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The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord's Prayer Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 7, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
No prayer is better known in the Christian world than the Lord's Prayer, taught by Jesus to His disciples as they listened to Him preach about the Kingdom of God. Crossan, co-founder of The Jesus Seminar and acclaimed author of many works on the life and mission of Jesus Christ, writes to answer the question, "How can we who live today hear the words of the Lord's Prayer in ways that reflect the concerns of His immediate hearers and impact our lives 2,000 years later?" Delving deeply into the story of the Jewish nation in Jesus' time, Crossan shows how Jesus, couched in the words of this prayer, advises His followers to reject violent methods of resisting their Roman captors, and instead work for the coming of the Kingdom of God, the only way to achieve true freedom. The theme of nonviolence permeates this book and becomes the foundation for Crossan's understanding, not only of the Lord's Prayer, but also of a variety of extra-biblical sources he references to support his thesis. A fine effort by a fine scholar. (Sept.) (c)
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Noted biblical scholar Crossan takes a fresh look at the Lord’s Prayer, also called the Our Father and the Abba Prayer. Prayed by Christians of all denominations and doctrinal persuasions, yet mentioning none of the issues that divide them, it is certainly Christianity’s official prayer and surely its greatest. Crossan takes key words from the prayer (Father, name, kingdom, will, bread, debt, and temptation), examines their meaning in a biblical context, and concludes that it is a revolutionary manifesto, proclaiming nonviolence and distributive justice. This seemingly radical exegesis will be as welcome to some as it is disconcerting to others. Even if one disagrees with the author’s conclusions, it will be difficult to dislike his book, as one of Crossan’s gifts is his ability to challenge his readers in a gentle, respectful, and nonconfrontational manner. --Christopher McConnell
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Top Customer Reviews
"...the prayer came from Judaism and was transmitted through Christianity, but was ultimately for everyone. ... the greatest prayer in every religion should speak to all the world and for all the earth."
Crossan indicates that the book seeks to weave together five connected themes (p.181-182):
Translating the patriarchal name "father" as "householder" to restore the intended original meaning of the word for a 21st century audience
As those made in the image of the Divine Householder, we are to collaborate with God as stewards who seek to maintain the world in justice and equality
Jesus as Heir of God, the divine Householder of the World - with son-ship and maleness understood as cultural necessity to ensure full rights as heir
Christians are called to collaborate with Christ as joint heirs with Christ
The first four themes come together in the Greatest Prayer, which is "both a revolutionary manifesto and a hymn of hope, not just for Christianity, but for the world."
In this book (which discusses the prayer in chapters based on each of the phrases), he positions the prayer in the historical milieu of 1st Century Palestine and Hebrew theology. Ideal of small-group discussion, each chapter offers gobs to think about in terms of the explosive and radical nature of what, too often, becomes something mumbled during church without too much thought. After reading this book (and using it to lead an adult Sunday School class at my own church), I felt like I had learned the Lord's Prayer for the first time. Best of all, what he explores in the prayer opens the door to even more study and thought. Read this book, and you'll probably decide, as I have, that Crossan's title is an understatement.