Yeshua’s Prayer

In yesterday’s post, I was unable to put up links to the mp3 files for the newly written melody of the Avinu (Lord’s Prayer). I have the files uploaded and the links ready today (in this post and back in yesterday’s as well).

In this post I will explain some things about Yeshua’s prayer (the Lord’s Prayer, the Avinu, or the Pater) and about the Delitzsch Hebrew-English gospels (DHE) from which the lyrics are derived. The DHE is an about to be released, very Jewish presentation of the gospels by Vine of David (an imprint of First Fruits of Zion).

Here are the samples in Hebrew and English. After the jump, I will explain more about this ancient prayer, its origins and intended use, and about the DHE. YOU CAN NOW PURCHASE THE MUSIC AT ROMANANDALAINA.COM HERE.

Sample of the Avinu in Hebrew (DHE Version, 2011 Vine of David, Music by Roman&Alaina).
Sample of the Avinu in English (DHE Version, 2011 Vine of David, Music by Roman&Alaina).

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Yeshua’s Prayer and Discipleship
The origin story of Yeshua’s prayer is told in Luke 11. The disciples asked Yeshua to teach them to pray as John the Baptist taught his disciples.

It is possible, but not at all certain, that a custom existed already in which leaders of Jewish circles of disciples would teach their disciples a specific prayer. This is certainly a later custom. On page 118 in the Ashkenaz version of the Artscroll Complete Siddur, we find a note on the concluding benediction offered after the Amidah. It is the blessing following the Amidah that begins, “My God, guard my tongue from evil . . .”

The note in the bottom margin reads:

Many of the Talmudic sages composed individual supplications that they would recite at the conclusion of the prayer. Some of these supplications are recited in Berachos 16b-17a.

You can see the prayers of various sages here.

It is by no means certain that this is the kind of thing that Luke 11:1 is telling us. But consider: Yeshua answers their question by giving them a prayer. The probable intention is that those who recite Yeshua’s prayer identify themselves through using it as being his disciples.

When we say the Lord’s Prayer (the Avinu, the Pater), we are identifying ourselves with Yeshua as his disciples.

Two Versions
There are two versions in our Greek New Testament of the prayer. The one in Matthew is longer (seven parts) and the one in Luke is shorter (five parts).

MATTHEW’S VERSION (DHE Translation)

Our Father, who is in heaven,
(1) may your name be sanctified.
(2) May your kingdom come;
(3) as your will is done in heaven, may it also be on earth.
(4) Give us the bread that is our allotment today,
(5)and pardon us our debts, as we have also pardoned those indebted to us.
(6) And do not bring us into the power of testing,
(7) But rescue us from what is evil.

Please note that the famous “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the majesty, forever and ever, amen” is a benediction added later, not in the earliest manuscripts of Matthew at all. It is a later Christian tradition added from 1 Chronicles 29:11. This idea should be familiar to all who add a similar benediction after the Shema, “Baruch shem kavod malchuto le’olam va;ed.”

LUKE’S VERSION (Paraphrased since I do not have the DHE to consult)

Father,
(1) may your name be sanctified.
(2) May your kingdom come.
(3) Give us the bread that is our allotment today.
(4) Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone in debt to us.
(5) And do not bring us into the power of testing.

Yeshua’s Prayer and the Kaddish
The Kaddish is an Aramaic prayer still in use today. It’s exact form has variations and doubtless throughout history its form has changed in various ways. The prayer is thought to be older than the first century since it has been preserved in Aramaic instead of Hebrew. The dialect of the Kaddish is said to be the same as Targumic Aramaic, which suggests an early date.

The Kaddish begins in a manner very similar to Yeshua’s prayer:
יתגדל ויתקדשׁ
May his name be magnified and sanctified.

Liturgy or Model Prayer?
There is a notion in low-church preaching (churches that are not liturgical) that the Lord’s Prayer is not to be repeated verbatim. It is viewed as a model prayer.

This notion deserves complete and utter scorn. Shame on teachers who justify their tradition by simply making things up as they go along.

Yeshua and the disciples lived in a liturgical culture and tradition. It is a notion of zero probability that Jesus the Jew gave his disciples a prayer he did not intend them to say.

Liturgy is a biblical notion. The Song of the Sea, the entire Psalter, the poetic hymns of the New Testament, are all evidence that Israel and the early congregations were not “low-church.”

Yeshua’s prayer is intended to be recited. The fact that Luke’s version is different is definitely a clue that exact wording is not required. The same prayer can exist in multiple versions. It is one more example of the fact that ancient worshippers did not consider word for word exactness of great importance. For example, the apostles frequently quote from the Greek version of the Bible, even at times basing their applications on renderings that differ from the Hebrew.

