
>Lord's Prayer itself* and not from other parts of Q or from a study of the
>use and meaning of PEIRASMOS, etc.. Pursuant to that I would like to ask
>the list a question about the meaning of Matt. 6:11//Lk. 11:3


>1. Behind the prayer stands authentic dominical tradition.
>2. The variants between both the substance and the wording of the Matthean
>and Lukan versions of the LP are not to be explained by an appeal to the
>supposition that Jesus gave two versions of the prayer on two or more
>occasions, with Matthew reproducing one version, and Luke another. Rather,
>behind each of the canonical versions stands a common tradition which each
>evangelist has taken up and redacted.



May I ask for further clarification of this second assumption, and the
grounds upon which you make it?

As a preacher from 'way back, I have a "stock" of sermons which I have used
on more than one occasion, adapting them slightly as appropriate to each
particular audience/congregation. It seems to me highly likely that that is
exactly what is happening with the sources of the two versions of the
Lord's Prayer. Please do not get me wrong: I am not examining my own
practice, and then arguing backwards to say that Jesus must have done the
same thing. Rather, I am saying that when a preacher has something
worthwhile to say, he wants it to get to a wide audience. It will be the
exception when, given multiple opportunities, he preaches that sermon on
just one occasion only.

We know from numerous comments in the Gospels that Jesus was constantly
preaching to the crowds, in city after city, town after town, and as he
travelled (cf Matthew 4:23-25; Mark 1:38-39; and multitudes of other
places). I can think of no reason why we could come to the conclusion that
having once given a teaching or preached a sermon in one location or to one
group Jesus would not thereafter refer to the matter again.

Furthermore, we will all (I believe) recognize that for some of his
material Matthew had sources which are totally independent of Luke's
sources, and vice versa. I myself accept the Apostle Matthew as the author
of the Gospel which bears his name, so I see him as eyewitness of many of
the things he records; but those who hold to another writer as the author
of this Gospel, and give it a later date than I would, will concur in
recognizing independent sources behind some of the material in this Gospel.
Similarly for Luke's Gospel.

This existence of independent sources for parts of Matthew and Luke, even
when they cover the same event or teaching, provides the most convincing
explanation (I speak personally) of many of the points of difference
between these Gospels. For example: some scholars lump together the
Matthew=Mark and Luke versions of the Visit to Nazareth and attribute them
both to Q; but if we compare the Greek text of these accounts [Matthew
13:53-58=Mark 6:1-6 and Luke 4:16-30] we will find that they have hardly a
significant Greek word in common. The most reasonable explanation for the
Greek text that we have is that the two accounts came from two different
sources, rather than that Luke had the other account in front of him [in Q]
and totally rewrote it.

So also with many examples of the teaching/preaching of Jesus. Matthew
gives this one or that one in one context; Luke in another; and the wording
of the two accounts differs in just the way you would expect if Jesus
preached it twice in those two different locations, and the reports of it
reached the Gospel writers from two different sources.

I am not denying that much of the Synoptic material has a common origin,
and that the later Synoptic author in utilizing earlier Synoptic material
has adapted its wording to suit his own purposes in writing and intended
audience. (And this remains true independent of which hypothesis of
Synoptic interrelationships one accepts.) But I am saying that it is not
self-evident that when an event or a teaching appears in two (or more)
Gospels it must have come from the same source and that differences are to
be attributed to redaction by the Gospel author(s).

To focus now on the wording of the Lord's Prayer:

1. The contexts of its two occurrences [Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4] are

2. The time of the setting within the life of Christ appears to be
different in Matthew (in the Sermon on the Mount) and Luke (in the Central
Teaching Section); though we cannot be completely certain of this - it
partly depends upon what we think of the unity of the Sermon on the Mount;
and Luke's time setting is very general.

3. In Matthew the teaching of the Lord's Prayer originates with Jesus; in
Luke Jesus gives it in response to a request from "one of his disciples".

4. In Matthew [6:14-15] Jesus goes on to draw a conclusion about
forgiveness which Luke does not contain; in Luke [11:5-8] the Prayer is
followed by the story of The Persistent Friend At Midnight, which has no
parallel in Matthew.

5. And, supremely, the two versions differ significantly in wording at
several points.

Jeffrey, it may be that the two versions that we have do derive from a
common tradition which each evangelist has taken up and redacted. But I
remain unconvinced that the evidence supports this view. And I do seriously
question that this can validly be taken as an initial assumption.

Further comment welcome.


Rev Dr B. Ward Powers Phone (International): 61-2-9799-7501
10 Grosvenor Crescent Phone (Australia): (02) 9799-7501
SUMMER HILL NSW 2130 email:

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