The Lord's Prayer = NO Oral Tradition

Dec 2011
586
Perth
Greetings all :)

The "Lord's Prayer" was allegedly taught directly from Jesus' mouth to the ears of his followers. The very epitome of a critical piece of oral tradition - what could be more important than the very words of Jesus Christ himself ?!
Surely the oral tradition would have carefully and accurately preserved this crucial nugget of Jesus' personal teaching ?

Not so.
The opposite is true - the Lord's Prayer is one of the MOST variant pieces of all NT texts.
Here is a list of various versions from the very earliest Christian times :

#1 - G.Matthew (c.85, Greek)

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Amen.


#2 - G.Luke (c.85, Greek)

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.
Amen.


#3 - Didakhe (c.100, Greek)

Our Father, who are in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debt, as we also forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,
For yours is the power and the glory for ever and ever.
Amen.


#4 - Tertullian (c.200, Latin)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debt, as we also forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Amen.


#5 - Origen (c.230, Greek)

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth also as in heaven.
Give us today our needful bread,
and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And bring us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
Amen.


#6 - Cyprian (c.250, Latin)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debt, as we also forgive our debtors.
And suffer us not, to be lead into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Amen.


#7 - Variant Doxology

A few MSS add "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, of the father, the son, and the holy spirit for ever."

#8,9,10 - Varying Doxologies

A few MSS exclude the words "the power" or "the glory" or "the kingdom".

Finally these many variations (some slight, some large) were resolved into several English versions, with this being a common one :

Modern Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
Amen.


Conclusion:

There was no oral tradition preserving the words of the alleged Historical Jesus Christ.


Kapyong
 

jackydee

Ad Honorem
Jan 2013
4,569
Brigadoon
Im speaking as a layman on this. But can't the differences in texts be explained precisely by an oral tradition? It's how I would expect an oral tradition to be passed down; in various mangled forms.
 

abram

Ad Honorem
Oct 2014
2,181
oklahoma
Greetings all :)


Not so.
The opposite is true - the Lord's Prayer is one of the MOST variant pieces of all NT texts.
Here is a list of various versions from the very earliest Christian times :

Conclusion:

There was no oral tradition preserving the words of the alleged Historical Jesus Christ.


Kapyong
The passages you provided seem to confirm an oral tradition. They're very similar in thoughts but put it in somewhat different, but consistent, wording.
 
Nov 2015
98
Connecticut
Besides, the context of those words show that they were not meant to be recited word for word.

(Matthew 6:7, 8) . . .When praying, do not say the same things over and over again as the people of the nations do, for they imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words. 8 So do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need even before you ask him.

They were merely a model for how to pray and what priority to place on what you pray for: The sanctification of his name, that is the clearing from his name from all slander and the establishment of his rightful rule over the earth above all things.
 
Dec 2011
586
Perth
Gday Belgarion :)

(Classic fantasy book, back in the day :))

How does this prayer reconcile with the church of the holy warming? :lol:
Clear forecast of an up-swelling of lots of hot air.

When all is said and done, more is said than done :D


Kapyong
 
Dec 2011
586
Perth
Gday jackydee and abram and all :)

Im speaking as a layman on this. But can't the differences in texts be explained precisely by an oral tradition? It's how I would expect an oral tradition to be passed down; in various mangled forms.
Well, if this is the Oral Tradition in action, then I think it's a very LoFidelity reproduction :)

#2 - G.Luke (c.85, Greek)
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.
Amen.

Modern Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
Amen.
The purple shows apparent additions - that's quite a large proportion. And that's the BEST reproduction we could expect - Jesus' own words.


How about a few more clearer examples of the Oral Tradition failing to deliver the facts to the later NT writers -


The oral tradition failed to accurately record the names of the apostles - we have various slightly different lists, with twisties like Peter called 'Simon' whose name is 'Stephen' but he's called 'David' ;)

The oral tradition failed to record the date or even YEAR of Jesus' birth - leaving us with two contradictory accounts ten years apart.

The oral tradition failed to record correctly who Cephas and Peter were - early Christians thought Cephas and Peter were different people, but later there were considered the same person.

The oral tradition failed to record the (alleged) words of God himself at the baptism - early Christians quote 'this is my son, this day have I begotten thee', but later it becomes 'this is my son, in thee I am well pleased' (because of arguments over dogma.)

The oral tradition failed to record the alleged last words of Jesus on the cross - we have different versions in the Gospels.

The oral tradition failed to record the genealogy of Jesus - we have different versions in the Gospels.

The oral tradition failed in many ways to record what happened on that first Easter morning - as Dan Barker's Easter Challenge has shown clearly - the Gospels have completely different stories.

The oral tradition failed to record the birth stories - the Gospels tell totally different stories.


That's not an Oral Tradition.
It's religious literature.


Kapyong
 
Dec 2011
586
Perth
Gday Fictitious and all :)

Besides, the context of those words show that they were not meant to be recited word for word.
(Matthew 6:7, 8) . . .When praying, do not say the same things over and over again as the people of the nations do, for they imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words. 8 So do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need even before you ask him.
Sorry, I don't think that is what is meant there at all.

Here is the relevant passage :
7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9“This, then, is how you should pray:
“ ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,...
Your passage 'do not say the same things over and over again' is translated variously as :
do not keep on babbling like pagans
do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do,
do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do
use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do
don't babble like the idolaters,
This means - don't babble, instead you should pray like this (Lord's Prayer.)

It does NOT mean vary the Lord's Prayer every time you say it.


Kapyong
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,417
Welsh Marches
I agree with jackydee on this, the variations are exactly what one would expect for a prayer transmitted in the oral tradition; and the basic ideas are in fact quite consistent. It is not characteristic for an exact form of words to transmitted without variation in an oral tradition, that would on the contrary suggest that the item was being copied within a written tradition. What matters to the people transmitting a prayer like this is the underlying ideas not the exact form of words, and one knows from everyday life how words soon get varied as they are passed on from one person to another. (I could provide any numbers of parallels from the Greek tradition to show how a saying attributed to a sage or famous person came to be recorded in somewhat different forms, while the basic thought was preserved; that shows that the apophthegm was handed down in the oral tradition before being put into writing, although it does not of itself prove anything about the ultimate origin of the saying.)
 
Last edited:
Aug 2016
247
The United States
Well, if this is the Oral Tradition in action, then I think it's a very LoFidelity reproduction :)

#2 - G.Luke (c.85, Greek)
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.
Amen.

Modern Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
Amen.
The purple shows apparent additions - that's quite a large proportion. And that's the BEST reproduction we could expect - Jesus' own words.
You seem to be forgetting G Matthew for this one.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Amen.


The main addition is is that last line, as the other three additions seem to just be reconciliations between the two versions. This means that our current version is the inheritor of two divergent traditions of Jesus's words, rather than conclusive evidence that there was no tradition of Jesus's words.