Re: b-greek-digest V1 #1238

From: David L. Moore (
Date: Mon Feb 16 1998 - 18:26:52 EST

Jeffrey Gibson wrote:

>On Sun, 15 Feb 1998, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>> 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
>> 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.

        A key consideration that could affect how we understand especially
the clause about our daily bread is the question of whether the Lord's
Prayer, as we find it in Matthew, may be Semitic poetry. (This would not be
an option in the case of Luke's rendition of the Prayer, since it doesn't
lend itself be read as a poem. And if Luke's version is primary, or if the
two versions do not proceed from different instances of Jesus' teaching on
prayer; considerations of its being a poem in Matthew would be essentially
immaterial. Nevertheless, I'll proceed since I don't consider either of
these possibilities definitively decided.)

        The structure of the poem may be seen in the coupling of the
thoughts into pairs. The mention of God's exaltation with the reference to
his dwelling in heaven is echoed in the wish expressed for sanctification of
His name. "Your kingdom come" corresponds in thought to the prayer that His
will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. "Lead us not into temptation" is
echoed and amplified in "but deliver us from what (or whoever) is evil."

        But the most significant effect of this way of reading the Lord's
Prayer is its influence on our understanding of "Give us this day our daily
bread, And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." For if these
are two expressions are poetically parallel, Jesus is not only (or even
primarily) speaking about our provision of daily physical sustenance but
about our need for a personal daily protion of the grace of God and the
forgiveness it brings. Allusion of this sort which compares the matters
about which we are physically concerned to spiritual realities is
characteristic of Jesus teaching. So it would not be surprising from that
standpoint to understand the passage in this way.

        Similarities between Jesus' life and teaching on the one hand and
the history of Israel on the other is certainly a common theme in the
Gospels, and it would not be surprising to find it present in the Lord's
Prayer as Jeffrey has suggested. But if the Lord's Prayer is Semitic
poetry, reading it as such becomes a necessary prerequisite to its correct

David L. Moore
Miami, Florida, USA
Southeastern Spanish District of the A/G Dept. of Education
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