Echoes Of Wisdom In The Lordís Prayer (Matt 6:9-13) -- By: Rick W. Byargeon

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 41:3 (Sep 1998)
Article: Echoes Of Wisdom In The Lordís Prayer (Matt 6:9-13)
Author: Rick W. Byargeon

Echoes Of Wisdom In The Lordís Prayer
(Matt 6:9-13)

Rick W. Byargeon*

* Rick Byargeon is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 3939 Gentilly Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70126–4858.

A brief comment by R. N. Whybray regarding Prov 30:7–9 led to my exploration of the present topic: “The inclusion of this prayer, a genre unique in Proverbs, suggests that, like the Lord’s Prayer, which may have been partly based on it, it has a didactic purpose: that it is intended as a model prayer, composed by a pious man for imitation and reflection.”1 The idea of a link between Prov 30:7–9 and Jesus seems even more intriguing in light of a spate of works over the last several years that connect Jesus to the wisdom tradition of the OT and Judaism.2 I am therefore proposing that sig-nificant echoes of Prov 30:7–9 occur in the Lord’s prayer as recorded in Matt 6:9–13. The echoes do not preclude Jesus’ redaction of traditional Jewish expressions of prayer in the Lord’s prayer. The similarities between Prov 30:7–9 and Matt 6:9–13 in terms of content and genre, however, suggest more of a wisdom echo in the Lord’s prayer than previously thought.

I. Traditional Perspectives On The Background Of The Lord’s Prayer

Over the years the general consensus among many NT scholars has been that the Lord’s prayer is very similar to and perhaps even based upon first-century synagogue prayers. Therefore this section of the paper will examine the possibility that Jesus used current Jewish prayers as a model.

1. The Qaddish prayer. J. Dunn reflects the scholarly consensus regarding the connection between the Lord’s prayer and Jewish synagogue prayers by stating that “the Qaddish is of particular interest to Christians, since it may well have been used by Jesus in formulating the Lord’s Prayer.”3 The reason scholars affirm such a relationship is based on two expressions within the prayers. The Qaddish begins with the phrase “Exalted and hallowed be his great name,” which parallels “hallowed be your name” in Matt 6:9. The second expression shared between the two prayers is related to the coming kingdom. ...

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