give us this day our daily bread

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give us this day our daily bread

Postby thomas.hagen » July 17th, 2014, 11:01 am

I have a question concerning the petition for bread in the Lord’s Prayer.

Matt. 6.11
Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον·
TON ARTON hHMWN TON EPIOUSION DOS hHMIN SHMERON·


Luke 11.3
τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δίδου ἡμῖν τὸ καθ' ἡμέραν·
TON ARTON hHMWN TON EPIOUSION DIDOU hHMIN TO KAQ' hHMERAN·


On the basis of some non-linguistic factors, I tend to think that in this sentence Jesus meant to put the emphasis not on “ἄρτον” nor on “ἐπιούσιον” but rather on “σήμερον / τὸ καθ' ἡμέραν”. I’m wondering if there is anything in the linguistics of the sentence which would support this idea (the position of the word(s), for example, or anything else). If this were true, the sense of the petition would be, if pushed to the extreme: “Father, don’t give us more than what we need each day.”

Of course I’m also interested in knowing if the opposite might be true, that is, if a clear emphasis is laid either on “ἄρτον” or on “ἐπιούσιον” or on no word in particular.

Thank you for any light you may be able to shed on this – as you have already done for me a number of times in the past.

See you on map!
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Re: give us this day our daily bread

Postby Stephen Hughes » July 17th, 2014, 11:41 am

thomas.hagen wrote:Of course I’m also interested in knowing if the opposite might be true, that is, if a clear emphasis is laid either on “ἄρτον” or on “ἐπιούσιον” or on no word in particular.

I think you are asking a relevant and useful question.

What has lead you to think that there might be emphasis here?
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Re: give us this day our daily bread

Postby Jonathan Robie » July 17th, 2014, 2:34 pm

If I understand Levinsohn correctly, his analysis of this prayer in both Matthew and Luke says that the phrase τὸν ἄρτον ἡµῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον is moved forward to give it focal prominence.

That matches my intuition.

Also worth mentioning: In the older commentaries, at least, there's significant debate about the meaning of τὸν ἐπιούσιον. I'm not sure if that's settled down based on later evidence.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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καθ' ἡμέραν vs. ἐφ᾽ ἡμέρῃ

Postby Stephen Hughes » July 18th, 2014, 12:22 am

thomas.hagen wrote:On the basis of some non-linguistic factors, I tend to think that in this sentence Jesus meant to put the emphasis not on “ἄρτον” nor on “ἐπιούσιον” but rather on “σήμερον / τὸ καθ' ἡμέραν”. I’m wondering if there is anything in the linguistics of the sentence which would support this idea (the position of the word(s), for example, or anything else). If this were true, the sense of the petition would be, if pushed to the extreme: “Father, don’t give us more than what we need each day.

Let me re-define your question in different (my own) terms:
There is an idea of discreteness in both σήμερον and τὸ καθ' ἡμέραν. We are asked to consider each time period as it occurs. The first is at the exclusion of a sequence and second is each one in the sequence. In that way the giving is seen to happen within the time limitation of each day. Does the time limitation for the "giving" also imply that the amount given is limited to the needs of the day - which I have previously said was effectively disconnected from those around it?

My answer is:
No. To express that meaning the sense of ἡμέρα "day" would not primarily be about a period of time, but as something that can be weighed up against food. Further to that, the ἡμέρα takes the sense of the consumption that people make during the day. That requires an abstraction in thought about the nature of time. [Just as: u = d / t, or t = d / u, so in the case you are considering: rate of consumption of food = food consumed / time, or time "ἡμέρα" = food consumed / rate of consumption of food, ie. ἡμέρα = food (quantity / rate of consumption), anyway, forgive my poor maths - but the point I'm making is that you are using a different meaning of ἡμέρα].

