Monday, June 08, 2009

The Doxology in the Lord's Prayer

During our time together as a family on the Lord's Day, we once again looked at Jesus' teaching on prayer (our 5th week and my kids are still wondering how we are able to dig so much out of one verse). My daughter noticed that her version of the bible (the NKJV) had an ending that neither mine nor my son's had. The NASB's version includes her "variant" in brackets.
Mat 6:13 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]'
So I was forced into a great teaching moment. Why are there variants? Well, I know I am an odd duck for actually attempting to teach my children about the transmission of the Biblical text, but we now live in a society where this is no longer something Christians may remain ignorant, especially with Bart Ehrman's books in full circulation.

Today I received my hard cover edition of Philip W. Comfort's New Testament Text and Translation Commentary. It is just full of great "commentary on the variant readings of the ancient New Testament Manuscripts and how they relate to the major English translations." So now if you are wondering why the newer translations such as the ESV and the NIV have "removed" (speaking like an irrational King James Onlyist) this part of the verse, you will read some very helpful answers, of which I'd like to share a portion from the section dealing with Matthew 6:13.

First, Comfort explains that there are manuscripts that omit the reading. Then he goes on to explain that there are 6 variants of the reading and offers them for you to compare.

Variant 1 has only the "amen".

Variant 2 has "because yours is the power forever."

Variant 3 has "because yours is the power and the glory forever. Amen."

Variant 4 has "because yours is the kingdom and the glory forever. Amen."

Variant 5 has "because yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."

And this is the most fascinating. Variant 6 has "because yours is the kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit forever. Amen."

So what is the explanation for the inclusion of these variants into the text of Scripture? Since most of us live in a historical vacuum, we miss the rich Christian heritage that has given to us the wide manuscript tradition. For instance, most Christians are totally unfamiliar with the Didache. It is a work that circulated during the age of the Apostolic Fathers (church leaders right after the Apostles). Comfort writes that "the longer form [Matthew 6:13] probably came from the Didache (also known as the 'teaching of the Twelve'), which was written in Syria or Palestine during the early second century."

If you are still wondering why this doxology was included into the text of Matthew's Gospel if it was not was not a part of the original autograph, then consider the last portion of Comfort's commentary upon this text.
"...the ending has become so ingrained in Christian tradition that it has not dropped from use in private prayers or in public worship--with the exception of the Roman Catholic churches. When reciting the Lord's Prayer, most Christians do not stop after saying 'but deliver us from evil.' Most go on to say, 'For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.'

Why do people feel compelled to end with this assertive doxology? Probably for the same reason that motivated some early scribes to add it. This profound prayer invites a glorious, uplifting conclusion--especially in oral reading."
As Wesctott and Hort are cited as saying,
[the] doxology originated in liturgical use in Syria, and was thence adopted into the Greek and Syriac Syrian texts of the N.T.
To this day, after having learned quite some time ago that the text is not a part of the original reading, I am still prone to pray in this manner. Why? Am I being unfaithful? No. I am simply moved as most Christians to recognize the wonder of God's sovereign grace in our lives.


Anonymous said...

So your saying it's ok to pray something from the Didakay despite it not being in Holy Scripture? You teach your kids this stuff?

What about other parts of the didakay? Are they ok too?

"But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.

What sacrifice are they talking about here? The Catholics will insist this is the Eucharist, the breaking of the bread? The mass. The 'sacrifice of the altar as the Augustine and others called it.

"And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have not living water, baptize into other water; and if you can not in cold, in warm. But if you have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit."

So the Didakay is telling them how to baptize? Again, the romanists will tell us this sounds like baptism was really important, and not symbolic as is held in our church.

I think you are treading on thin ice reading the historical non-Scriptural writings of the early Christians. How do you decide which ones are ok to read, pray and accept? What if some of their doctrines contradict the reformed view? how do you know what is true if it's not in Holy Scripture?

This may lead some readers to explore other early church writings which as you know has lead some prominent Protestants including Beckwith and Hahn to pope! Be careful with this stuff.

Howard Fisher said...

I must confess Mr/s. Anonymous. I really am lost. You have read far more into what I said than what I said.

The point that was raised was how did the Doxology get into the prayer. It was liturgy, and its influence on textual transmission.

Then I made the statement to which I noticed that we all pray in such a way as to be moved by God's wonderful grace. The Doxology could easily be found in other texts or at least taught in other texts. So is praying that God alone is the King and the Kingdom belongs to Him? I doubt anyone really thinks so, including you.

Also, where in Scripture does it say "God bless grandma and grandpa."? It doesn't. Yet we teach our kids to pray about such things.

Now keep in mind, I am teaching this stuff so that my children understand what is scripture and how we got it. I am not teaching my kids something that is not Scriptural, nor am I saying they must pray the Lord's Prayer with the Doxology. In fact, I am making them aware of the opposite that you are accusing me of. Now my kids are free from the Liturgy of the Didache and are able to pray the Lord's prayer according to what the Apostle's wrote.

As for referring to the Didache, I never said we should oblige ourselves to follow it. To read that understanding into what I said is to go far beyond what I wrote.

Also, I have no problem with reading the writings of the Apostolic Father or the church fathers in general. I have in fact read the Apostolic Fathers and some of the others as I have had time over the years. For instance I have managed to read the first 4 books of the City of God.

As a Protestant, I am not afraid of the fathers. They are no more Roman Catholic than I am. So nice try in attempting to basically say, "to be deep in church history is to become Roman catholic."

Hahn and Beckwith were never true Protestants. I wrote about that sort of thing years ago with the Donut man crossing the Tiber or when Crossed-the-Tiber crossed the Tiber.

If you recall, the Crossed the Tiber guy could not and would not and refused to admit he was wrong about his understanding of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Even when I cited the Reformed Confessions he never seemed to grasp it. (the problems of much of Jack Chick Christianity!)

As a Protestant I can let the fathers be who they were. They were neither Protestant nor RC.

BTW: their writings are about as theologically scattered as any so-called Christian book store today.

So relax. Don't read more than what I said, which we have all done with the Blogging world.

God Bless