Ron Price wrote:
> Thomas Longstaff wrote:
> > ..... I am not sure why you suggest
> >only this reason, shortage of space, as a possible explanation for Mark's
> >omission. Do you have some reason for highlighting that possible reason
> >among the many that might be suggested?
> On my synoptic theory (the 3ST), Mark decided not to include the
> complete Lord's Prayer from the early sayings source ('sQ') because he
> realized the clause "May your kingdom come" had political overtones, and
> he was anxious to present a gospel which would not unduly offend the
> Roman authorities.
Two problems here, I think.
One, on your thesis it would be difficult to explain then why Mark has Jesus not
only use **any** BASILEIA TOU QEOU language, but begin his ministry with the
programmatic announcement HGGIKEN hH BASILEIA TOU QEOU.
Two, it would also be difficult to explain why Mark chooses to summarize what
Jesus preaches as the EUAGGELION TOU QEOU since EUAGGELION is a term with roots
in the propaganda of the Imperial Cult, and the addition of the phrase TOU QEOU
makes Jesus' message a **direct competitor** to the EUAGGELION of Caesar. (on
this, see Craig A. Evans "MARKS INCIPIT AND THE PRIENE CALENDAR INSCRIPTION:
FROM JEWISH GOSPEL TO GRECO-ROMAN GOSPEL" at http://www.jgrchj.com/page67)
Then there is the problem that you have assumed what needs to be proven, namely,
that the Kingdom petition in the LP is a call for God to bring in his BASILEIA
in the near future and therefore has political overtones. I have argued in my
recent BTB article on problems with seeing the LP as an eschatological prayer
that this is simply **not** the focus of this petition. Rather, the aim of the
petition is to secure divine aid against apostasy.
I hope you'll forgive me for taking the liberty of quoting myself on this
Surely, the eschatologists argue, [the Kingdom] petition stands as conclusive
proof that for Matthew and Luke the LP is an eschatological prayer. For is it
not self evident, they ask, given (a) the import of the language of Matt.
6:10a//Lk. 11:2c, and (b) the formal parallelism of the Kingdom petition with
those in the Amidah and the Kaddish which speak of the hastening of God's
kingdom and which (it is claimed) have eschatological intent, that what we have
here is a plea for God to act now to do something he was expected to do only in
the future, namely, establish decisively his sovereignty on earth?
Well, no, it is not self evident, and for two reasons. First, to say that
the petition is a plea for God soon to usher in his BASILEIA (reign/rule)
implies that, at the time the prayer was given, Jesus believed that God not only
had not yet done so, but, more importantly had no intention of doing so, at
least in the foreseeable future (on this, see A. Polag, 60; Beasely Murray,
150). And yet nothing is more certain in the portrait of Jesus that both Matthew
and Luke paint than that Jesus knew God's kingdom to be a powerfully present
reality. Indeed, in the contexts in GMatt and GLuke in which the giving of the
LP takes place, the prevailing assumption about God's BASILEIA is that it and
the opportunity it offers for the salvation of God's people has already arrived
(cf. Matt. 4:16; Lk. 4:16-21; 19:44). In the light of this, it seems unlikely
that the petition in Matt. 6:10a//Lk. 11:2c is a plea for God to act now to do
something he was expected to do only in the (distant?) future. Why urge anyone
to pray for the accomplishment of a fait accompli?
Second, there is the observation that insofar as the wording of petitions in
Jewish prayers wherein God is clearly urged to bring about the early dawning of
his Kingdom stands as any kind of evidence for what prayers with this intent
should look like or be worded, then taking Matt. 6:10a//Lk. 11:2c as having the
intent that "eschatologists" say it has is ruled out. As these Jewish prayers
evince, the standard practice when invoking God to hasten the arrival of his
kingly rule was to use the expression "cause to reign" or a form of the verb "to
reveal", not "to come". Thus if what Jesus actually intended his disciples to
pray in the Kingdom petition for was God's speeding up the timetable for the
arrival of the BASILEIA TOU THEOU (reign/rule of God), he should have urged them
to say not ELTHETW hH BASILEIA SOU (Let your reign/rule come) but something more
along the lines of APOKALUPSATW (be revealed) or (EM)FANEROUTW hH BASILIEA SOU
(let your reign be manifested). And when we add to this observation the fact
(acknowledged even by such staunch advocates of the eschatological
interpretation of the LP as Meier , and Davies and Allison, [1:604]; see
also Chilton, 37) that "kingdom" or the expression "God's Kingdom" cannot be
found anywhere in the entire corpus of the literature of formative Judaism (let
alone that of Jewish petitionary prayers, or for that matter that of the NT) as
the subject of the verb "to come", we have good reason to doubt that the
expression ELTHETW hE BASILEIA SOU means what the proponents of the
eschatological interpretation of the LP claim is does.
