Doxology

Cover, A Christian Guide to Spirituality

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matt 6:13 KJV)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Newer translations of the Bible exclude the doxology: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” [1]. Why?

Jesus gave the disciples the Lord’s Prayer to teach them how to pray, not as an obligatory prayer. Three times Jesus repeats the phrase: “when you pray” (Matt 6:5-7). Then, he simply said: “Pray then like this” (Matt 6:9). Jesus offers a pattern for prayer which can be adjusted as needed. The early church loved this prayer and took this advice seriously. The most common addition was to add a doxology and the word, amen, which means so be it. Consequently, this addition does not appear in the earliest manuscripts even though churches continue to use it today.

When the reformers began examining the original Greek texts in the fifteenth century, Saint Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible had been used almost exclusively for a thousand years. The Greek New Testament manuscripts immediately available in local libraries were assembled and translated in English, German, French, and other European languages. Much later, however, when scholars began to compare the thousands of Greek manuscripts available throughout the world’s churches and libraries, they became aware that not all manuscripts were equally ancient. Recent Bible translations focus on the more ancient manuscripts [2].

The older manuscripts exclude the doxology and amen. This is why translations of the Bible made before that discovery include the doxology and amen, while newer translations do not. Hugenberger (1999, 55) observes that the doxology abbreviates a longer doxology found in 1 Chronicles 29:11-13.

Doxology is taken from the Greek word, doxa, which means: “the condition of being bright or shining, brightness, splendor, radiance” [3]. Amen is a Hebrew word attributed to Jesus himself that means truly. When Jesus says: “truly, truly I say to you” (John 1:51), the Greek text reads—amen, amen—which the Greek transliterates from the Hebrew.

Personal prayer is a Christian distinctive. Jesus taught us how to pray, not exactly what to pray. He wants us to come to him as a community of faith, but he also wants us to approach him as individuals. Personal prayer is a Christian distinctive.

[1] .”For example, the English Standard Version and the New International Version do not include the doxology.

[2] Metzger and Ehrman (2005) review the New Testament textual history in great detail.

[3]  (BDAG 2077, 1). For example: “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory (δόξα) of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.” (Luke 2:9).

References

Bauer, Walter (BDAG). 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Ed. Frederick W. Danker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. <BibleWorks. v.9.>.

Hugenberger, Gordon P. 1994. Marriage as a Covenant: Biblical Law and Ethics as Developed from Malachi. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Metzger, Bruce M. and Bart D. Ehrman. 2005. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. New York: Oxford University Press.

Also see:

Preface to A Christian Guide to Spirituality

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

   
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Lord’s Prayer: Monday Monologues (podcast) April 19, 2021

Stephen_W_Hiemstra_20200125b

 By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflect on the Lord’s Prayer. After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on this link.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Lord’s Prayer: Monday Monologues (podcast) April 19, 2021

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

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Our Heavenly Father

Cover, A Christian Guide to Spirituality

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven . . . (Matt 6:7-9)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

The first phrase in the Lord’s Prayer is: “Our Father”.

We come before God as a community under a sovereign God. Addressing God as father focuses primarily on God’s sovereignty, not God’s gender [1]. God is a benevolent sovereign who desires relational intimacy with his children. He is not a buddy god or a needy god that can be manipulated. Rather, we depend on God for everyday bread—not the other way around.

Our Human Fathers

For human fathers who are not good role models, scripture reminds us that God is a father to the fatherless (Ps 68:5). Scripture is not just “turning a phrase” here. One consequence of slavery in Egypt and later in Babylon was illegitimacy, which kept many Jewish children from ever meeting their fathers. The word, orphan, is used in over fifty verses in scripture—eleven times in the book of Deuteronomy alone. Jesus himself assures us: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18) Our Heavenly Father’s love for us, His children, inspires our human fathers, not the other way around.

Christian Spirituality

Christian spirituality has a communal character—it is not my spirituality; it is our spirituality. In baptism, for example, we are presented to God and to the church. In communion, we remember our baptism and celebrate our covenantal relationship with God and with one another. We can enjoy solitude with God while recognizing the vital role our community of faith has in shaping our relationship with God. In turn, we know God better as we love one another.

The communal aspect of God’s intimacy implies that our spirituality is not focused just on warm, fuzzy feelings. Ours is not a consumer spirituality. Great panoramas, great music, great poetry, great architecture, and great intellectual achievements all point to God, but our spirituality is inherently relational. We are most likely to see God’s face in the faces of those around us.

Cain and Abel

Jesus’ stories and parables drive this point home:

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matt 5:23-24)

Our spiritual identity is in a sovereign God and in right relationships with His people. The two are inexplicably bound together.

Doctrine of the Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity reinforces this point. Every conversation is three-way. It is always you, me, and God. God is above us, between us, and within us. In God’s transcendence, God is all powerful and in control. Through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God shares our pain and provides us a role model. In the Holy Spirit’s presence, God comforts and guides us. We are in relationship with God in three persons. Our identity is defined uniquely and independently in relation to each person in the Trinity (Miner 2007, 112).

But why is the Lord’s Prayer addressed to heaven? The obvious answer is that heaven is God’s home address. Another obvious answer is that heaven clarifies which father we are talking about!

Notice that almost all the petitions in the Lord’s Prayer center on God, not us. Do we listen for God’s voice? Are we approaching our sovereign God in appropriate humility?

[1] The image of God as our father makes a statement about His character. God is spirit; being neither male or female.

References

Miner, Maureen. 2007. “Back to the basics in attachment to God: Revisiting theory in light of theology.” Journal of Psychology and Theology, 35(2), 112–22.

Our Heavenly Father

Also see:

Preface to A Christian Guide to Spirituality

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

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The Lord’s Prayer: A Guide for the Perplexed By Gordon P. Hugenberger

Hugenberger, Gordon P. 1994.  The Lord’s Prayer:  A Guide for the Perplexed.  Boston:  Park Street Church.

Reviewed by Stephen W. Hiemstra

The book speaks to the hollowing out of large parts of the church in recent years. The consensus view focuses on the form rather than the content of our faith. Liberals have abandoned the basic doctrines of the church while evangelicals have eschewed depth to appeal to seekers. Scholarly devotionals helps mitigate this problem by offering believers something more thoughtful to chew on.

Against this backdrop, the Lord’s Prayer: A Guide for the Perplexed, written by Rev. Dr. Gordon P. Hugenberger reflects biblically on the content of the Lord’s Prayer. For example, the introduction points out that the Gospel of Luke gives special emphasis to Jesus’ prayer life (5). Hugenberger is the senior pastor at Park Street Church, Boston MA and a professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, MA. Park Street Church is famous as the site for in early Billy Graham revival in the 1940s.

A topic likely to generate discussion is Hugenberger’s discussion of why newer translations omit the doxology to the Lord’s Prayer. The doxology is–For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen–found, for example, in Matthew 6:13 in the King James Version of the bible at the end of the prayer. The basic reason is that the doxology was added in later Greek manuscripts because Jesus meant the Lord’s Prayer to be a template for prayer, not an officially sanctioned prayer. The church took this advice seriously adding petitions, like the doxology at the end of the prayer (7). When scholars examined earlier manuscripts, those manuscripts did not have the oxology.  Because newer translations give preference to older Greek manuscripts, the doxology was left out or became a footnote.

Hugenberger’s book is useful as a devotional study for mature Christians and their study groups wanting to deepen their understanding of the Lord’s Prayer. The book is short enough to read in one sitting, but devotions are best enjoyed at a more leisurely pace.

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