Festivals/Seasons & Holy Days

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John Dominic Crossan: The Greatest Prayer – Rediscovering the revolutionary message of the Lord’s Prayer

John Dominic Crossan

The Greatest Prayer

Rediscovering the revolutionary message of the Lord’s Prayer

ISBN: 9780 2810 6417 5

SPCK, 2011, £10.99

From the prologue: ‘This prayer is prayed by Christians who emphasise what it never mentions and also prayed by Christians who ignore what it does.’

From the epilogue: The final petition of the Lord’s prayer –‘Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one’ – challenges us ‘to think about Jesus as creator of the Abba Prayer and to ask ourselves: Do we find any divine violence in it? Or do we find in it – and in the life that produced it as its summary – a non-violent vision that is still the last best hope for our species and our earth?’

Between prologue and epilogue we find eight closely argued chapters designed to lead Christians who pray from the position described in the former to that alluded to in the latter.

Crossan identifies five interwoven themes throughout this meditation. The first is the understanding of God the Father as God the Householder of the World. The second is that at the dawn of Creation human beings were to be images of that divine character – stewards of the household. The third, that Jesus is son and heir of the Householder. The fourth – Christians are to be colleagues in this stewardship. The fifth, all of this comes together in the Abba Prayer of Jesus.

Throughout, the argument is supported with reference to the scriptures known to Jesus, to his economic status and that of his homeland, to the politics of the time.

Here we have a brave attempt to rescue ‘The Greatest Prayer’ from its present abuse as a token bit of routine, and its reinstatement as the expression of the prayer of the Lord Jesus at the heart of his church.

Anselm SSF