In fact what it seems to mean is "may we be made worthy of your reign by
being conformed not to our own will but to yours". Three things indicate this.
First, as we have seen, the petition is set by both Matthew and Luke within the
context of Jesus' larger proclamation not only that the Kingdom has arrived but
that both those who seek the Kingdom and those who think they have it as their
heritage must turn and conform themselves to its demands if it is ever to be
theirs. With this as its immediate background, ELTHETW hE BASILEIA SOU echoes
the calls in Rabbinic literature (cf. Yoma 86b; Sanhedrin 97b) for Israel to
seek God's aid to be conformed to charity, obedience, justice, and repentance in
order to be rendered worthy of the deliverance that was faithful Israel's
inheritance (so G.E. Moore, 2:350-352).
Second, there is the implication of the fact, noted by George Caird, that
in the formal and material parallel to the Kingdom petition (Matt. 6:10a//Lk.
11:2c) found in Rev. 22:20c --namely, the petition ERCHOU, KURIE IESOU (Come,
Lord Jesus!), which, like Matt. 6:10a//Lk. 11:2c, is (a) a prayer consisting of
a form of ERXOMAI (to come) in the imperative + subject, and (b) also is uttered
in the context of an announcement of the dawning of a divine visitation (cf.
Rev. 22:20a,b "He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon."
(compare Matt. 4:17; Lk. 4:16-21)--the function ERCHOMAI has there is to express
the desire to be turned from disobedience and conformed to what is called upon
to "come". As Caird notes, Rev. 22:20c is "... a prayer that Christ will come
again to win in his faithful servant the victory which is both Calvary and
Armageddon. It is the prayer which says. 'All I ask is to know Christ and the
power of his resurrection, to share his sufferings and conform to the pattern of
his death, if only I may arrive at the resurrection of the dead (Phil. iii.
10-11). It is a prayer that the Christian, confronted by the great ordeal, may
'endure as one who sees the invisible' (Heb. xi. 27), and may hear above the
harsh sentence of the Roman judge the triumph song of heaven" (288, italics
mine). This being the case, then, mutatis mutandis, what the ELTHETW (let come)
in the petition ELTHETW hE BASILEIA SOU does is to express the wish to be made
worthy of God's Kingdom and to be protected from all that would prevent this
And third, there is the implication of Matthew's expansion and explication
of the petition ELTHETW hE BASILEIA SOU with the phrase "May your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven" (GENETHETW TO THELHMA SOU, hWS EN OURANW KAI EPI
GES, Matt. 6:10b,c). If we assume, as I think we should (especially given how
its conformity with the Matthean version of Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane, where
God's enabling of obedience in the face of a desire to be otherwise is exactly
what is expressed, makes the ethical interpretation of Matt. 6:10b,c certain) ,
that the concern of this explicatory phrase is God's enabling of the disciples'
obedience in the face of a desire to be otherwise , we have early testimony that
the objective of the petition which the phrase explicates (ELTHETW hE BASILEIA
SOU) was known to be something other than having God decisively manifest himself
ahead of the time he intended to so do. Quite the contrary, it is to have God
insure that the will of his people is co-ordinate with and not antithetical to
God's own purposes for them.
In the light of all this, the eschatological interpretation of Matt.
6:10a//Lk. 11:2c seems forced. Indeed, the evidence shows that rather than its
being an imploration to God to make his kingdom arrive, ELTHETW hE BASILEIA SOU
is actually a plea for divine aid for obedience and against engaging in apostasy
as Jesus defines it.
Given this, it then seems to me that if we grant for the sake of argument that
Mark did indeed know the LP and chose to leave it out of his Gospel, it simply
cannot be for the reasons you give.
Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
Chicago, Illinois 60626
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