120 Parallels

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This page forms part of the resources for 120 The Lords Prayer in the Jesus Database project of FaithFutures Foundation

Crossan Inventory | 120 Literature | 120 Parallels | 120 Commentary | 120 Poetry | 120 Images


Rabbinic literature

Samuel T. Lachs, Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament [117-24] lists three (not two) NT texts as sources for the Lord’s Prayer:

  • Matt 6:9-15
  • Luke 11:2-4
  • Mark 11:25

The passage from Mark comprises just the saying on forgiveness, but notice the several points at which this brief saying provides a Marcan parallel to the Q Prayer (as Taussig describes the more developed Paternoster):

And whenever you stand praying,

forgive, if you have anything against anyone,
so that you Father also who is in heaven

may forgive you your trespasses.

On the question of influences from Jewish liturgical prayers (such as the Shemoneh Esreh, the Eighteen Benedictions, or the Kaddish) Lachs observes as follows:

Neither of these theories is satisfactory and both are highly tenuous. It is appealing at first blush to see the Lord’s Prayer as a miniature Shemoneh Esreh. Both were to be recited three times by the faithful. Furthermore, the structure of the Shemoneh Esreh is tripartite, consisting of three benedictions of praise, twelve (thirteen) benedictions of petition, and three concluding benedictions of thanksgiving. One can easily discern the same tripartite division in the Matthean version of the Paternoster. Most New Testament scholars recognize that the Paternoster in its original form goes back to earlier times and is not the invention of the evangelists. The Shemoneh Esreh, however, emerges as the prayer par excellence only at the end of the first Christian century during the patriarchate of Rabban Gamaliel II. Furthermore, the Lord’s Prayer is so scant that to see in it a mini-Shemoneh Esreh is imaginative. Finally, the observation of a tripartite division fails, since the best MSS of the NT the last line, i.e., a liturgical endings of the Lord’s Prayer, is lacking. The Kaddish, too, fails as a model for the Lord’s Prayer, for the similarity of a few phrases is hardly enough to warrant this hypothesis.

Instead, Lachs proposes to find the explanation of the Paternoster in informal Jewish prayers:

The key to the understanding of the Lord’s Prayer is its simplicity and its brevity, as evidenced by the warning against verbosity and repetitions in prayer which precedes it in Matt. 6.7-8 (not also the substance of v. 8 in 5.32). It belongs to a genre of prayer called in Hebrew tephillah qezarah, “short prayer,” which, in tannaitic sources, designated a prayer to be recited in a place of danger. Unlike the Shemoneh Esreh, which is a set liturgical form, the “short prayer” has individuality and variety. The following are several examples of the genre.
Rabbi Joshua says: “He who is traveling in a place of danger should pray a short prayer, saying, ‘Save, O Lord, the remnant of Your people at every crossroad [others: whenever they transgress], let their needs be before You. Blessed are You who hears prayer.’” [M.Ber. 4.4]

If one is traveling in a place of danger or of robbers, he should pray a short prayer. What is a short prayer? Rabbi Eleazar says: “Perform Your will in heaven and bestow satisfaction on earth upon those who revere You, and do that which is good in Your sight. Blessed are You who hears prayer.” [T. Ber. 3.2]

Rabbi Eleazar bar Zadok says: “hear the sound of the cry of Your people Israel and speedily grant their petition. Blessed are You who hears prayer.” [T.Ber. 3.2]

These ancient Jewish “arrow prayers” seem rather akin to the kind of things Hal Taussig suggests in his book. If the Paternoster is a compilation of classic short prayers attributed to Jesus, we may indeed be getting close to his own practice (whether as the author of the prayer fragments or simply an appreciative user of traditional phrases) as a Spirit person or prophetic sage whose way of praying was not constrained to formal opportunities and may even have been intentionally in opposition to the organized religion of his own society. (Of course, that latter description may be too much like seeing our own reflections in the bottom of the well ...)

SATOR-ROTAS word square

The SATOR-ROTAS has been thought to provide early evidence of the Lord's Prayer in Latin, but this remains under discussion.


The following poems originated as contributions to the Hodos online community by Gene Stecher. It is published with Gene's consent but he explicitly retains full rights as the creative author. You welcome to use it for personal study and worship, but it should not be published in any other form without the author's prior consent.


Abba on the lips of Jesus
    Abba revered in human hearts
        Abba ruling over his personal space
           [Abba, a deaf ear for cup removing]
        Abba, a distributor of bread
    Abba, a manager of debt.

Abba on the lips of followers
    Abba, the inheritance grantor.
       Abba, adopting from slave ranks
            Abba, granting glory on condition
               [Abba, retesting his children]
            Abba, faithful to the sufferer.

Revered Abba,
    Create a freedom condition
       [by our suffering, if it must be]
            where principles for bread and debt
               provide feasting for the hungry
            and release for the debtor
as the daily norm.


Today's Bread

Mt 6:11

ton arton emon ton epiousion dos emin semeron
the bread of us the necessary give us today
the loaf   daily   this very day
    for following day    
    for future    


Give to starvers today the loaf which they need
    Give it to them everyday, don't miss out on any.
Give to them tomorrow's loaf this very day.
    Do you recall that your hired hands eat daily?

