Saturday, November 13, 2010

Crossan on the Lord's Prayer: A Prayer for Global Justice

John Dominic Crossan is a well known New Testament scholar. He is no stranger to controversy and has caused quite a few groans and tempers to surface among his colleagues. But whether you agree of disagree with him, he has helped to generate a lot of discussion in relation to the New Testament.

I ran across an article in the LA Times today in which they summarize Crossan's view on the Lord's Prayer. He has a new book coming out in which he examines the well-known prayer. Here is an excerpt from the article.

Crossan calls the Lord's Prayer "a prayer from the heart of Judaism on the lips of Christianity for the conscience of the world."

To understand it, he said, it is necessary to comprehend the culture in which it was written, that of 1st century Judaism. The prayer appears in the New Testament twice, in slightly different forms: In Matthew 6:9-13, and in Luke, 11:2-4. In both cases, it is delivered by Jesus, which helps explain the revered status it holds.

When Jesus' disciples heard the prayer, Crossan said, they would have responded differently than a modern churchgoer. To begin with, he said, the term "Father" — "Abba" in the original Greek or Aramaic — connoted a "householder," one who oversaw the affairs of a family. A householder, he added, would have been judged by how well he provided for everyone.

When the prayer continues with "hallowed be thy name," he said, what it means by "hallowed" is "a fair distribution for all, the justice of an equitable household."

In other words, Crossan said, the prayer is about "distributive justice," about making sure that all are cared for.

"It is revolutionary," he writes, "because it presumes and proclaims the radical vision of justice that is the core of Israel's biblical tradition.… It dreams of an Earth where the Holy One of justice and righteousness actually gets to establish — as we might say — the annual budget for the global economy."
You can read the full story here. Again, whether you agree or disagree he certainly gives us reason to talk.

1 comment:

  1. Funny how he manages to find his own ideology reflected in the text.