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Re: [Synoptic-L] Did Mark reject the Lord's Prayer ?

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  • Maluflen@aol.com
    In a message dated 6/15/2002 5:13:30 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ... Tom, for obvious reasons I would like to accept the validity of your interpretation here,
    Message 1 of 21 , Jun 16, 2002
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      In a message dated 6/15/2002 5:13:30 PM Pacific Daylight Time, tlongst@... writes:


      The questioner asks about
      Torah, "What good must I do....?" Jesus responds with a statement about
      Torah, stressing its unity (and, perhaps, the centrality of the decalogue),
      "The good is one." The questioner asks about the Torah. Jesus responds by
      talking about the Torah. Both question and response use "good" in the same
      way, to refer to Torah.


      Tom, for obvious reasons I would like to accept the validity of your interpretation here, but I have a few problems with it which perhaps I could get you to expand on for the list. My main problem is with the gender of ho agathos in Matt 19:17b. Why is it masculine and not neuter if it is a reference to the Law? If "the good"in this phrase were a reference to the Law, I would expect to read "hen estin to agathon". I agree with you (or at least with what I think you said in a previous post) that ho agathos should be read as subject and heis as predicate of the phrase, but the gender of both does not seem to me to support your reading. You also do not seem to incorporate 19:17a very well into your overall interpretation of the text: "why do you ask ME...?". And in this phrase, the gender of "the good" is ambiguous, because it is in the genitive case and could be either neuter or masculine (whatever one might make of this). It does seem to me that even reading Matthew as not dependent here on Mark, Matthew intends to have Jesus change the topic somewhat in his initial response to the questioner, raising it to another level perhaps, as he very often does in Matthew. But perhaps there is something I am not getting here. Also, even in the initial question, it seems to me exaggerated to take "to agathon" as simply a reference to the Law. It might be language deliberately used because of its connection to traditional Jewish discussions regarding the Law as the good, but an initial simple reading of the text must understand agathon here not as a substantive (and therefore a simple reference to the Law) but rather as an adjective modifying the interrogative particle ti, meaning "what thing". So as I read the text neither the questioner nor Jesus in his response really use the term "good" as a direct reference to the Law. Am I wrong here?

      Leonard Maluf
    • Ron Price
      ... Tom, I was trying to find out why you are so keen on your translation of hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS (Mt 19:17) before deciding whether to challenge it. All I had
      Message 2 of 21 , Jun 16, 2002
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        Thomas Longstaff wrote:

        > ..... he does not respond at all (nor even acknowledge), that at one
        >point he rested his argument on an inaccurate and biased translation of
        >Matthew, expressing the very bias that he was attempting to defend by using
        >that translation.

        Tom,

        I was trying to find out why you are so keen on your translation of
        hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS (Mt 19:17) before deciding whether to challenge it.
        All I had done was to go to the nearest translation at hand at the time,
        which happened to be the NRSV. I've since checked all the other English
        translations on my bookshelf, including the RC "Jerusalem Bible", and
        they all say something similar to the NRSV. You would appear to be way
        out on a limb here, though I accept that doesn't *in itself* prove
        you're wrong.

        > ..... With respect to the question of paying taxes to
        >Caesar, whether one accepts the point of view or not, one should at least
        >consider that this might represent a statement of zealot idealism.

        Far from not considering it, I actually agree here, though only in
        regard to the core saying in Mk 12:17 when it was (supposing it once
        was) an isolated saying. I've already explained why I think the Markan
        setting of the saying transforms it into advice that the taxes should be
        paid.

        >>> I suggested that if Mark were
        >>> late and believed that the earlier gospels would continue to exist and to
        >>> be available in the churches, then he was under no compulsion to include
        >>> everything .....

        >> That's not a reason relating to the LP *in particular*.

        >>> ..... - and need not have included the Lord's Prayer since it was
        >> >already available in the other gospels

        >> Ditto.

        >This is a good example of what I mean when I suggest that you are unwilling
        >even to consider the merits of any view other than your own.

        I don't consider a general reason, which works for any pericope, to be
        as good an explanation as a reason directed at the particular pericope
        in question, i.e. the LP.

