Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Baptist’s Prayer

I'm intrigued by the idea that the Lord's Prayer originated with John. Joan Taylor argues this in The Immerser: John the Baptist Within Second Temple Judaism, pp 151-153, and I'm a bit surprised her view isn't more commonly held. In Luke (11:1) the "Our Father" prayer is prefaced by the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray "as John taught his disciples". The Greek wording, as Taylor notes, could mean that the disciples are asking to be taught "just as" or "exactly as" John's disciples were taught. The Lord's Prayer, furthermore, would fit well with the message of John no less than Jesus'. And I agree that it's hard to see why Luke would want to invent this idea (Matthew's parallel account lacks this reference) which makes it look like the savior is copy-catting John.

Taylor's suggestion prompts the more general question: if the Lord's Prayer came from John, what else did? Did John speak in parables? Address Torah issues? Have certain ideas about taxation? One wonders. Jesus surely had plenty of novelty, but I suspect that his mentor left his mark on him more deeply, and in more ways, than usually assumed.


Blogger Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, Ph.D. said...

I'd like to address your comment, ". . . . I suspect that his mentor [i.e., John the Baptist] left his mark on him [Jesus] more deeply, and in more ways, than usually assumed." It must be recognized that there are similarities in content between the message of John and that of Jesus, e.g., "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" in the mouth of John (Matt 3:1,2) and Jesus (Matt 4:17) and the severe rebukes of the Pharisees by John (Matt 3:7-10) and by Jesus (Matt chapter 23). But to call John the Baptist the "mentor" of Jesus is going much too far. The difference in their ages was only about six months, so John had no seniority to speak of. Certainly John's remark at Jesus' baptism sets the record straight: "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" (Matt 3:14). There is no reliable evidence that Jesus was a disciple of John; rather, they are both depicted as disciplers, and here, too, John defers to Jesus (John 3:26-30).

Lawrence J. Mykytiuk
History Bibliographer
Purdue University

Blogger Loren Rosson III said...

Thanks for commenting, Lawrence, but we won't see eye-to-eye much here. John's remark in Matthew (3:14) is almost certainly apologetic, just as the other gospel writers deal with the embarassment of the baptism in different ways (Luke placing John in jail at the time of the baptism, the fourth gospel writer removing the baptism altogether, etc). There are indeed good grounds for viewing John as a mentor of Jesus, even if only generally speaking, and even if they eventually came to see themselves as working together in unison as prophetic agents.

The similarities you cite between the two men are well known and appreciated by many. I'm suggesting there may be even more.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree. I believe the Lord's Prayer does not originated from John's.

when the deciple asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He said "When you pray, say:......." He did not say "When you pray, use John's style........"

And when the deciple said "...just as John taught his deciples."
He did not say "...just as (what) John taught his deciples."

Just my 20cents..


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