"Has there ever been a set of words that has been known by heart by so many people, in so many languages, over so many cultures, and recited so often and for so many centuries as the Lord’s Prayer? Yet its early history is far more complex than most realize. In this book, Clark deploys meticulous historical scholarship to look at its origins, contexts, and early use in such a way that our appreciation of the prayer—a central element in the common identity and life of Christians—is renewed and enhanced."
Convinced that we can no longer have direct, unmediated access to the sense of Jesus’s prayer but must account for the history of its “effects,” David Clark seeks to trace the meaning of one of Christianity’s most repeated, and thus most “effective” texts through the early centuries of the faith. Clark begins by arguing that the prayer’s original context was in a revival of Jewish prayer, then sets it in the literary context of Gospels that, he argues, represented Jesus as recapitulating Israel’s testing in the wilderness in his own temptation. He then traces the prayer’s meaning within the narratives of Matthew and Luke and in the Didache, then examines the first full commentary on the prayer, that of Tertullian in the third century CE. Clark attends to the evolution of ideas and themes embodied in the prayer and of the understanding of prayer itself across epic transitions, from Judaism to the teaching of Jesus, from Jesus to the Gospels, and from the Gospels to earliest self- consciously “catholic” Christianity. This is an engaging narrative of the history behind and reception of the Lord’s Prayer; it illustrates how a text’s reception may help us explore and understand the multivalent meaning of the text itself.
- Publisher Fortress Press
- Format Paperback
- ISBN 9781506414386
- eBook ISBN 9781506414393
- Dimensions 6 x 9
- Pages 244
- Publication Date April 1, 2017
1. A Prayer Revival
2. Prayer and Covenant Renewal
3. Matthew’s Vision of Heaven and Earth
4. Order and Chaos in the Didache
5. Luke on Prayer
6. Tertullian: “Prayer Alone Conquers God”
Appendix: Praying the Lord’s Prayer
Clark deploys meticulous historical scholarship to look at its origins, contexts, and early use in such a way that our appreciation of the Lord's prayer is renewed and enhanced.
With fresh and pleasant prose, David Clark provides a thoughtful Christian application of the Gadamerian understanding of reception history to the Lord’s Prayer.
"With fresh and pleasant prose, David Clark provides a thoughtful Christian application of the Gadamerian understanding of reception history to the Lord’s Prayer, honoring the value of both the historical situation of the original composition and the history of its effects in the first two centuries of the church. A delight to read from beginning to end!"
Clark's insights tie our contemporary faith into the legacy of those who have preceded us.
“David Clark has done a rich service to twenty-first-century followers of Jesus. His brilliant and intriguing tour along varying paths that Christians have followed while interpreting and practicing—both liturgically and devotionally—the Lord’s Prayer is far more than historical; his insights tie our contemporary faith into the legacy of those who have preceded us. Clark’s research reveals the Lord’s Prayer as one unending 'worship service' two thousand years in length and counting. It’s a single, simple piece of genetic code linking us all, those alive on earth with those alive in Eternity, as one family under 'Our Father.'"