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

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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 1 of 21 , Jun 18, 2002
      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 2 of 21 , Jun 19, 2002
        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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