        > ..... [ much snipped ] .....
        >So, if the Torah can be referred to as "the good" then the questioner in
        >Matthew comes with a question about Torah. "What good (what Torah, what
        >commandment) must I do to have eternal life?"
        > ..... Jesus responds with a statement about
        >Torah, stressing its unity (and, perhaps, the centrality of the decalogue),
        >"The good is one." The questioner asks about the Torah. Jesus responds by
        >talking about the Torah. Both question and response use "good" in the same
        >way, to refer to Torah. In my view the answer is neither irrelevant nor
        >pedantic.

        Thanks for explaining your viewpoint in such detail.
        Firstly, I admit that I'm not familiar with Pirke Aboth, nor any
        Rabbinic writings (assuming that's what it is). Looking at the crucial
        text hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS, I see that its normal translation involves a
        subtlety which my level of Greek is not up to assessing directly.
        However this does not disqualify me from making the following
        observations.
        (a) I'm wary of a position which apparently accuses the translators of
        both the standard English English NTs (NEB, REB) and the standard
        American English NTs (RSV, NRSV) of bias.
        (b) The idea that Mt 19:16 ff. is influenced by the structure of Prov 4
        seems inherently unlikely, if only because (according to the UBS3 index)
        Proverbs is never quoted in the gospels.
        (c) I still don't see why stressing the unity of the Torah has any
        relevance to the question.
        (d) The whole point of the pericope in all the synoptics is Jesus'
        follow-up, which indicates that keeping the Torah is not enough. So why
        on earth would the Torah be described as "good" in this context? All
        three synoptics are running it down by saying, in effect, that it is not
        good enough.

        > ..... In these gospels we have
        >two issues, albeit combined, rather than one,

        It is true that Mark and Luke include an extra issue, namely whether
        Jesus should be called "good". But as their conclusion is that he
        shouldn't, it's more likely the issue was removed by Matthew in order to
        enhance the image of Jesus. For if it had been added by Mark or Luke it
        would have tended to tarnish the image of Jesus. The general trend over
        time was to enhance his image.

        > despite your assertion that
        >Mark immediately turns from the "open and honest question" about eternal
        >life to comments about Torah (another critique of the way you argue your
        >case to which you do not respond).

        O.K., so I should have written "almost immediately" for v.18
        intervenes between vv. Mk 10:17 and Mk 10:19.

        >On the Two Document (or Three Document) Hypothesis you must admit that it
        >is a happy coincidence that Matthew found in Mark just the right term,
        >"good," to refer to Torah

        If "good" in Matthew *did* refer to the Torah, then yes.
        But there's yet another problem here. For if many of today's the best
        educated scholars don't see this reference, I doubt whether Matthew
        could have expected his audience to understand it.

        > and just the right words (with few changes)

        But here you let your enthusiasm run away with itself. They clearly
        weren't "just the right words" if any changes were needed.

        > ..... In this case I
        >think that the evidence weighs more heavily in favor of Matthean priority.

        Our assessment of the evidence is radically different.

        >I think that you have made some good points about the Lord's Prayer.

        Thanks.

        > Do I think that your analysis constitutes convincing evidence
        > that his gospel was written first? I confess that I do not ...

        Ah well, it was worth a try. ;-)


        Ron Price

        Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

        e-mail: ron.price@...

        Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm

        Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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      • Stephen C. Carlson
        ... The Greek of Matthew 19:17 hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS is notoriously obscure. Literally, it means the good is one or possibly there is one who/that is good,
        Message 3 of 21 , Jun 16, 2002
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          At 06:02 PM 6/16/02 +0100, Ron Price wrote:
          > Thanks for explaining your viewpoint in such detail.
          > Firstly, I admit that I'm not familiar with Pirke Aboth, nor any
          >Rabbinic writings (assuming that's what it is). Looking at the crucial
          >text hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS, I see that its normal translation involves a
          >subtlety which my level of Greek is not up to assessing directly.
          > However this does not disqualify me from making the following
          >observations.
          >(a) I'm wary of a position which apparently accuses the translators of
          >both the standard English English NTs (NEB, REB) and the standard
          >American English NTs (RSV, NRSV) of bias.

          The Greek of Matthew 19:17 hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS is notoriously
          obscure. Literally, it means "the good is one" or possibly
          "there is one who/that is good," but what that means in its
          context is not clear at all. Rather than presenting the
          readers with an obscure text, translators have had to impose
          some kind of interpretation, generally by referring to the
          clearer parallels in Mark and Luke. In fact, this behavior
          is not limited to English-language translators, for the Byzantine
          scribes have replaced hEIS ESTIN hO AGAQOS with OUDEIS AGAQOS
          EI ME hEIS, ho QEOS ("No one is good but one, God.").

