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The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord's Prayer

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  206 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Every Sunday, the Lord's Prayer echoes in every Church around the world. It is an indispensable element of the faith. John Dominic Crossan, one of the world's leading experts on Jesus and his times, explores this foundational prayer line by line.
Paperback, 195 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by SPCK (first published September 7th 2010)
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Fred Kohn
Apr 04, 2013 Fred Kohn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jeanne Stevens Kohn
When I lost faith in the God of Abraham six years ago, I had also pretty much given up on Christianity as having the potential to contribute much to the progressive change the world desperately need. The bulk of Christianity seemed so regressive; focused mainly on oppression of marginalized groups and maintaining economic inequality. Reading John Crossan has restored my faith that perhaps there is hope for Christianity yet. Although some of his views (such as on the atonement) are sure to aliena ...more
Sally Andrews
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stacey Woodall
Not really what I expected but a good read anyway.
Sep 05, 2010 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any open-minded person interested in prayer
John Dominic Crossan's newest book - besides offering tremendous literally criticism and poetic insight - provides much needed depth into a subject matter that those who ascribe to liberal theology sometimes struggle with.

Accustomed as we are to a Christian tradition that all too often reduces prayer to "asking God for things," but at the same time philosophically unable to think of God as a person-like being, we simply don't know what do to with prayer; or as Paul of Tarsus (quoted approvingly
Jan 20, 2013 Lawrence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Greatest Prayer" is quite a stimulating book about The Lord's Prayer or the "Our Father". I think (but am not positive) that Mr. Crossan is connected to the so-called "Jesus Seminar" which tries to articulate who is exactly "the historical Jesus" (as people used to say). Although such a project might seem dry or an attempt to debunk the myth of Jesus, this book is what I call a "faithful book".

First off, the first chapter is an excursion into how to pray. Mr. C. takes Saint Paul's writings
Debra Brunk
Apr 30, 2013 Debra Brunk rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book and to get a lot out of it. The concept of going through the Lord's Prayer, sentence by sentence, seemed a good approach for learning and understanding the prayer and the new testament better. While there are some interesting discussions on the parallelism of the prayer's structure - and the chapter on "thy will be done" was thought-provoking, I found the analysis as a whole to be weak and circular. The author asks a number of questions at the beginning of each chapter ...more
James Klagge
I like Crossan as a scholar, and I'm interested in the Lord's Prayer--but somehow these two did not seem to come together for me here. Crossan opens chapters from left field with things of rather tangential relevance. It felt as though the publisher wanted him to lengthen his manuscript so he had to find some filler. At other points it also felt like Crossan had some material he wanted to include, even though it was not directly relevant.
Still, there was also good material. Crossan always takes
Jan 30, 2014 Gary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like John Dominic Crossan and what he has to say, but I've occasionally thought that he practices a certain "sleight of hand" in reaching his conclusions. I found that true in several places in this book. Take his exegesis of the petition, "lead us not into temptation." His argument is that this plea is SPECIFICALLY to lead us not into the temptation to do violence. Taking various other gospel passages, he demonstrates how Jesus was an advocate of non-violence. That's fair. I myself happen to ...more
Marty Solomon
Nov 08, 2011 Marty Solomon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic and insightful read from Crossan.

Crossan takes the Lord's Prayer and writes a chapter on each line of the prayer. The insight he brings from a scholastic perspective is brilliant. Some of the best work I've seen at taking the first-century discussion and context and helping to bridge the gap for a modern (or post-modern) western thinker. The chapter on the "eschaton" was one of the best I have read.

Each chapter builds upon the last until you have a beautiful tapestry of information, q
Aug 15, 2014 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
The Greatest Prayer starts off with a detailed breakdown of the Lord's Prayer (aka the "Our Father") as an example of carefully crafted Hebrew poetry, but then transforms into a meditation on each of the lines that make up the prayer. Crossan asks more questions than he answers, but returns to two key themes throughout: first, that "justice" is always distributive, and second, that the foundational metaphor for the prayer — and perhaps all of Christianity — is of God as the divine Householder. S ...more
Oct 03, 2015 Doni rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mariott
I appreciated his efforts to support non-violence and distributive justice, though I did not find his arguments persuasive. This is, once again, someone trying to make the bible say what he wants it to say. I would have preferred he stay closer to the text. And he did not address the part I was really interested in: "the kingdom, the power, and the glory," at all except to mention a reference to Satan's dominion.
Nov 04, 2011 Alice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as a devotional, a little bit each night. I purchased it after hearing Crossan speak in a series of theological lectures at the Chautauqua Institution. Much of the thrust of Crossan's theology is about distributive justice. Crossan is brilliant and the book is thought provoking. I would recommend reading the book more rapidly, at chapter at a sitting. The whole book is summed up near the end. If you want the thrust of the book, you could just read that.
Dan R Byrne Jr
Sometimes difficult to follow

