Crossan - The Greatest Prayer - Кроссан - Величайшая молитва

Crossan - The Greatest Prayer
The Lords Prayer is Christianity’s greatest prayer. It is also Christianity’s strangest prayer. It is prayed by all Christians, but it never mentions Christ. It is prayed in all churches, but it never mentions church. It is prayed on all Sundays, but it never mentions Sunday. It is called the “Lord’s Prayer,” but it never mentions “Lord.” It is prayed by fundamentalist Christians, but it never mentions the inspired inerrancy of the Bible, the virgin birth, the miracles, the atoning death, or bodily resurrection of Christ.
It is prayed by evangelical Christians, but it never mentions the epangelium, or gospel. It is prayed by Pentecostal Christians, but it never mentions ecstasy or the Holy Spirit. It is prayed by Congregational, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Roman Catholic Christians, but it never mentions congregation, priest, bishop, or pope. It is prayed by Christians who split from one another over this or that doctrine, but it never mentions a single one of those doctrines.
It is prayed by Christians who focus on Christ’s substitutionary sacrificial atonement for human sin, but it never mentions Christ, substitution, sacrifice, atonement, or sin. It is prayed by Christians who focus on the next life in heaven or in hell, but it never mentions the next life, heaven, or hell. It is prayed by Christians who emphasize what it never mentions and also prayed by Christians who ignore what it does.
You could respond, of course, that there is nothing strange there at all. It is, you might say, a Jewish prayer from the Jewish Jesus; hence nothing Christian or even Jewish Christian is present. But that only invites us to start the question of strangeness all over again. It does not mention covenant or law, Temple or Torah, circumcision or purity, and so on. What if the Lords Prayer is neither a Jewish prayer for Jews nor yet a Christian prayer for Christians?
What if it is—as this book suggests—a prayer from the heart of Judaism on the lips of Christianity for the conscience of the world? What if it is—as this book suggests—a radical manifesto and a hymn of hope for all humanity in language addressed to all the earth? The Lord’s Prayer is, for me, both a revolutionary manifesto and a hymn of hope. It is revolutionary, because it presumes and proclaims the radical vision of justice that is the core of Israels biblical tradition.
It is a hymn, because it presumes and produces poetic techniques that are the core of Israel’s biblical poetry. In ordinary everyday language the word “justice” has come primarily, if not exclusively, to mean retributive justice, that is, punishment. For example, I was working on this Prologue while in Denver on September 27, 2009. The Denver Posts Sunday headline was about “DUI Justice,” and it discussed whether punishments were fairly and equally imposed on all accused persons.
That headline took for granted that most readers would see the word “justice” and correctly understand that it meant punishment—judicial punishment, but punishment nonetheless. But the primary meaning of “justice” is not retributive, but distributive. To be just means to distribute everything fairly. The primary meaning of “justice” is equitable distribution of whatever you have in mind—even if that is retribution or punishment. Do not think this is some game with words. Here is what is at stake.
The biblical tradition speaks of God as a God of “justice and righteousness״ (Ps. 99:4; Isa. 33:5; Jer. 9:24). Those two words express the same content. A God of “justice and righteousness״ is a God who does what is just by doing what is right and does what is right by doing what is just. The redundant phrase proclaims that Gods world must be distributed fairly and equitably among all God’s people.
Whenever, then, I use the term “justice״ with respect to the biblical tradition, Jesus, or the Lord’s Prayer, it will be distributive justice I have almost exclusively in mind. When the biblical tradition proclaims that revolutionary vision of distributive justice, it is imagining neither liberal democratic principles nor universal human rights. Instead, its vision derives from the common experience of a well-run home, household, or family farm. If you walked into one, how would you judge the householder? Are the fields well tended?
Are the animals properly provisioned? Are the buildings adequately maintained? Are the children and dependents well fed, clothed, and sheltered? Are the sick given special care? Are responsibilities and returns apportioned fairly? Do all have enough? Especially that: Do all have enough? Or, to the contrary, do some have far too little while others have far too much? It is that vision of the well-run household, of the home fairly, equitably, and justly administered, that the biblical tradition applies to God.
God is the Householder of the world house, and all those preceding questions must be repeated on a global and cosmic scale. Do all Gods children have enough? If not—and the biblical answer is “not”—how must things change here below so that all God’s people have a fair, equitable, and just proportion of God’s world? The Lord’s Prayer proclaims that necessary change as both revolutionary manifesto and hymn of hope. Do not, by the way, let anyone tell you that is Liberalism, Socialism, or Communism. It is—if you need an -ism—Godism, House-holdism or, best of all, Enoughism. We sometimes name that biblical vision of God’s World-Household as Egalitarianism but, actually, Enoughism would be a more accurate description.

