Luke vs. Matthew and the End of the Lord’s Prayer

As it was in the time of Turretin so it is in our time that we discuss whether the ending or doxology of the Lord’s prayer is original. Pointing out again, these debates are not new. It is not like the originality of the Lord’s prayer was something modern scholars fortuitously stumbled upon in their work. Rather such questions and argumentation were leveled by the Roman Catholic Church centuries before in an attempt to besmirch the certainty and authority of the Greek and Hebrew apographa thus making room for the certainty and authority of the Latin Vulgate. The questions are the same, but the source of the questions has changed. Where before it was Roman Catholics pressing these questions against Protestants now it is Protestants pressing these questions against Protestants.

Looking now to Turretin, he writes of the ending of the Lord’s Prayer or what he calls the doxology,

“Although the doxology (doxologia) which appears at the end of the Lord’s Prayer (Mat. 6:13), is not found in Lk. 11, nor in the various copies, it does not follow that the passage is corrupt.”

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Second Topic, Question 10, Sec. XXII.

Note that Turretin affirms the existence of the doxology in Matthew and then in acknowledging that truth goes on to defend why Luke does not have it. I admit that the major thrust of today’s debate over the end of the Lord’s Prayer revolves around whether it belongs in Matthew. Still, as we work through Turretin’s argument we will see how he would have us deal with Matthew’s account.

Omanson says of the Matthew’s account,

“Early and important manuscripts of the Alexandrian, Western, and other types of text, as well as commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer by early Church Fathers, end the Lord’s Prayer with word πονηροῦ in v. 13. Copyists added several different endings in order to adapt the Prayer for use in worship in the early church.”

Roger Omanson, A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament, 8.

We will get to Omanson’s claim in a minute, but back to Turretin’s treatment of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke, Turretin makes two arguments for the different endings of the Lord’s prayer – the one in Matthew and the one in Luke. The first argument takes the form of

“…because our Lord may have twice proposed the same form of prayer: first in the private instruction of his disciples without it and then to a promiscuous crowd where he added it.”

Turretin, Institutes, Second Topic, Question 10, Sec. XXII.

Turretin’s second argument take the form of the following,

“Nor is it unusual for one evangelist to omit what another has mentioned, since they did not think it necessary to record absolutely everything; as for instance Mt. 6:33 has ‘seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness,’ but Lk 12:31 simply ‘seek the kingdom of God.’

Turretin, Institutes, Second Topic, Question 10, Sec. XXII.

Now you might not think these arguments to be sufficient to your liking. Ok, so be it. The point is that Turretin was aware of the objection to the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer. Furthermore, Turretin makes a cogent and reasonable accounting for the difference and for the doxology in general. In short, you may not like his reasons, but his reasons are sufficiently reasonable and account for the phenomena of Scripture. But what about the doxology as it appears in Matthew? What does Turretin have to say about that in light of its absence from Luke? In concluding his remarks on this passage in Luke when compared to Matthew, Turretin writes,

“We must not therefore erase, but supply from Matthew what Luke has omitted, since both were inspired (theopneustos), especially as the full form exists in all the Greek copies of Matthew, according to Erasmus and Beza.”

Turretin, Institutes, Second Topic, Question 10, Sec. XXII.

This is a beautiful example of the kind of text-critical methodology we advocate for here at Turretin objects to the claim that we should remove the doxology from Matthew because it is not in Luke for two reason: First, Turretin clearly shows his Christian precommitments in his decision about the doxology by admitting and proclaiming that both Matthew and Luke were inspired. Second, after grounding himself in a theological assertion he then goes on to employ evidence that according to Erasmus and Beza all the Greek copies have the doxology in Matthew. Note here that Turretin does not weigh manuscripts but rather counts them when using the term “all”.

In this brief example we see that the debates over such readings like the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer are old and have been answered for hundreds of years. We also see Turretin’s commitment to a clear confession of his Christian theological precommitments in making a judgment about a reading. We then see that within the matrix of theological precommitments, Turretin employs evidence as support and not as primary to buttress his case. And finally, we observe that in this case, pre-critical “textual criticism” thought that the number of manuscripts bore considerable weight in the decision-making process.

To my CT/MVO brothers, it is probably best to stop with the charade that Pre-Critical and Post-Critical textual criticism are cut from the same cloth and further it is best that we agree that so many of these objections were answered 100 years before the United States of America became a nation. That said, it very well may be our responsibility to answer these questions again for a new generation of Scripture skeptics. Still, it wouldn’t be so bad if the Scripture skeptics were enemies of the Gospel, but instead the skeptics are our brothers in Christ.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: