“Gloria Patri”

Chapter 31

Good Monday Morning to this new week 31 of 2023

The Codex Sinaiticus is an important book in regard to the history of the Bible. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity.
The version of the New Testament has some few interesting differences. It includes two works which have since been dropped from both Catholic and Protestant Bibles – “The Shepherd of Hermas”, a heavily allegorical work full of visions and parables and “The Epistle of Barnabas”, it also includes entire books which, after the Reformation, Protestants decided to drop from their Bibles: the Old Testament books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Maccabbees 1&2 and large chunks of Esther and Daniel. And the running order of the books is different, reflecting subtle shifts in the priorities of the believers over the ages.

The Codex omits the words which Protestants add to the end of The Lord’s Prayer, and Catholics omit: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever (Matthew 6:13), the “Gloria Patri”.

The Gloria Patri, also known as the Glory Be to the Father or, colloquially, the Glory Be, is a doxology, a short hymn of praise to God in various Christian liturgies.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
world without end. Amen.

The Gloria Patri is a simple but powerful expression of Christian faith. It affirms the Trinity of God, and it expresses the believer’s hope that God’s glory will be known throughout all eternity.

The Gloria Patri is a very ancient prayer, and it is found in some of the earliest Christian writings. It is thought to have originated in the Jewish practice of praising God at the end of a psalm. The Gloria Patri was first used in Christian worship in the 2nd century, and it has been a regular part of the Christian liturgy ever since.

The Gloria Patri is a beautiful and meaningful prayer that can be used to express our praise and worship of God. It is a reminder of the Trinity of God, and it gives us hope for the future.

The text of the Gloria Patri falls into the broader category of doxology – in the Greek doxologia or “words of glory.” Doxology finds its roots in the Hebrew liturgy and the psalms as the kaddish. The kaddish is a doxology recited after the verses of a song. Its recitation signals the conclusion of one of the sections of the liturgy and has many different forms and purposes (Idelsohn, 1967, p. 108). In the Jewish context, a doxology blesses the One God and God’s everlasting nature. For example, Psalm 41:13 states: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen and Amen” (KJV). This is a form of berakhah (blessing or benediction) that pervades Jewish liturgy and life.

The absence of the doxology in the Codex Sinaiticus aligns with some modern translations of the Bible, such as the Revised Standard Version (RSV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB), which also exclude it from the Lord’s Prayer.

In the Bible we see two phrases, “the kingdom of heaven” and “the kingdom of God”. The question of whether or not the two signify the same thing will not be dealt with here. There is an interesting debate on this subject. In any case, the two are different from a purely linguistic viewpoint. The phrase “kingdom of God” explicitly describes the owner of this kingdom as God. On the the hand, the phrase “kingdom of heaven” does not refer to the owner as God. It seems obvious that God is the rightful owner of this kingdom of heaven from a theological viewpoint, but we are simply looking at the word from a linguistic viewpoint.

Luke’s Gospel never refers to the kingdom of heaven whereas Matthew refers to it a total of 32 times. As Luke refers to the kingdom as “the kingdom of God” a total of 12 times before the introduction of the Lord’s prayer at Luke 11:2-4, by the time we get to the prayer it has already been established that the kingdom belongs to God. The same cannot be said of Matthew’s Gospel. In Matthew’s Gospel, we do not see the phrase, “the kingdom of God” until after our Lord finishes his teaching on how to pray. 

The statement, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” is a recognition and declaration that God alone deserves credit and glory. The kingdom is not ours. The power is not ours. The glory is not ours. The doxology affirms to God that “It’s not about me, it’s all about you.” Nothing else in the Lord’s prayer affirms this doctrine as clearly as the doxology. 

Reasons for the omission – for many they are accepted as mistakes They are referenced here as examples of why “older” does not mean “more reliable”. But the questions remain.

Hypothesis 1: mistake

Perhaps the omission of the doxology was a mistake. Perhaps a scribe who was familiar with Luke’s version of the Lord’s prayer thought that he was finished the Matthew portion of the prayer after having written, “…deliver us from evil.” After glancing back at the parent copy and seeing, “Amen”, he may have concluded the prayer at that point and wrote “Amen”. Some variants actually have “amen” without the doxology (17, vgcl). The “amen” could have dropped out at a later date to conform the prayer with Luke’s version. This is not an unreasonable scenario considering some of the strange scribal errors seen in Codex Sinaiticus.

Hypothesis 2: harmonization

Perhaps the omission of the doxology was deliberate. The omission could be sufficiently explained as an early attempt to harmonize the prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 with the other version of the Lord’s prayer in Luke 11:2-4. There is evidence of attempts at harmonizing the two prayers:

  • Luke’s version says “forgive us our sins” whereas Matthew’s version says “forgive us our debts”. But scribes have tried to change “sins” in Luke’s version to “debts” in order to harmonize the two prayers.
  • Luke’s version asks for daily bread “day by day (καθ ημεραν)” whereas Matthew’s version asks for bread “this day (σημερον)”. But scribes have tried to change “καθ ημεραν” to “σημερον” in Luke’s version in order to harmonize the two prayers.

Unless one were to grasp the contextual differences between Matthew 6 and Luke 11, as explained above, one would find it difficult to explain why Matthew’s version should have a doxology when Luke’s version does not. Hence an early skeptic might have removed it believing the doxology to be a pious addition or a gloss from a liturgical text. Yet if the doxology were added later it would be most probable that a similar doxology would also be added to Luke’s version of the prayer, at least in some manuscripts. But there is no such thing to be found in the body of manuscript evidence.

Hypothesis 3: the oral tradition overrode the written word

For the first several decades since the formation of the Church, many Christian communities did not have the written New Testament. These Christians received doctrines and traditions orally and passed them on orally to the next generation. No matter how early the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were written, the oral traditions were inevitably older. When a written tradition appeared to differ from a well-established oral tradition, the oral tradition might have taken priority in some communities. Consider the following hypothesis:

Suppose that in the early years of the Church, some Christian communities orally received the Lord’s prayer as later recorded by Luke (the version with no doxology). These communities had not yet learned of the version with the doxology. Suppose that these communities later came into contact with the Gospel of Matthew without ever seeing the Gospel of Luke. In this scenario, these communities were faced with a written version of the Lord’s prayer that is different from the oral version that had been remembered since the beginning. As these communities had no knowledge of the Gospel of Luke, the idea that there might have been two occurrences in which our Lord taught how to pray may not have crossed their minds. Members of these communities may have regarded the doxology in the Gospel of Matthew as a spurious addition to what had been believed to be the only version of the Lord’s prayer. As a result, these communities may have omitted the doxology thinking that they were doing the service of guarding the one and only true version of the Lord’s prayer.

The questions remain but so does the Gloria Patri endure as an expression of reverence and adoration to the Almighty. Whether recited after the Lord’s Prayer or integrated within it, this brief yet powerful declaration exalts the divine majesty.

In the Message Bible translation, Eugene Peterson breathes new life into the Lord’s Prayer, artfully capturing its essence in contemporary language. Embracing the Gloria Patri within this rendition, Peterson’s words paint a vivid picture of surrender and awe before the divine: “You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.” Such poetic rendering reminds us that the prayer’s power lies not merely in tradition but in the living experience of divine connection.

So, as we embrace the Gloria Patri or theologically prefer its absence, may the Lord’s Prayer continue to uplift our souls, connecting us with the divine God.

Wishing you a blessed start to this new week.


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