Christians around the world recite the "Lord's Prayer" daily, but what exactly are they praying for - and what relationship does it have with Jesus' own context? Jeffrey B. Gibson reviews scholarship that derives the so-called Lord's Prayer from Jewish synagogal prayers and refutes it. The genre of the prayer, he shows, is petitionary, and understanding its intent requires understanding Jesus' purpose in calling disciples as witnesses against "this generation." Jesus did not mean to teach a unique understanding of God; the prayer had its roots in first-century Jewish movements of protest.
In context, Gibson shows (pace Schweitzer, Lohmeyer, Davies, Allison, and a host of other scholars) that the prayer had little to do with "calling down" into the present realities of "the age to come." Rather, it was meant to protect disciples from the temptations of their age and, thus, to strengthen their countercultural testimony. Gibson's conclusions offer new insights into the historical Jesus and the movement he sought to establish.
Jeffrey B. Gibson is adjunct instructor of humanities and religious studies at Harry S. Truman College in Chicago, Illinois. A graduate of the University of Oxford, he is the author of The Temptations of Jesus in Early Christianity (1995) and has published articles and reviews in the Journal of Theological Studies, The Bible Translator, The Expository Times, Religion, The Journal for the Study of the New Testament, The Dictionary of New Testament Background, Eerdman's Dictionary of the Bible, and The Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus.
Jeffrey Gibson takes the praying of the Lord's Prayer so seriously that he wrestles with what pray-ers of the prayer are actually praying for. He frames his answer in terms of discovering Jesus' intention for the prayer and argues that it concerns discipleship, and that disciples of Jesus pray it to secure God's aid to assist them in being faithful to God's ways. This is an insightful and stimulating contribution.
Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University
One could be forgiven for thinking that, when it comes to such familiar and oft-studied words as those of the Lord's Prayer, little new could be said, and any new proposals would most likely be wrong, if not indeed far-fetched. Yet in his book, The Disciples' Prayer, Jeffrey Gibson not only offers new and compelling interpretations of the prayer and its background but even suggests that the very designation we have been using for the prayer is off target and has led to us misunderstanding it in important ways. As if that weren't enough, he manages to do this with a focus that is exegetical and scholarly, and yet also keeps an eye on what it means for Christians to actually pray this prayer. Gibson's book may revolutionize not just New Testament scholarship's understanding of this famous prayer, but the prayer life of the contemporary church as well.
-James F. McGrath,
One might be forgiven for questioning the need for yet another book on the Lord's Prayer, but that question is answered confidently by Jeffrey Gibson's book, The Disciples' Prayer. His analysis of what is most likely the original setting of this prayer is both exhaustive and impressive. Gibson's interpretation of 'The Disciples' Prayer' as a part of Jesus' efforts to instruct the disciples in maintaining faithfulness to God deserves a wide readership.
Jeffrey Gibson brings years of experience as a careful biblical scholar to analyze this famous prayer. The Disciples' Prayer will no doubt become the standard, go-to work on this much-debated topic. This will be deservedly so, for it is an excellent and reliable resource for both scholars and students.
University of Sheffield