The “Daily Bread” Motif In Antiquity -- By: Edwin M. Yamauchi

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 28:2 (May 1966)
Article: The “Daily Bread” Motif In Antiquity
Author: Edwin M. Yamauchi


The “Daily Bread” Motif In Antiquity

Edwin M. Yamauchi

The phrase “our daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer has been one of the most discussed phrases of the New Testament. The problem of the word ἐπιούσιος rendered “daily” in our common versions, is that it occurs only in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:11; Lk. 11:3) and that its attestation elsewhere in Koine Greek is doubtful.

In Arndt and Gingrich’s Lexicon there are two alleged occurrences of this word outside the New Testament. It was reported in Biblica 35 (1954), 136 f., that the Berlin paleographer Klaffenbach had discovered the word on a Greek inscription at Lindos on Rhodes. Later studies by Metzger and by Debrunner show that Klaffenbach probably misread the inscription.1 The other alleged occurrence was on one of the Hawara papyri deposited in the University College, London, which has since disappeared. There is a likelihood that even here Sayce, the editor of the papyrus, may have misread the text.

Three renderings for the word have been suggested from etymological considerations: 1) Origen’s “supersubstantial” from ἐπί and οὐσια; 2) “for the following (day)” or “continual” from ἐπ᾿ and ἰουσα, as instanced in the Curetonian Syriac; and 3) “bread which is at hand”, “the bread for our (daily) need” from ἐπι and ὠν, οὐσα, favored by the Peshitta and Chrysostom.2

Hadidian on the basis of the renderings of the Curetonian Syriac, the Sinaitic Syriac, and the Acts of Thomas, together with an argument from the rendering of II Mac. 1:8 in an Armenian manuscript, favors the rendering “the bread of con-

tiiluity”.3 Jeremias on the basis of Jerome’s reference to the rendering “for tomorrow” in the Gospel according to the Hebrews favors the translation “bread for tomorrow”, and interprets this eschatologically as the “bread of life”.4 Stendahl likewise interprets the phrase as a prayer for participation in the heavenly meal here and now on the basis of the rendering in the Gospel according to the Hebrews and in analogy to the anticipation ...

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