Did Jesus Oppose the prosbul in the Forgiveness Petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

In: Novum Testamentum
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The forgiveness petition of the Lord’s Prayer includes the condition that the petitioner must forgive their own “debtors,” widely taken to be a metaphorical reference to sin-forgiveness. In this article, I argue that to Jesus’ contemporaries “debt” would have been an unusual way of referring to sin, and that the choices made by the Matthean and Lukan redactors show that they understood the Jesus-saying to enjoin debt-forgiveness as well as sin-forgiveness. The prosbul was the only way for pious contemporaries to avoid the Torah’s requirement to periodically forgive debts, and so Jesus opposed the prosbul by enjoining precisely the behaviour which the prosbul made unnecessary.

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  • 5

    Strecker, The Sermon on the Mount, 119.

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  • 7

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    Aaron Rothkoff, “Prosbul (Heb. פרוזבול or פרוסבול ),” EncJud 13:1182.

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  • 30

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    Davies and Allison, Matthew 1-7, 616.

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    Betz, The Sermon on the Mount, 415.

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    Keener, The Gospel of Matthew, 214; tentatively, Luz, Matthew 1-7, 327.

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  • 53

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  • 59

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  • 61

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  • 65

    Hays, Luke’s Wealth Ethics, 143-146.

  • 66

    Hays, Luke’s Wealth Ethics, 158. See also Anthony J. Saldarini, Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees in Palestinian Society (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1988) 284, 296.

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