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More thoughts on the LP, the Amidah, the Kaddish, and Ber. 60b

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    Friends, Below you ll find some comments I have drawn up on what I think are the implications of the claim that the LP is related to the Amidah, the Kaddish,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 13, 1998
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      Friends,

      Below you'll find some comments I have drawn up on what I think are the
      implications of the claim that the LP is related to the Amidah, the
      Kaddish, and also the Evening Prayer (Ber. 60b), comments which are
      grounded in my continued exploration of whether the LP is an
      "eschatological" prayer.

      I should be grateful for any and all responses as to their clarity,
      coherence, and cogency.

      Yours,

      Jeffrey Gibson (who is obviously in an alliterative mood)

      P.S. Apologies for cross posting. Also, save for the reference to Perrin
      et al., I have not included here any citations or notes.

      --
      Jeffrey B. Gibson
      7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
      Chicago, Illinois 60626
      e-mail jgibson000@...

      *********
      Many scholars, and especially those urging the "eschatological"
      orientation of the LP, have drawn attention to the fact that at
      various points within its text the LP bears bears both a formal and
      material resemblance to certain ancient Jewish liturgical prayers.
      They point out, first of all, that the two opening petitions of the
      LP, PATER, hAGIASQHTW TO ONOMA SOU: ELQETW hH BASILEIA SOU (Matt.
      6:9//Lk. 11:2), are striking echoed both in the Kaddish:

      Magnified and hallowed be his great name in the world
      [or: age] that he has created for his good pleasure;

      May he cause his kingdom to reign [or: may his kingdom
      reign] in your lives and in your days and in the lives of
      the whole house of Israel very soon and in a near time.

      and in the 11th petition of the Palestinian rescension of the
      Amidah:

      Restore our judges as at first & our counsellors as in
      the beginning,
      and you yourself reign over us.
      Blessed are you LORD, who love justice

      And they also draw attention to the fact that Matt. 6:13a//Lk.
      11:4b, KAI MH EISENEGKHS hHMAS EIS PEIRASMON, finds a parallel in
      that portion of the mandatory Evening Prayer (preserved in Ber.
      60b) that reads

      and lead me not into (Lo l'yidei) sin (xet),
      or into iniquity ('avon)
      or into testing (ni'sa'yon),
      or into contempt (biza'yon).


      From this, and from the assumption that the Amidah, the Kaddish and
      the Evening Prayer predate the LP, it is often argued that our
      interpretation of the focus and concern of the LP should be based
      upon or derived from that which these Jewish prayers evince, since
      these prayers represent the model which the LP follows and give
      shape to the sentiment which it expresses.

      [For example, by Perrin, who states not only that the
      Kaddish was "a prayer in regular use in the Jewish
      synagogues immediately before the time of Jesus" but that
      the "most reasonable supposition" in explanation of the
      parallels between the Kaddish and the LP "is that the
      prayer of Jesus is a deliberate modification of the
      Kaddish" (Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom, 28-29
      Cf. also Jeremias, The Prayers of Jesus, 98, 104-105].

      There are, of course, formidable difficulties to this approach, the
      most important of them being (a) our lack of knowledge of the
      earliest form and wording of the Amidah, the Kaddish, and the
      Evening Prayer, (b) whether these prayers, whatever they orginally
      said, are actually in any way contemporaneous with the LP. But for
      the sake of argument, let us assume not only that (a) their
      earliest form and wording can and *has* been recovered, and that
      (b) the prayers are to be dated to early in the first century, but
      also that (c) the focus and concern of these prayers is reflected
      in the LP. The question then is: What is the focus and concern of
      these prayers? If we take our cue only from the petitions of the
      Amidah, the Kaddish, and the Evening Prayer noted above, as
      Jeremias et al. seem to do, then the answer would appear to be the
      wholly future Kingdom or Reign of God and the ardent hope that it
      might be brought into the present. But once we take into account
      the thrust of the liturgical setting in which the Kaddish was
      typically said as well as what the 11th petitions in the Amidah and
      the "lead me not" petitions in the Evening Prayer follow on from,
      and the frame of reference that these "contextualizations" give to
      them, it becomes clear that the answer is actualy securing divine
      aid to remain obedient in difficult times.
      Consider, first, our passage from the Evening Prayer (Ber.
      60b). The "lead us us not" petition which parallels Matt. 6:13//Lk.
      11:4 is introduced by the call of the pious one for God to

      ... grant that my portion be your torah
      And acustom me [lit., make my custom] to the performance of
      [lit. to the hands of] [your] commandment.
      And prevent me from making my custom transgression.

      The parallel to Matt. 6:9//Lk. 11:2 in the Amidah is preceded
      and contextualized not only by a benediction which (according to
      Finklestein) read

      1. Blessed are you LORD God of our Fathers: God of
      Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob; a God great,
      mighty & revered; the God Most High, Master of heaven &
      earth.
      -- Blessed are you LORD the Shield of Abraham.

      2. Mighty are you who sustain the living and revive the
      dead.
      -- Blessed are you LORD, who revive the dead.

      3. Holy are you and revered is your Name and there is no
      God beside you.
      -- Blessed are you LORD, Holy God.

      But also by the specific petitions:

      4. Our Father (Abinu), grant us knowledge and
      understanding and awareness of you.
      -- Blessed are you LORD, who grant knowledge.

      5. Our Father, bring us back to your Torah and return us
      in perfect repentance to you Presence.
      -- Blessed are you LORD, who delight in repentance.

      And the Kaddish, when recited liturgically, was apparently done so
      only after, and therefore within the context of thought provided
      by, the recitation of not only the Amidah, but, more importantly,
      also of the Shema, the confession of faith derived from Deut. 6:4,
      which both calls those of Israel to love God with the whole of
      heart, soul, and mind, and warns them sternly against "forgetting"
      their covenant obligations to him, refusing to trust in him and his
      ways, and putting him to the test (cf. Deut. 6:12, 16).
      So it would seem then that *if* the LP is indeed somehow
      grounded in these prayers and derives its focus and concern from
      that which they possess, then the focus and concern of the LP is
      not the future coming of God's Kingdom, but the preservation of
      those who pray it in faithfulness and avoidance of apostasy.
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