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The Lord's Prayer
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Westminster John Knox Press
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C. Clifton Black provides a thorough analysis of the most famous prayer in the Christian church, the Lord’s Prayer. He begins with an impressionist painting of how the ancients prayed during Jesus’ time in order to set the context for understanding the prayer he taught his disciples. Throughout the book, Black systematically interprets the rich meanings of each part of the Lord’s prayer. Additionally, he includes an overview of Christian thought on the Lord’s Prayer from early church mothers and fathers like Tertullian and Teresa of Avila to modern theologians like Karl Barth. Uniquely, this book is an academic study of the Lord’s Prayer with a focus on the rhetorical culture from which it developed as well as the theological, literary, and historical meanings of the prayer itself.

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Clifton Black is Otto A. Piper Professor of Biblical Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary. He is a renowned New Testament scholar with more than thirty years of teaching experience, shaping theological education and ecclesial leaders in mainline denominations. He is an ordained elder in the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. He has authored or edited twenty books and more than two hundred essays, articles, and reviews, including The Lord’s Prayer in the Interpretation series and The Rhetoric of the Gospel: Theological Artistry in the Gospels and Acts, Second edition. He was elected to the presidency of the American Theological Society (2022–2023).

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"Clifton Black immerses his readers in the Lord’s Prayer, attending to its literary, historical, and theological dimensions—and he does so, in his characteristic manner, in a book enlivened with clear, engaging prose. A perceptive interpreter who reads Scripture as a theologian and honors the church’s theological tradition and confession, Black has produced a resource that will help persons and communities of faith today pray Jesus’s model prayer more meaningfully and embody it in practice more faithfully. And if, as the author suggests throughout the book, the Lord’s Prayer offers par excellence an 'education of human wanting,' this book will nudge readers toward prayers that align desires more closely to genuine needs and to the divine will for human life." - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology

"Part of the supplement series for the Interpretation Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, this volume offers an in-depth analysis of the Lord’s Prayer as it appears in both Matthew and Luke as well as offering discussion of its contemporary application. Black’s commentary is often insightful, such as his analysis of the relationship between the kingdom and God’s will. Black’s work is an important resource that no serious study of the Lord’s Prayer should ignore." – Religious Studies Review

"This book is an excellent resource for pastors and teachers in the church. It not only provides a thorough exegesis of the biblical text, it also provides readers with historical context, important issues in the history of interpretation, and connections between the words and themes of the Lord’s Prayer and themes in the wider biblical text. In addition, the book provides readers with thoughtful articulation and compelling questions for reflection on the meaning of the text for pas- toral ministry. Most importantly, the book helps readers to allow the Lord’s Prayer to teach them the value of orienting their life toward God and to draw ever more deeply into prayer." - Journal of Moral Theology

“Clifton Black has long been regarded as one of our most sensitive and insightful readers of Scripture. Now Professor Black joins Jesus in teaching us how to pray in the name of Jesus. This is a beauti- ful, encouraging book that pastors and congregations will find quite useful in deepening their prayer life.”—Will Willimon, United Methodist Bishop (retired), Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry, Duke Divinity School, and author of How Odd of God: Chosen for the Curious Vocation of Preaching

“Clifton Black spreads a feast of learning and thought in this splen- did volume on the Lord’s Prayer. In addition to a rich analysis of the prayer itself in the context of the Gospels and ancient culture, he shows its theological depth and its ecumenical possibilities. As lagniappe, he provides a glimpse of the history of the interpretation of Jesus’s prayer. A book valuable both to scholars and pastors.” —Luke Timothy Johnson, Robert W. Woodruff Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Christian Origins, Emory University

“The words are as familiar as any in the language, prayed every day for two thousand years, in gorgeous liturgy, uttered by frightened men and women facing danger, offered at weddings and funer- als and by the bedsides of seriously ill patients, whispered before sleep, and commented on by biblical scholars and theologians in every age. Clifton Black has written a consummate and comprehen- sive, scholarly but accessible book, helpfully placing the Prayer in the context of the Greco-Roman world and the spiritual traditions of first-century Judaism. If you have only one book on the Lord’s Prayer, this should be it—an invaluable resource for thoughtful readers, seekers, and preachers and teachers alike.” —John M. Buchanan, Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago and former Editor/Publisher, The Christian Century

“The Lord’s Prayer is Christ’s precious gift to the church and world. Wisely, Clifton Black has been entrusted to guide us through it. The Prayer could not be in better hands. Faithful to its purpose, learned in its history of interpretation, and, most of all, pastoral in his exposition, Black leads us through the simple words many of us recite every day. This beautiful book will add a second blessing to the Prayer and help us hear it anew.”—Richard Lischer, James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor Emeritus of Preaching at Duke Divinity School and author of Reading the Parables and Stations of the Heart

“Faced with this book on the Lord’s Prayer, I have three questions. Do I agree with all the interpretations? No, but the range of mate- rial discussed here is so rich that I can think about them afresh for myself. Did I go along with all the theology? No, but the larger con- text here, from the prayers of ancient Greece, Rome, and Israel to those of spiritual and theological giants of every age, has opened my eyes to unguessed treasures. Did it make me want to pray and give me fresh resources to do so? Yes. Abundantly. That’s what matters.” —N. T. Wright, former Bishop of Durham and Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews, Scotland

“Black provides a detailed exegetical commentary on the Lord’s Prayer, with careful analysis of the difficulties of this beloved and well-known text. At the same time, he offers a rich theological com- mentary on the Prayer, sensitive to its lengthy history of interpre- tation and to the challenges facing contemporary Christians. This volume will be a welcome resource for pastors and for theologically engaged students of the New Testament.” —Harold W. Attridge, Sterling Professor of Divinity, Yale Divinity School

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