This is a very different approach to the Lord's prayer. In many ways it tells you what the prayer is not, rather than what it is. Crossan's frequent switches to the Greek of a particular word or phrase in the prayer, and then extrapolated meaning from the Greek. This mid-argument language juggling is sometimes difficult to follow. The "explanation" of the prayer is academic, rather than an aide to actually praying the Lord's prayer.
Robert D. Cornwall
This is an excellent look at the Lord's Prayer. Looks deeply into the biblical context and background. His view is that at the heart of this prayer is God's concern for distributive justice. Worth reading (and in tandem with my own book on the subject that has come out just following Crossan's)
Joe Tedesco
Jan 20, 2013 Joe Tedesco rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
Dominic introduces passages in the Old and New Testaments that are life-affirming that are not often mentioned if ever. - I was good to read the passages that focused on justice and good-will for all -excluding none and actively including everyone especially those who are often neglected in our modern society.
S. Wilson
This was a disappointing book. Crossan could not get out of his scholar’s head and into his human heart. He would come close, but then blink. The book was about the Lord’s Prayer. And it did remind me of Distributive Justice and how without justice there is no justice and without justice there can be no love. But he could bring himself to drop the bombs he should have.
Stuart Jennings
Jun 15, 2013 Stuart Jennings rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
Not the best of Crossan's books. His scholarly insights are as sharp as ever but a book on prayer needs to touch the heart as well as the head and it never quite manages to do that. Good background reading to the prayer ineverrheless
Maggie Needham
A few months ago, I emailed my campus minister and said, "There should be a book about the Our Father that has a chapter on each line, going into the theology behind it all. Does that book exist?" And he said, "Yes, you want to read 'The Greatest Prayer' by John Dominic Crossan." So I did.
Just A. Bean
Aug 28, 2013 Just A. Bean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fairly dense going, as Crossan usually is, and I'd like to read this again at some point, but it really is an excellent explication of the Lord's Prayer, and I honestly think all Christians should read it.
Jul 14, 2012 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good logic and argument. But you have to accept his initial premises. He attempts to present them as logical conclusions, but they are simply acts of faith. I liked the book and the argument, just am not able to accept his premises as being the only basis for rational decision making.
Scott Freeman
Dec 03, 2010 Scott Freeman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books
A fantastic look at the Lord's Prayer from a leading scholar. The approach is one of distribute justice and nonviolence. A must read.
Jarkko Laine
Nov 29, 2010 Jarkko Laine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
My favorite book this year.
Feb 04, 2012 Billie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compelling, thoughtful, fresh look at The Lord's Prayer. A book to be reread and chewed again.

Am re-reading this book! (May 20, 2012)
May 31, 2016 Steve rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've read worse books...but not many.
Nov 18, 2012 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual, group
I really enjoyed this look at the Lord's Prayer from an historical perspective. I hope I heed the call to community.
Jsue wagner
Not my favorite Crossan. Seemed to be an underlying agenda never revealed. But still thought provoking overall.
Mar 04, 2012 Chuck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
I am currently re-reading this book by Dom Crossan. I have previously read it and found it very interesting, but I need to read it again in preparation for discussion in Moebius.
Diane Badger
Feb 03, 2013 Diane Badger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We don't often take the time to "dissect" this prayer and its meaning. I didn't agree with all of the author's interpretation and understandings but felt it made me much more aware of this prayer.
Mar 27, 2015 Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Quite interesting, but it seems that there is a lot of non-necessary off shoots...
Marty Schmidt
Feb 06, 2014 Marty Schmidt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crossan brings expert exegetical skills to one of the most important spiritual passages of all time - new wine in new wineskins.
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John Dominic Crossan is generally regarded as the leading historical Jesus scholar in the world. He is the author of several bestselling books, including The Historical Jesus, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, The Birth of Christianity, and Who Killed Jesus? He lives in Clermont, Florida.

John Dominic Crossan was born in Nenagh County in Tipperary, Ireland, in 1934. He was educated in Ireland and
More about John Dominic Crossan...

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“Firmly grounded in the divine dream of Israel’s Torah, the Bible’s prophetic vision insists that God demands the fair and equitable sharing of God’s world among all of God’s people. In Israel’s Torah, God says, “The land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants” (Lev. 25:23). We are all tenant farmers and resident aliens in a land and on an earth not our own.

The prophets speak in continuity with that radical vision of the earth’s divine ownership. They repeatedly proclaim it with two words in poetic parallelism. “The Lord is exalted,” proclaims Isaiah. “He dwells on high; he filled Zion with justice and righteousness” (33:5). “I am the Lord,” announces Jeremiah in the name of God. “I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight” (9:24). And those qualities must flow from God to us, from heaven to earth. “Thus says the Lord,” continues Jeremiah. “Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place” (22:3).

“Justice and righteousness” is how the Bible, as if in a slogan, summarizes the character and spirit of God the Creator and, therefore, the destiny and future of God’s created earth. It points to distributive justice as the Bible’s radical vision of God. “Ah, you who join house to house, who add field to field,” mourns the prophet Isaiah, “until there is room for no one but you, and you are left to live alone in the midst of the land” (5:8). But that landgrab is against the dream of God and the hope of Israel. Covenant with a God of distributive justice who owns the earth necessarily involves, the prophets insist, the exercise of distributive justice in God’s world and on God’s earth. All God’s people must receive a fair share of God’s earth.”
“On the one hand, the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European Enlightenment (that’s a metaphor, by the way) correctly “enlightened” us on the necessity of observation and experimentation in the physical sciences and the value of reason and debate, proof and repetition in science and technology. In that process, the dead hand of inquisitional power and the cold gaze of ecclesiastical control were removed from spheres about which they knew too little and claimed too much. That was a magnificent achievement and must always be appreciated as such.

On the other hand, the Enlightenment also dramatically “endarkened” us on metaphor and symbol, myth and parable, especially in religion and theology. We judge, for example, that the ancients took their religious stories literally, but that we are now sophisticated enough to recognize their delusions. What, however, if those ancients intended and accepted their stories as metaphors or parables, and we are the mistaken ones? What if those pre-Enlightenment minds were quite capable of hearing a metaphor, grasping its meaning immediately and its content correctly, and never worrying about the question: Is this literal or metaphorical? Or, better, what if they knew how to take their foundational metaphors and stories programmatically, functionally, and seriously without asking too closely about literal and metaphorical distinctions?

We have, in other words, great post-Enlightenment gain, but also great post-Enlightenment loss.”
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