John Dominic Crossan - The Greatest Prayer

Джон Доминик Кроссан - Величайшая молитва
Publishers – HarperOne – 208  /2010y.
ISBN 978-0-06-187567-0

John Dominic Crossan - The Greatest Prayer - Джон Доминик Кроссан - Величайшая молитва - Contents

  • Prologue: The Strangest Prayer
  • 1 Pray Then in This Way
  • 2 Our Father in Heaven
  • 3 Hallowed Be Your Name
  • 4 Your Kingdom Come
  • 5 Your Will Be Done on Earth
  • 6 Give Us Our Daily Bread
  • 7 Forgive Us Our Debts
  • 8 Lead Us Not into Temptation
  • Epilogue: The Strangest Book
  • Appendix
  • Notes
  • Further Reading

John Dominic Crossan - The Greatest Prayer - Our father in Heaven

Her name was Babatha and she lived in Maoza, on the southern tip of Israel’s Dead Sea coast. She was illiterate, wealthy, and financially very competent, moving easily within the multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual, and multilegal matrix of Arabs and Jews, Greeks and Romans in her peaceful local world. Her first husband, Jesus, died in 124 CE, leaving her with an infant son of the same name. She married again, but in 130 CE her second husband, Judah, also died. We know about Judah from an extant contract in which he was lent sixty denarii—at a time when a days labor cost about one denarius—by the centurion Magonius Valens. He was an officer of the First Thracian Cohort stationed at En-gedi on the mid-western coast of the Dead Sea, and he charged Judah an annual 12 percent interest.
But soon afterward, Roman soldiers were no longer lending money to Jewish merchants, as everything changed utterly between Romans and Jews in the Jewish homeland. In 132 CE Bar Kosiba rose in revolt against Rome, and that peaceful coexistence was brutally shattered, as the legionaries recaptured Jericho and headed south along the western shore of the Dead Sea. Babatha, along with some friends and relatives, fled south of En־gedi to a cave high on the sheer walls of the Nahal Hever, a narrow canyonlike wadi carved out by the rainy seasons’ often violent runoff, but quite dry most of the year. Babatha and her companions chose a large three-room cave on the northern escarpment of the wadi, while others found hiding in another cave on its southern side.
They probably thought the Romans would not find them, or would ignore them, or would be unable to attack them. But the Roman soldiers did find them, and two squads set up their camps—with remnants still visible today—atop both sides of the wadi. They could easily signal across to each other, and they cut off all escape from the caves below. They waited above and starved the refugees to death. In the 1950s and 1960s Israeli archaeologists excavated the south-side cave, and in that “Cave of Horrors” they found dozens of skeletons— children, women, and men. In 1962 Yigael Yadin explored the north- side “Cave of Letters” and found some valuable household utensils and cosmetic items belonging to Babatha. But, then he found her precious legal archives hidden in a crevice and covered with a stone. The cache of thirty-five documents was wrapped in palm fronds and, for this chapter’s overture, I focus on one litigation within it.
When Babatha’s first husband, Jesus, died in 124 CE, he left four hundred denarii as a trust fund for their infant son, Jesus. Since Babatha was now a widow with a young orphaned son and no patriarchal “protection,” the council of the provincial capital at Petra appointed two male guardians to administer the paternal inheritance. For eight years, from 124 to 132 BCE, Babatha fought those two male guardians in court over the inadequacy of their monthly return from loaning out the money in that fund. They were paying her only an annual 6 percent, when a normal return should have been 12 per- cent. She claimed that if she herself took over and posted bond for the fund’s administration, she could get an annual return of 18 percent. But she never won her case before she ran out of time.
The skeletons of seventeen people were finally found in the “Cave of Letters”—eight women, six children, and three men—and, presumably, Babatha’s bones were among them. Despite her undoubted financial competence, she never got her way in a patriarchal world of Roman law. She finally hid her documents beneath that stone in the cave where, again presumably, she met her death. When, in this chapter, we speak of mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, widows and orphans, patriarchal bias and exclusive language, think always of Babatha as she hovers in the background throughout our discussion. She will be especially present—as a single mother—whenever our biblical texts speak as if the only competent householder is a father or at least a male. The very first words of the Lord s Prayer are literally “Father of us” in the Greek of Matthew 6:9.