[Lk 5:17]

Give starvers today what they need to survive.
    Please add the twenty four hour insurance rider.
You know everything about insurance riders.
    We possess quite a list from you very own lips.
The assassin tested his strength in advance.
    The manager arranged for favors to be called in.
The widow constantly filled the judge's mind.
    And woe to the pour slave burying your coins.

[Th 98, Lk 16:1, Lk 18:2, Lk 19:13]

Insurance riders and expectations are similar,
    And you are real good at creating expectations,
You who supply bread-seed to him who sows,
    Who would give chilren loaves instead of stones.

[2 Cor 9:10, Mt 7:10]

The leaven is supposed to do something,
    some future greatness from the mustard seed.
The Sower's seed yearns for the harvest,
    yet the stone of anxiety won't hurry that loaf

[Lk 13:20, Th 20:2, Mk 4:26, Lk 12:25]

This child demands the insurance policy.
    Jesus' screams from the cross demanded it.
The left over bread proves the possibility.
    Get miracle dough at Mamre, not from rocks.

[Mk 8:19, Gen 18, Mk 4:3]

Abuse us not with Patron whims and egos.
    There's still potential in a healing-for-food trade.
Give the starvers food and they will heal you.
    Reciprocity is not bound by the midnight hour.

[Mk 6:8, Lk 11:5]



An improvement upon JBap eating no bread,
    Jesus himself the fleshy bread of life
recognized at the meal table while serving
    loaves to unwashed field wanderers.

[Lk 7:33, Jn 6:35, 51; 1 Cor 10:16, Lk 24:30, 35;
Jn 21:9, 13; Mk 2:26, 7:2]

    to generous children
    to leading purity advocates
    to kissing betrayers
    to freed slaves

[Jn 6:9, Lk 14:1, Jn 13:18, Jn 6:31]

Going from house to house
    and leavening with one another is
more powerful than Pharisaic,
    Sadducean, Herodian leavening.
This time, prostitutes and poor
    are served by the toll collectors.

[Acts 2:46, Mk 8:15, Mt 16:11]

Who was this damned fool who changed the policy,
    "nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it,"

[2 Thess 3:8]


Forgiveness for Forgiveness

In the Kingdom of Commandments
    Creditor and debtor are equalized by the
divine scorched earth policy,
    as they face down God's forgiving readiness,
mired together in law breaking
    along with the people/priest,

[Isa 24:2-3, Neh 9:17: NRSV]

In the Kingdom where God's finger rules,
    look for grazing the edge of law breaking
to be admired for forgiving debt.
    The disease that condemns to the jail pit
is not passing along the torch.

[Lk 11:20, 16:8a; Mt 18:33]

Tax Collectors, "Charge official rates,"
    but seeking Jesus' favor,
        old Zach blurted out that
the poor could have half of his profits
    and extortion returns
        would be quadrupled. 

[Lk 3:13, 19:8]

Debt forgiveness requires community trust,
    "Whomever you forgive,
        I forgive."
Try your patience with up to seventy-seven
     bestowals of freedom
        to sin no more.

[2 Cor 2:10, Mt 18:22, Jn 8:11]

Sin?  I thought that we were talking about debt.
Now how is it that we've gone from debt to sin? 
What's the easier thing to say to this paralytic,
    "Your sins are forgiven," or,
" Here's the deed. I've just redeemed your land." ** 
    And Zach spit through the needle's eye.

[Mk 2:1-12, 10:25]

**Many thanks to Keith for sharing this definition of redemption with the group.


Save us from the time time of trial

Test? Temptation? Ordeal? Trial?

First you tempt me (Lk 4:1-13) with
    making a change in the stone and bread laws,
daring my ego to splat on the temple floor,
    and striving for power which enslaves nations.

Then you entice me to
    constantly associate with a very distrustful lot,
endure sign obsessed purity freaks,
    and be baited with the language of entrapment.

(Mk 4:40, 9:19; Mk 8:11; Mk 12:13)

Then you entwine me in pain and ecstasy:

    Remove the drinking of this cup of
        crucified agony and humiliation,
    Do not rescue me from the hour of
    glory to the name of the Father.

(Mk 14:36, Jn 12:27-28)

And all along you knew Wisdom's desire:

    Abandon me not to another's whim, and
        do not send me into ruin.
    Do not reject me from your children, and
        desert me not in my ordeal.

[The thoughts of HJ are interrupted.
    The footsteps of the arrest party, Teacher.
Damn! Thy will be done on earth.
    Delerious screams of a forsaken wretch.]

(Mk 15:34)

Fleeing from the tomb,
    a blend of terror and excitement,
one's pants are wet
    and soiled under either option,
a vague echo of the loss
    of control required by God's test.

(Mk 16:8)

What control must I relinquish to
    be a bread distributor
        make use of the temple
    use power productively
        embrace the untrusting
    endure apocalypticism
        avoid the fruitless debate
    accept pain with victory.