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Goulder and the LP

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    Below is a draft of a summary of why Goulder came to the conclusion he did (i.e., no ) with respect to the question of whether or not Matthew s version of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 30, 2009
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      Below is a draft of a summary of why Goulder came to the conclusion he
      did (i.e., "no") with respect to the question of whether or not
      Matthew's version of the LP can be taken as an accurate reproduction in
      Greek of what, according to Matthew Jesus gave his disciples to use as
      their (model) prayer.

      I'd be grateful to hear what you think of the accuracy of my summary.



      Is what we have at Matt. 6:9-3 is an accurate and trustworthy
      representation of the prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples? On
      this question scholars are with, few exceptions, united in saying
      no, he does not.: But they are, however, severely divided with
      respect to the grounds we have for saying no. For some, the reason
      for saying no is the conclusion that Jesus never gave to his
      disciples a prayer text that in any way resembled what we now find
      at Matt. 6:9-13 (or at Lk. 11:2-4). So there was nothing from Jesus
      for Matthew (or Luke) to reproduce. Others say no because of their
      belief that Jesus did indeed give his disciples a prayer text just
      as Matthew (and Luke) say he did, but that in length and form, if
      not also, at least at some points, in wording, it was closer to the
      version of "The Disciples' Prayer" that we find in Luke than what we
      find in Matthew, and therefore that Matthew (or his source) has
      added things to the prayer.

      The conclusion that the Jesus never gave to his disciples anything
      like what we now call the lords prayer -- i.e., a coordinated prayer
      consisting of an address to God as Father and a series of connected
      petitions about God's name, his kingdom, his will, his sons'
      "bread", their debts, and a "testing" -- was first given voice by
      British New Testament scholar Martin Goulder. He reached his
      conclusion after becoming convinced, primarily on the basis of the
      curious absence of knowledge of The Prayer, even in it's shorter
      Lukan form, in both Mark's Gospel as well as in any other New
      Testament writing apart from Matthew and Luke and the observation
      that the Prayer is "preserved" in a different form in Matthew than
      it is in Luke, that none of what he noted are the fundamental
      assumptions underlying the scholarly claim that the Lord's Prayer
      originates with Jesus "can be called satisfactory" and that "some
      of them are in fact highly odd." Should we not expect, he asked,
      if, as the "accepted history of the Lord's Prayer" supposes is the
      case, Jesus composed a prayer for his disciples to recite by heart
      (something which Goulder also thinks was uncharacteristic of Jesus)
      and to pass on to others, that the prayer would have been known to
      and used by other writing members of the early church, especially
      composers of Gospels, and especially composers who, like Mark,
      record teaching very close to the Lord's Prayer (cf. MK. 11:25-26)
      and thus produce a context where the reproduction of the prayer
      would have been fitting? And should it not be the case, given the
      presumed origin and the sacred quality and the intent behind the
      giving of the Prayer, that when those who did reproduce it, they
      would do so in forms that were both consistent with one another and
      in conformity with what the disciples had ultimately passed on to
      them to as one of the most important teaching that Jesus ever
      gave? And yet, according to Goulder, the prayer is not widely
      known to, or used by, any NT author other than the the first and
      third evangelist. And its reproductions are, as we have already
      seen, at variance with one another. Moreover, the form and language
      and emphases of the variances that appear in Matthew's version of
      the opening address to the prayer and in the petitions that are
      peculiar to his version of it (about God's Will and rescue from
      [the] evil [one]) are as redolent of, and in conformity with, his
      style and theological concerns as is the structuring and wording of
      the Lukan versions of two of the petitions that they have in common
      (the ones about bread and forgiveness) are of Luke's, that we have
      little choice but to conclude not only that both Matthew and Luke
      have felt free to make their own editorial contributions to the form
      and wording of the Prayer, but that they too were not aware of Jesus
      ever having given anything like the Lord's Prayer to his disciples.
      Would they really have had "the effrontery" to change the form and
      wording of the prayer if it was indeed "the one piece of liturgy
      composed by the Lord himself"? Would the churches for which
      (presumably) Matthew and Luke wrote have accepted, as they seem to
      have done, what would clearly appear to them as amendments to the
      Prayer, if, as the accepted history of the Prayer assumes, "the
      Prayer had been part of every Christian's catechism, and had been
      used (on a conservative estimate) for forty-five years?"

      Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
      1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
      Chicago, Illinois
      e-mail jgibson000@...

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