It is simply “Father” in Luke 11:2. It was, as we saw in the last chapter, “Abba, the Father” in the earlier Aramaic-Greek combination of Paul and Mark. The problem is immediately obvious. How can the “greatest prayer” open with a male- oriented title and a patriarchal mode of address? Why give God a humanlike and male-only name? Would a nonhuman-like name not be better—say “Spirit,” or “Creator,” or even simply “God”? And, if one wishes a humanlike title, why not “Mother” rather than “Father” or “Parent” rather than either? Seventy years ago, for example, James Joyce gave us this Islamic-Christian feminine version in Finnegan's Wake: “In the name of Annah the Almaziful, the Everliving, the bringer of Plurabilities, haloed be her eve, her singtime sung, her rill be run, unhemmed as it is uneven!” (104.1-3).
Whether outside or inside Christianity, how can the “greatest prayer” address God as “Father”? I grant immediately that “Father” is applied to God from within a traditional and patriarchal society, but in probing that address this chapter considers three points. First, I look at the role and power of metaphor in general, but especially in religion and theology. Can we ever imagine God except in metaphor—whether it is named or un- named, overt or covert, conscious or unconscious? And is it not wiser to have our deepest divine image publicly expressed, so it can be recognized, discussed, criticized, and maybe even replaced? But dare we replace it without knowing its original meaning and content? Second, what other equally humanlike and male-oriented names for God were not used when “Father” was chosen?
“Father” is not, after all, the only male image possible in a patriarchal society. What about God as warrior king, as just judge, or, much later, as feudal lord? Why “Father”? Finally, what was the meaning and content of “Father” then and how should we interpret it today? If we continue to use it, what should we intend by it? That is surely the most important question. When the title “Father” was used by Jesus and Paul, what did they mean by that metaphor? I begin with a consideration of metaphor itself. Metaphor is seeing as; it is imagining and describing one thing as if it were another. Even before proceeding, notice how weird that is. Why not speak of each thing as itself? Why not call a spade a spade? Why not always speak clearly and literally, as we at least attempt to do with food recipes, road directions, and user manuals?
Keep that question at the back of your mind throughout this section. And keep, along with it, the sug- gestion of the great Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges that “it may be that universal history is the history of a handful of metaphors.” Is it possible that we can never escape metaphors, the small ones we readily recognize and the huge ones we do not even notice as such but simply call reality? We think we understand metaphor. When we say, “The clouds sail across the sky,” we recognize that we are imagining the sky as sea and the clouds as sailboats. We would probably be annoyed if a pedantic literalist said that they were not “sailing,” but simply moving. Or if somebody argued that As the World Turns is linguistically more ac curate than The Sun Also Rises, When a friend collapses into a chair saying, “Im dead,” we do not call either doctor or coroner.
We recognize metaphor and would do so even if our friend had announced, “Гт literally dead.” But despite, or maybe because of, the daily deluge (yes, there’s another metaphor) of standard metaphorical language, strange things happen to our ideas about metaphor as we move into religious, theological, and especially biblical areas. On the one hand, the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European Enlightenment (that’s a metaphor, by the way) correctly “enlightened” us on the necessity of observation and experimentation in the physical sciences and the value of reason and debate, proof and repetition in science and technology. In that process, the dead hand of inquisitional power and the cold gaze of ecclesiastical control were removed from spheres about which they knew too little and claimed too much.


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