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Re: [XTalk] masters, disciples, and prayers

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... This is a rather interesting question. Of course, the immediate parallel example is John the Baptist, in Luke 11:1 But we bring some baggage to it in the
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 23, 2009
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      At 01:17 PM 2/23/2009, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:
      >Can list members provide me with some examples from the second temple
      >and tannaitic period of masters not only instructing their disciples in
      >the ways of prayer, but of giving them particular prayers to pray --
      >besides the example in Matt. 6:9 and Luke 11:2 of Jesus doing so?
      >
      >If there are such examples (that of John the Baptiser comes to mind),
      >what do they tell us about the purpose that a master had for doing so?

      This is a rather interesting question.
      Of course, the immediate parallel example is John the Baptist, in Luke 11:1

      But we bring some baggage to it in the way we moderns think of prayer. We
      should remember that Jesus lived during the period when the Second Temple
      was in use. "Prayers" were those said in Temple, and prayer practice is
      reflected, IIRC, in the Psalms. Thus, I'm wondering about the historicity
      of Mat. 6:6-7. What is the setting? Synagogues and street corners? Of
      course the setting here may be Galilee, in which non-Temple forms of prayer
      and worship may have developed even before the destruction of the Temple.

      My guess is that the practice of private prayer, or even small group prayer
      (such as disciples might pray together, as the LP was apparently designed
      to do) did not become common general practice until after the destruction
      of the Temple, which destroyed the primary locus of prayer. But you weren't
      asking about general practice, you were asking about disciples.

      How much baggage are we putting on the term "disciples"? To what extent
      does disciple simply mean "student"? Paul was a student of Gamaliel,
      according to Acts 5:24; 22:3. Did Gamaliel teach him to pray?
      We have record of 4 alleged prayers of Paul (conveniently gathered at
      http://www.aaidu.org/prayer.html):
      * Ephesians 1:17-23
      * Ephesians 3:14-21
      * Philippians:1:9-11
      * Colossians:1:9-11
      In these letters, Paul may have been setting an example by which he
      intended to teach his churches how to pray-- and judging by how he was
      regarded, some members of those congregations were regarded as his
      disciples (1 Cor 1:12; 3:4). In fact, these prayers could be interpreted as
      prayers for his disciples. This may qualify as your "instructing their
      disciples in the ways of prayer," but not with any specific prayer.

      Otherwise, one must look to the heterodox non-Temple Jews, e.g. Qumran, the
      Essenes, perhaps Masada for prayer by disciples. And to curiosities such as
      the Prayer of Manasseh, which looks like it was composed for the benefit of
      disciples (whose? when? where?), as an exemplar of a prayer to be prayed--
      and the fact of its continued recitation for centuries afterwards suggests
      that this pattern succeeded.

      Well, I'm rambling. Get what you can out of this.

      Bob Schacht
      University of Hawaii

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