A Word on the Upcoming DHE
I plan to blog in the future on Franz Delitzsch. He is best known for his commentary on the “Old Testament.” Delitzsch was not Jewish He was a Christian Hebraist in the nineteenth century.

His translation of the Greek New Testament into Hebrew attempts to render the text into a classical or biblical form of Hebrew. Yeshua’s sayings almost certainly were in Aramaic and not Hebrew. But renderings in classical Hebrew could possibly bring us close to the original idioms of Yeshua’s language. Any translation from Greek into Hebrew is guesswork. There is no sense in which a Hebrew rendering of a Greek tradition becomes more accurate than the original.

But the New Testament has suffered 2,000 years of ignorance of its Jewish nature. The New Testament deserves to be treated as a Jewish book. This in no way denies the good thing the Church has done in preserving the Greek tradition and making New Testaments designed for the cultures in which they are received.

But if Jewish followers of Yeshua had not lapsed into obscurity, the New Testament all along should have had a parallel tradition of Jewish commentary and presentation.

The DHE gospels, coming soon from Vine of David, will present the gospels as a printed Jewish book should be. The cover will reflect modern customs in Jewish publishing. There will be future versions with commentary somewhat in the style of the medieval commentators such as Rashi.

The world, including and especially the Jewish world, need to see the New Testament as a Jewish book. It is Jewish literature. Even the letters to the non-Jewish congregations are letters by Jewish thinkers to gentiles.

Saying the New Testament is a Jewish book in no way is a denial that it is a book for all people. But it is the book of those who came from the Jerusalem community, the mother congregation from which the mission to the gentiles went out. This is the way Luke presents the Jewish gospel becoming the gospel of the nations in Acts. It is how the New Testament can and should be regarded. As Delitzsch did in his day now Vine of David in ours is resurrecting the Jewishness of the gospels and it is an event of historical significance.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, FFOZ, Franz Delitzsch, Gospel, Vine of David, Yeshua, Yeshua In Context. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Yeshua’s Prayer

  1. Pingback: Yeshua’s Prayer | Yeshua in Context

  2. rebyosh says:

    Derek,

    Great post!

    I would also like to see an increase in the liturgical use of this prayer within Messianic circles. Several years ago Beth Emunah (in Agoura Hills, CA) began doing the T’filat La’Adon (the Avinu) following the Amidah. We would often do it both in Hebrew and in English to a liturgical melody. In recent years we began doing alternate versions as well.

    The meaningful inclusion of New Testament liturgy is quite important. In the past, attempts at this were honestly quite terrible. However, as we have progressed in our knowledge of liturgy and familiarity with the themes of Jewish prayer, many people, like Roman La’Voy mentioned above, are again experimenting with New Testament liturgy in a meaningful way. And they are not just hap-hazardly tacking it on, or simply adding the name of Yeshua to everything. But truly intertwining NT thoughts and passages in a very thoughtful and informed manner (which should be done very carefully).

    When this is properly done within the liturgical life of our communities it informs our thinking and theologies, and connects us to an unbroken chain throughout history back to the earliest believers, and to our own people.

  3. wendeth77 says:

    Derek,

    For those who may ask; please explain the difference between not needing it “word for word” but shame on those who take it just as an “example”. I happen to know a couple of people off the top of my head who are going to ask me this, and I do not feel I know enough historically to give a proper answer and I do not feel confident they will truly get the reasoning stated.

    Also, if the benediction was added later-can you explain how this would not be “making stuff up as they go along”- is this because, as you said, it was common after the Shema?

  4. wendeth77 says:

    I’d also like to add…the artist commissioned for the singing of the prayer have done AMAZING. What a blessing!

  5. Wendeth:

    The simplest thing would be for communities to decide to use either form as it comes down to us in Matthew or Luke. Another suggestion would be that any church or Messianic congregation would write the form they prefer, feeling free to slightly deviate in wording.

    But the simplest suggestion of all is that each church or Messianic congregation would follow the tradition that already exists in their history. For example, Baptists, though not prone to regularly cite the Lord’s Prayer, are known to do so at times. The prayer could and should be recited in a form the people are used to. Recently at a Christian wedding, the minister specified, “We’ll recite the version that uses the words ‘debt’ and ‘debtor’.”

    For Messianic congregations and Judeo-Christian groups, I hope that Roman and Alaina’s version with the Delitzsch Hebrew and the DHE English translation will become standard.

    I recommend using the benediction after Yeshua’s prayer (the “For yours is the power . . . “) as it has firm founding in ancient Christian tradition (it is in the Didache and in later manuscripts of Matthew).

    It should be seen not as part of the prayer, but a praise offered after the prayer.

    Derek Leman

  6. wendeth77 says:

    GREAT! thanks…(and sorry, I asked two questions :-) )

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