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The Lord'S Prayer In Early Christian Polemics To The Eighth Century

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Chapter Summary

The gospels of Matthew and Luke record that Jesus himself taught the Lord?s Prayer (LP) to his disciples. Ireneaus, Tertullian, and Augustine demonstrate how the teachings of the LP were central in refuting the key elements of faith practices and belief systems in various early Christian sects. Cyprian condemned what he called the wordy prayers and empty rituals of the Jews in light of the succinct and mysteriously powerful LP. Some early authors used the LP as apology against pagan religions in an effort to promote Christianity. Caesarius of Arles likewise lamented that far too many Christians relied on pagan or magical incantations as a means of dealing with life?s troubles. Later documents like the eighth-century anonymous sermon entitled A Homily on Sacrilegious Things and the ninth century Old Saxon Gospel known as the Heliand are evidence that Christians from this time interpreted the LP as having special magical powers.

Keywords: Augustine; Caesarius of Arles; Cyprian; early Christian polemics; Heliand; Jewish teaching; Lord?s Prayer (LP); pagan magical incantation; supersessionist apology; Tertullian



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