          The interpretive nature of the rendering is openly acknowledged
          in the NASB ("New American Standard Bible") text, which employs
          italics around the word "only": "There is /only/ One who is good."
          Translations such as the NRSV do not employ italics and do not
          generally footnote their interpretive decisions. (The AV does
          not use italics here because it follows the Byzantine text.)

          O. Lamar Cope and TRWL here have proposed a plausible meaning
          of the Greek and Matthew's pericope as a whole, but you can
          never see it in the usual translations. You have to go to Greek.

          Personally, I've been disappointed with the standard source
          critical treatments of this passage. They exaggerate the
          Christological problems in Mark's text, while ignoring the
          lack of clarity in Matthew's text. Peter Head's discussion
          on this passage in his book is a welcome but rare, balanced
          treatment.

          Stephen Carlson
          --
          Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
          Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
          "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35

          Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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        • Jeffrey B. Gibson
          ... 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,
          Message 4 of 21 , Jun 18, 2002
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            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?
            >
            > Thomas,
            >
            > 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 "MARK’S 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
            matter:

            *********
            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 [298], 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
            end.
            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.

            Yours,

            Jeffrey Gibson
            --
            Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
            1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
            Floor 1
            Chicago, Illinois 60626
            e-mail jgibson000@...
            jgibson000@...



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          • Ron Price
            ... Jeffrey, The concept of the kingdom of God , like the role of Messiah , was too well-established in the tradition to be removed altogether. ... I ve not
            Message 5 of 21 , Jun 19, 2002
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              I wrote:

              >> 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.

              Jeffrey Gibson replied:

              >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.

              Jeffrey,

              The concept of the "kingdom of God", like the role of "Messiah", was
              too well-established in the tradition to be removed altogether.

              >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 "MARK’S INCIPIT AND THE PRIENE CALENDAR INSCRIPTION:
              >FROM JEWISH GOSPEL TO GRECO-ROMAN GOSPEL" at http://www.jgrchj.com/page67)

              I've not yet had time to study this article in detail, but certainly
              an initial look leaves me unconvinced that Mark had in mind any
              background other than the Tanak, and Isaiah in particular.

              >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.

              In a previous reply to you (dated Jun 13) I had already presented a
              case for seeing political overtones in the kingdom petition. You may not
              accept my case, but it is gratuitous to say that I "assumed what needs
              to be proven".

              >I hope you'll forgive me for taking the liberty of quoting myself on this
              >matter:

              Do proceed.

              >*********
              >Surely, the eschatologists argue, [the Kingdom] petition stands as conclusive
              >proof that for Matthew and Luke the LP is an eschatological prayer.

              Already you seem to be attacking a different target. Or are you, by
              quoting these words in the present context, assuming that if Matthew and
              Luke didn't take the petition as eschatalogical, then neither would
              Mark?

              > ..... 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.

              This may be the dominant impression, but there remains a certain
              ambivalence. For both writers included the saying about the kingdom of
              God being "near" (Matthew twice, Luke three times), in addition to the
              kingdom petition itself.

              > ..... 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?

              It was presumably a matter of timing. In other words, a "soon" seems
              to be implied, as you appear to acknowledge in the quotation below.

              > 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 .....
              > ..... 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) .....
              > ..... "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.

              The argument here is that formative Judaism expressed its
              eschatalogical hope using certain phraseology. Jesus didn't use that
              phraseology. Therefore Jesus is unlikely to have been expressing an
              eschatalogical hope. But the Christian interest in Jesus is precisely
              because he *didn't* conform to all the norms of Judaism. He introduced
              both new ideas and new phraseology. We cannot therefore assume that in
              this particular case he would have been a conformer. In painting a
              picture of the "kingdom of God", Jesus was clearly using his paints in
              an original way to produce an original overall effect.

              > 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" .....
              > [much snipped]
              >****

              The synoptic context of the kingdom petition is being invoked here.
              But even if your interpretation of this context is correct, Mark may
              still have worried that his readers might interpret "May your kingdom
              come" in isolation and take it (as I think it was originally intended)
              as a plea for the early restoration of the Davidic kingdom.

              Ron Price

              Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

              e-mail: ron.price@...

              Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm

              Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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