- Paperback: 124 pages
- Publisher: Fortress Pr (April 1, 1978)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0800613228
- ISBN-13: 978-0800613228
- Package Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,794,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Prayers of Jesus Paperback – April 1, 1978
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He notes, "God is seldom spoken of as 'Father' in the Old Testament, in fact only fifteen times. By being called 'Father,' God is honoured as the Creator." (Pg. 12) He adds, "Although one still frequently comes across the assertion that 'Father' was a common designation for God in the Judaism of the time of Jesus, there is no evidence for it in the sources... On the contrary, there are amazingly few instances before the New Testament period... There are rather more instances in Rabbinic literature." (Pg. 15-16)
He points out, "No less than one hundred and seventy times in the gospels, we find the word 'Father' for God on the lips of Jesus. At first glance there does not appear to be the least doubt that for Jesus 'Father' was THE designation for God. But is this really true? When we tabulate the number of instances in which the name 'Father' is used by Jesus in the gospels, we find that the result is startling. The occurrences are distributed as follows: Mark:4 - Luke:15 - Matthew:42 - John:109 ... The problem becomes even more acute if, first, we exclude the passages in which God is addressed as 'Father' in prayers, which require separate treatment... there was a growing tendency to introduce the title 'Father' for God into the sayings of Jesus." (Pg. 29-30)
He observes, "It is still more significant that we see that Jesus used the Aramaic word ['Abba'] ... when he addressed God the Father. While this occurs explicitly in the Gospels only at Mark 14:36, two other points confirm it. First, we should remember that the primitive church also addressed God as 'Abba'; Paul bears witness to this not only in the case of the communities in Galatia, which he founded (Gal 4:6), but also in the case of the Roman church, which was still unknown to him (Rom 8:15). This quite striking use of an alien Aramaic word in the prayer of the Greek-speaking communities goes back to the example of Jesus, as is certainly shown by the uniqueness of the linguistic usage. This presupposes that Jesus frequently used 'Abba' as a form of address to God." (Pg. 55)
More controversially, he notes, "We can say quite definitely that there is no analogy at all in the whole literature of Jewish prayer for God being addressed as Abba... We are thus confronted by a fact of the utmost significance. Whereas there is not a single instance of God being addressed as Abba in the literature of Jewish prayer, Jesus always addressed him in this way (with the exception of the cry from the cross, Mark 15:34). So we have here a quite unmistakable characteristic of the ipsissima vox Jesu." (Pg. 57) Later, he adds, "With the help of my assistants, I have examined the prayer literature of ancient Judaism... The result of this examination was that in no place in this immense literature is this invocation of God as 'abba' to be found." (Pg. 96) He explains, "We can see... why God is not addressed as Abba in Jewish prayers: to the Jewish mind it would have been disrespectful ... to address God with this familiar word." (Pg. 62)
He suggests, "we must be cautious about our conclusions. The possibility remains that Jesus himself spoke the 'Our Father' on different occasions in a slightly differing form, a shorter one and a longer one. But perhaps it would be safer to say that the shorter Lucan form [Lk 11:2-4] is in all probability the oldest one, whereas Matthew [6:9-13] gives us the earliest evidence that the Lord's Prayer was used liturgically in worship." (Pg. 91)
This is an excellent, extremely thought-provoking book; while some have disputed the "absoluteness" of Jeremias's "Abba" conclusions, it remains a fairly solid position, and this book is definitely "must reading" for anyone interested in the person and teachings of Jesus.
John E.D.P. Malin,
Chairman of the Board & CEO
Cecilia, LA 70521