Friday's Focus - Didache Articles
Botha, F.J. "Recent Research on the Lord's Prayer." Neotestamentica 1, 1967, 42-50.
Botha considers the Lord's Prayer to be a summary of all Jesus' teaching, and scholarship on the Lord's Prayer to illustrate "all the major questions involving synoptic studies" (Botha 1967, 42). Botha's purpose in this article is to draw attention o important questions but not to answer them comprehensively.
When the Lord's prayer is introduced in Matthew, it is in the context of Jesus' teaching on right motives. In Luke, it is presented in a completely different context, that of Jesus praying and being asked to teach his disciples how to pray. Botha notes that the prayer was likely used and taught in multiple different situations (Botha 1967, 42). The use of the Lord's prayer in the eucharist is not clear from early writings apart from the Didache and a later reference in the fourth century (Botha 1967, 43). However, the Rotas-Opera palindrome square found in Pompeii, containing a referenc to a pater noster, suggests common use of the prayer in Latin prior to 79 (Botha 1967, 43). Botha compares the text in Matthew and Luke, then does note some variants in early Christian authors who cited the prayer. He, with Jeremias, considers it possible that the version in Matthew represents Luke's prayer with some traditional liturgical expressions (Botha 1967, 44). In any case, it is hardly unlikely that Jesus would have taught a prayer more than once or in multiple forms which express the same ideas (Botha 1967, 46).
Botha notes extensive scholarship of the Lord's Prayer and prayers used in synagogues (Botha 1967, 46). Botha reviews several studies linking concepts as well as the practice of praying (Botha 1967, 47). Exegetical studies have focused on word choice which may show an eschatological emphasis in the prayer. Botha concludes, "It was never the intention of the Lord that his disciples should always and exclusively use this prayer in verbatim repetitions. The most important aspect lies not in the words used but in the matters for which prayer is offered" (Botha 1967, 48).