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11 Greek Philosophical Elements in Some Judaeo-Christian Prayers

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Chapter Summary

An intriguing set of ancient prayer texts is to be found in the 7th book of Apostolic Constitutions (AC), a late-fourth-century church order. In AC 7:33-38 we find six prayers in Greek that are generally regarded as christianized versions of six originally Jewish prayer texts, namely, the first six of Seven Benedictions for the Sabbath morning service. The existence of these benedictions is attested already in the earliest rabbinic literature and they consist of the first three and last three benedictions of the Shemoneh Esreh, plus a middle benediction for sanctification of the day. This chapter demonstrates how in some of these originally Jewish prayers, with all their biblical ideas and phraseology, we find quite a number of elements and concepts that have their origin in the Greek philosophical tradition. Since most of these philosophical elements are found in second and third prayer, the chapter focuses on these two texts.

Keywords: Apostolic Constitutions (AC); biblical ideas; Christian prayers; Greek philosophical tradition; Jewish prayer texts; Sabbath morning service; Shemoneh Esreh



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