> Apologies for cross posting, but I'd like to take advantage of the
> widest possible audience:
> I've just finished reading Joseph Heinemann's "The Background of Jesus'
> Prayer in the Jewish Liturgical Tradition" (pp. 81-89 in _The Lord's
> Prayer and Jewish Liturgy_, J. Petuchowski and M. Brocke, eds.) and I
> came across this statement on p. 86:
> Similarly, K. G. Kuhn (_Achtzehngebet und Vaterunser und dem
> Reim_ [Tubingen, 1950, pp. 21-22] emphasizes the contrast
> between the NT passages quoted [i.e., Matt. 26:39, 42; Mark
> 14:36 and Matt. 6:9 ff] and the Jewish conception, in which
> men "perform Thy will". This conception is found, for example,
> in the Palestinian version of the Eighteen Benedictions. In
> Rabbinic Judaism, the role of mankind in general, and of the
> Jewish people in particular, is to perform the will of God,
> whereas in the passive form used by Jesus ("May Thy will be
> done"), no room is left for man as an active agent performing
> God's will (p. 87).
> This is preceded by:
> There is reason to inquire whether the formula, "May it be Thy
> will" [of 1st century Jewish private prayers], expressed the
> same kind of abject deference and surrender to the will of God
> which is found in the prayer of Jesus: "Not as I will, but as
> Thou wilt" (Matt. 26:39, 42; Mark 14:36), as well as in the
> verse: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt.
> 6:9 ff.). Heiler considers those verses to be "the highest
> moment in the history of prayer", and regards the passing over
> of the petitioner's prayer "into the complete surrender in
> which the wish is suppressed" as the great innovation of
> Strack and Billerbeck also hold that there is no Jewish
> prototype for such utter surrender by the worshipper (except
> the words of Judah, in I Maccabees 3:60, "As may be the will
> in heaven, so shall He do"-but this is not a prayer). They
> regard the short prayer of Rabbi Eliezer, "May Thy will be
> done in heaven above, and grant relief to those who revere
> Thee; and do that which is good in Thy sight" (Tosephta
> Berakhoth 111, 7), as merely a faint echo of Jesus' prayer;
> while the other parallels from talmudic literature which are
> usually cited are not at all relevant according to their view.
> They do not mention the formula, "May it be Thy will", in this
> It would appear that Strack and Billerbeck are right and that,
> notwithstanding the affinity of Rabbi Eliezer's prayer to that
> of Jesus, there is a fundamental novelty in the conception of
> the latter. When the Jewish petitioner surrenders his wish to
> the will of God, he nevertheless does not abandon it
> altogether. His request still stands, and, if it remains
> conditional upon God's will, this is only because he trusts
> that it shall, indeed, be God's will to grant the request. We
> do not have here the same categorical surrender in which the
> petitioner's request is completely given up. If Jesus'
> conception represents the "highest moment in the history of
> prayers", then it also seriously undermines the value of
> prayer. For if, from the very outset, the petitioner has
> already abandoned all hope of his request's being granted if
> it does not conform to the will of God, why is he praying at
> all? For Rabbinic Judaism, prayer only exists to be heard and
> answered. There is simply no point to a prayer which is not
> nourished by a sense of assurance that it is not being offered
> in vain. There is unquestionably an element of paradox in all
> prayer, and this element is certainly not lacking in the
> Jewish view of prayer. But the outlook which is expressed in
> the prayers of Jesus reduces the very possibility of prayer to
> absurdity, and it is not shared by Rabbinic Judaism (pp.
> The statement that "in the passive form used by Jesus ("May Thy will be
> done"), no room is left for man as an active agent performing God's
> will" strikes me as very strange, especially in the light of Matthew's
> "on earth as it is in heaven" which seems to have in view someone other
> than God doing God's will as faithfully as it is done "in heaven".
> But is it true the passive form of the expression "May it be your will"
> obliterates any idea of human beings having a part in fulfilling the
> petition at Matt. 6:10//Lk 2? Can anyone point me to a discussion of
> the passive voice that would validate Heinemann's claim?
> Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
> 1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
> Chicago, Illinois
> e-mail jgibson000@...
Hello, my friend. I have ended my sabbatical (health reasons) and am glad to
see..er..read you again. I see you are continuing your extensive study of
theLord's Prayer. This is going to make a great book or paper. As is my
habit, I can only weigh in with the Aramaic vox Iesu where this part of the
petition is yhw) cbynk...yihwe tsebyanak...'Let happen.... your
wish/desire." There are usages of these words in the Targum of Isaiah
65:12; 66:4; Job 21:14and Proverbs 8:24. As is often the case the Aramaic
idiom may differ somewhat from the Greek and subsequent translations.
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