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

From: Jeffrey Gibson (
Date: Sun Feb 15 1998 - 19:44:48 EST

On Sun, 15 Feb 1998, Jonathan Robie wrote:

> Jeffrey,
> You continue to be a very original and interesting thinker. After much
> thought, I'm wavering on this one.
> On the one hand, it would fit many themes of the Sermon on the Mount
> nicely: the idea of daily bread is a lot like manna, which is directly
> related to ideas like taking no thought for the morrow, not thinking that
> by worrying we can add to our span, God knows what we need, etc. And the
> implication of utter trust in God, who knows better than we do what we
> need, is very attractive.
> The idea that PEIRASMOS may be refer to testing God by grumbling makes
> sense, since (1) PEIRASMOS is a pretty rare word, and (2) it is used in
> Deuteronomy in the passages you mention, which would be pretty familiar ones.
> But I have a few questions due to the context:
> (1) Why do we have the intervening verse asking God to forgive us our sins
> as we forgive those who sin against us? Doesn't this break up the thought?
> Your interpretation would be more cogent if this verse were not there.
> (2) How would you relate this intepretation of the use of PEIRASMOS to Luke
> 11:5-13, which comes right after the Lord's Prayer, in fact, the ONLY other
> pericope directly associated with it in Luke, and which tells us to pound
> on the door until our friend gives us what we need because of our
> persistence? This doesn't feel like a warning not to grumble and ask too much.
> You've certainly got me thinking!


Many thanks for your kind words. The more I look at how my thesis on the
bread petition links up with themes on the Sermon on the mount,
especially that a new righteousness, which rejects the ways that "old
Israel"/"this generation" viewed faithfulness, is incumbent upon those
who would be members of Jesus "new" Israel (is this a fair statement of
the ethics of the Sermon), the more I'm convinced that something of what
I say regarding the LP being a prayer for help to avoid the "sins" of
"old Israel"/"this generation" MUST be what is going on in that prayer,
at least according to Matthew. But it is LUKE's version of the bread
petition that seems to lend itself most easily to this intepretation. I
still am seeking answers from those on the list as to whether the syntax
and grammar of Matt. 6:11 precludes this reading.


As to your question on whether the petition on forgiveness which
now appears between the bread and PEIRASMOS petition sequence interrupts
the sequence of thought, or even goes against it: My first response is
that I haven't thought that far ahead yet! I am trying to take one
petition at a time.

Second, I could take the easy way out and argue that this was not in Q,
as some have done, and therefore since the challenge Kloppenborg has
given me is to buttress my temptation clause thesis with evidence from
within the Q version of the prayer, I could avoid the issue altogether.
But assuming that the forgiveness petition was in Q (and not now worrying
about whether the Matthean or the Lukan version of the petition is the
more original - note the significant differences between Matt's forgive
us *as* we forgive vs. Lk's "forgive us ... since we have indeed
forgiven"), this won't do.

Third, I am not so certain that the petition actually is disconsonant with
what appears before and after it. There is no contradiction between asking
for help to avoid grumbling as Israel of old did and asking to be treated
well for living up to an ethic to which one has bound oneself covenantally
(sp?), is there? Isn't this also part of the Son/covenant theme so
prominent in Deut. 6-8?

As to how my thesis fits in with the passage about knocking (which ends at
Lk. 11:9, the so-called parable of the Friend at Midnight passage): my
first response is again to note that I am dealing with Q, and as Lk 11:5-9
is special Lukan material and therefore (and for other reasons elucidated
by Kloppenborg and Tuckett but denied by Catchpole), it probably is not in
Q. Consequently, it can easily be dismissed as having no bearing on the
issue at hand. Or, rather, it *does* have a bearing, but only when we look
at how Luke understood the prayer.

But even if it were there, I take the emphasis of this passage that one
should not be worried about God granting to his sons the ability not to
grumble or put him to the test, even when it seems like not grumbling,
putting God to the test, etc. is going to be impossible. For in my eyes
the emphasis of the parable is that God should be trusted.

And note how the passage about cares that certainly was in Q (Lk
11:10-13) DOES fit in with my thesis that the prayer is designed to be
prayed when the community, like the Israel of old, begins to doubt that
the ways God has given it to thrive are adequate to their ends!

Having said all this, I hasten to add that all of these responses are
provisional and represent me thinking out loud. All that I said
yesterday regarding the bread petition is the very first time I have
thought about, let alone even tried to put into words, the question of
what if any coherence exits between the bread petition and my thesis on
the temptation petition of the LP!

I am grateful, however, for these additional questions because they force
me to think about things that I'm eventually going to have to think about
if I am to answer Kloppenborg's challange.

So keep 'em coming.

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