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Jesus’ Prayer Examined

DISSECTING JESUS’ PRAYER

By Gerald O’Collins, Darton, Longman and Todd, $29.95

Reviewed by Terry Oberg

THIS great Christian prayer is presented as the congruence of Scripture.

Every petition is traced back to its Biblical source and the reader becomes aware of the rich treasure that is found in both the Hebrew canon and the New Testament, with special exegetical attention being given to Paul’s wonderful letters.

He relates many of the parables to what the author terms the “You” and “We” supplications under which headings the content of the “Our Father” is fully analysed.

As a scripture scholar, Fr O’Collins is in the top bracket particularly

for his seminal studies on the Resurrection.

His scholarship is evident as he dissects the words of Jesus, but it is never ostentatious.

A typical example is his exegesis of the “bread” petition. The obscure Greek adjective “epiousios” is used by Matthew.

This, normally, is translated as “daily”, but it also connotes the notion of “for tomorrow”.

This opens up the concept of “the great tomorrow” – the day of salvation.

Thus the connection between the Eucharist and the final coming of Christ becomes the topic of some interesting speculation and, more importantly, much deeply spiritual and prayerful material.

Some of the associations made, particularly when the father image is

enlarged to include motherhood, at first sight might appear tenuous and

could even suggest just a touch of political correctness.

However, as the references are explained, the writer’s enlarged concept of the godhead is convincingly revealed.

What was suspect becomes credibly beautiful.

This is an attractive combination of scholarship, insight, spirituality and literary skill.

As such it is a welcome addition to the extensive DLT catalogue and a

worthy newcomer to Gerald O’Collins’ impressive list of spiritual writing.

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