Re: Matt. 6:13//Lk. 11:3 Another Lord's Prayer Question!

From: Jeffrey Gibson (
Date: Sun Feb 15 1998 - 12:31:02 EST

On Sat, 14 Feb 1998, Ben Crick wrote:

> On Fri 13 Feb 98 (19:02:15), wrote:

> > OK. So here's the question. The Lukan form of the petition suggests
> > that the situation of the petitioners is *not* one of hunger, one where
> > they lack sustenance. It is presupposed that they *have* bread, they
> > have been supplied with it. What they are asking for is that what they
> > *have been* supplied with (this strange EPIOUSIOS bread) continue to be
> > supplied. But does the Matthean version of the petition suggest or
> > imply this? More importantly, is there anything in the grammar or the
> > syntax of Matt. 6:11 which would rule this view out of court?
> Dear Jeffrey,
> As one who followed this thread with great interest last year, yes, I would
> like to make a few comments/suggestions. Not brickbats: MH GENOITO.


Thanks for your reply. I appreciate the time you have taken to addres my
questions and observations. To respond fully to all you have
to say would take us beyond the bounds of B-Greek. But there are certain
of your statements that I cannot resist responding to here. (Apologies to
the list if even *these* responses do not appear germane).

The first is:

>Accepting your Assumptions for the moment, not wanting to
>sidetrack myself discussing THEM! I would agree with Edgar that
>Redaction Criticism has been overdone, and that we should
>disregard its assumptions, and assume that what we have is due to
>the redaction of our Lord's words by Matthew and Luke, not by 2nd
>century hands of which we have no certain knowledge.

This is curious in a number of ways. It does not follow that if
Edward (not Edgar) is correct in saying Redaction Criticism has
been "overdone" (and, indeed, is this what Edward actually said?),
that we should disregard its assumptions. More importantly you
yourself, in claiming that "we should ... assume that what we have
[in the variants in wording and substance between the Matthean and
Lukan versions of the LP] is due to the redaction of our Lord's
words by Matthew and Luke" fall right into the Redaction Critic's
camp. Further, not a single Redaction Critic, and certainly neither
Edward or myself, has claimed that these differences stem from the
activity of "2nd century hands of which we have no certain

(And may I gently remind you that you have reversed yourself! In your
contribution to the LP thread of last July/Aug, your explanation
for the diffferences between The Matthean and Lukan versions of the
LP were due to Matthew reproducing a version that Jesus had said on
one occasion and Luke reproducing a version said on another?).

The second comment is:

>Your exegesis last year about the "bread" being like the Manna in
>the wilderness; and the "temptation" being like the way the
>Israelites "tempted" God "as in the provocation, and as in the day
>of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me, and
>saw my works..." (Psalm 95:8-9), struck me as not really germane
>to the disciples, soon to be apostles, who would be teaching the
>CHURCH how to pray, not Israel. As a pastor of many years'
>standing, I found that the temptations that I and my flock were
>heir to day by day were NOT of that ilk at all, but were the
>temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; or as John
>puts it, "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the
>pride of life" (1 John 2:16).

Leaving aside whether in last year's thread I actually discussed the bread
petition (I don't recall doing so), why, I ask, is my interpretation of it
(and of the PEIRASMOS petition) not germane? It appears that your reason
for saying so is grounded very much in what you assume to be the situation
in which Jesus gives the prayer to his disciples (or in which they give it
to the post easter generation), which you imply is exactly what your
situation and that of your congregation is, namely, one in which the
predominate concern and problem is the individual being beset with inner
psychological conflict" or what we associate with the word "temptation".
But it seems to me - and I think on historic, exegetical, and on other
grounds, including the constraints and character of Jesus mission, which
was to the nation Israel, and involved claims regarding how Israel should
be faithful to God - that a far stronger case is to be made that the
background of the prayer is an awareness on Jesus' part that the disciples
as a group (note, all the petitions involve the plural prounoun) are
constantly in danger of abandoning God's ways as Jesus had revealed them,
ways that he was calling Israel, as well as the disciples, to follow to,
but which "this generation" was ignoring. What, then, would be more
germain, than a call to these disciples to pray to be enabled not to repeat
the Exodus generation's sins? This after all was the very thing that, in
Jesus' eyes, the Israel that Jesus was calling his disciples away from
was now doing - as his branding of the heardhearted among contemporary
Israel with the title "this generation" testifies (see
Lovestamms, _Jesus and "This Generation")!

Your view, quite contrary to either the Matthean or Lukan settings of the
LP, seems to assume that the prayer was not for the disciples *at all*.
But even if not - even if the prayer was given so that the
disciples/Apostles could teach the church to pray - was not it the view of
the disciples/Apostles that the church as the church (again that pesky led
"us", give "us", forgive "us"!) constantly in danger of the very apostasy
that I think Jesus saw as besetting his disciples? Far too much of the
NT exhortational material to the nacsent church says just this! What else is
the use of the OT PEIRASMOS tradition in Hebrews used for? Or Paul's
recollection of the Wilderness generation in Corinthians?

More importantly, Ben, I think you are all too ready to make your
congregation's situation that of the disciples and the early church, and
to use what you experience in your day to day life as a key to what the
disciples MUST have experienced.

The third comment is:
>So on balance, IMHO the PEIRASMOS that we need daily deliverance
>from is the temptation to disobey God, not the temptation to
>presumptively put the Almighty to the test.

I think, here, you make a false distinction between disobeying God and
putting him to the test. This certainly is not what Deut. or the entire OT
reflection on the Massah tradition has to say. Indeed it *exactly by* is
disobeying God, refusing to trust in him and that his ways are adequate,
that in both the OT and NT PEIRASMOS tradition constitues "putting God to
the test". Consequently, your exegesis of the LP cannot help but be
skewed in the direction in which you think it is to be interpreted.

I'm going to close here by sharing with you a section from the article I
worked up from our discussions on Matt. 6:13//Lk. 11:4 which was carried
out here on B-Greek last year. This, I hope, will move some way towards
showing that your claim that "the PEIRASMOS that [the LP says] we need
daily deliverance from is the temptation to disobey God, not the
temptation to presumptively put the Almighty to the test" is really not
what the LP says at all, since what you take as precluding my
interpretation - a distinction between disobeying God and putting him to
the test - is a distinction made in the LP itself.


Within one section of his passionately rendered, and lamentably
unfinished New Testament Theology, entitled "What did Jesus
expect?", Joachim Jeremias summed up all of his studies of the
original meaning of KAI MH EISENEGHHS hHMAS EIS PEIRASMON with the
words: "The petition for protection from succumbing to ...
PEIRASMOS is the desperate cry of faith on trial: preserve us from
apostasy, keep us from going wrong" (New Testament Theology, 129).
The evidence examined in the previous pages indicates that in this
conclusion Jeremias is absolutely right. It is protection from
"going wrong" that is the intended object of the petition. But what
also must be concluded in the light of the evidence I have adduced
above is that nature of the "going wrong" envisaged within the
petition is that of the particular sin that Israel engaged in at
Massah, the grumbling and the disobedience that was tantamount to
"putting God to the test". Therefore, I submit that the original
meaning of Q 11:4 was a cry in which the community of believers
asks as a community to be protected by God not from experiencing
PEIRASMOS, but from subjecting God to it.

If this conclusion is correct, it remains for me to indicate how,
according to the Jesus of Q, being "led into PEIRASMOS" and
consequently engaging in the activity of "proving God" would flesh
itself out. What actually is it in his eyes that the community of
believers he has called to be "Sons of God" could do that would be
the functional equivalent of Israel's sin at Massah? The answer to
this question seems clear whether we see the Jesus who charges his
disciples to pray for help not to "test God" as either the Sage or
the Deuteronomic prophet of judgement. The community would involve
itself in rejecting the call from Jesus that it should regard as
"of God", and therefore be bound by, the principle of non-
retaliation and especially the constraint to love the enemy. For a
posture of non-retaliation and the willingness to love the enemy
are together the epitome and the essence of the way in both the
Sapiential and the Deuteronomic strands of Q that the community has
been charged to show itself faithful to the God it acknowledges as
father. They are what Jesus claims at Q 6:26-35 that disciples must
commit themselves to if they are to be acknowledged by God as Sons.
They are the things which "this generation", the antitype of the
community Jesus tries to form, refuses to accept as the path God
has ordained for those of Israel to follow. And, as I have shown
elsewhere, they are the things which are presumed and identified in
the story of Jesus wilderness confrontation with the Devil as what
a Son must uphold as God's way in the world in order to avoid
"putting God to the test".


Jeffrey Gibson

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