I think that the meaning of "for the day", where the quantity of food needed for the day is limited by the rate of consumption multiplied by the duration would be expressed by ἐφ᾽ ἡμέρῃ. [cf. ἐφημερόβιος, living for the day, from hand to mouth]
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Re: give us this day our daily bread

Postby Stephen Carlson » July 18th, 2014, 2:57 am

What do people mean by "emphasis" in this particular petition and how does it differ from a non-emphasis or different placement of emphasis?
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What I mean by emphasis - adverb -> adjective

Postby Stephen Hughes » July 18th, 2014, 4:55 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:What do people mean by "emphasis" in this particular petition and how does it differ from a non-emphasis or different placement of emphasis?

thomas.hagen wrote:On the basis of some non-linguistic factors, I tend to think that in this sentence Jesus meant to put the emphasis not on “ἄρτον” nor on “ἐπιούσιον” but rather on “σήμερον / τὸ καθ' ἡμέραν”. I’m wondering if there is anything in the linguistics of the sentence which would support this idea (the position of the word(s), for example, or anything else). If this were true, the sense of the petition would be, if pushed to the extreme: “Father, don’t give us more than what we need each day.”

I'm answering on the understanding that Thomas is saying that if the word / phrase σήμερον / τὸ καθ' ἡμέραν is in a position in the sentence where people who pay more attention to it, and really think about it, then it has the ability to somehow magically change from being an adverb with the verb δὸς / δίδου, to being able to adjectival force with the object of the verb. Looking at the adjectives that could (theoretically) arise if that were true; they would be σημερινός of today and καθημέριος day-by-day, daily. Neither of those mean what Thomas is wondering whether that they do. If the adverb was so stroong as to affect the noun with the meaning that he is suggesting it would have to ἐφ᾽ ἡμέρῃ, which if it somehow could give adjectival force to the object of the verb in some circumstances, that adjective would be ἐφήμερος (better, I think than either ἐφημέριος or ἐφημερινός) "for the day", "not lasting for a long time", "lasting but a day".

That is to say, I think he is wondering if in a sentence where the adverb is the central element, it can affect more than just the verb, but if it is an unstressed / non-prominent position then it can only affect the verb. In addition, I think he is wondering if an adverb of time can become an adverb of manner in some circumstances.

I think it is an interesting question because of the idea of adverbs having adjectival force, and because it doesn't appear to be correct, it suggests that the parallel with the manna of the Old Testament, which is where I can best guess that one of his "On the basis of some non-linguistic factors" may have come from. For me that is interesting because if that is the case, then the typology of manna foreshadowing the bread of life suggests that the bread Jesus gives is of a lasting quality.

I just stated my opinion without going into details about my thinking, bcause this was posted in the Beginner's Sub-Forum, and some of it is theologically reflective.
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Re: give us this day our daily bread

Postby RandallButh » July 19th, 2014, 7:29 am

Yes, Thomas Hagen, 'daily bread' is probably not the Focus (a.k.a. emphasis).

Jonathan Robie wrote:If I understand Levinsohn correctly, his analysis of this prayer in both Matthew and Luke says that the phrase τὸν ἄρτον ἡµῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον is moved forward to give it focal prominence.

That matches my intuition.

Also worth mentioning: In the older commentaries, at least, there's significant debate about the meaning of τὸν ἐπιούσιον. I'm not sure if that's settled down based on later evidence.


Fronting can occur in order to provide a context and that would not be called focal prominence. The bread is not the most salient piece of information being specially marked but is introducing what will be talked about.

Ultimately there are three different contexts in three differentcommunitcations: there could be a special focus by Luke, by Matthew, both in Greek, or a special emphasis by Jesus in a hypothesized Hebrew order. But any of the three communications could also have a fronted "bread...' without any Focus at all.

Meself? I think that the phrase was originally "leHem Huqqenu" 'bread of our right, allotment' and without Focus. It only presented the topic for discussion, becoming what I would call a contextualizing constituent.
The rest of the sentence "give us ..." is in default word order. The whole sentence then, is without any marked saliency. If anything steps out of default phraseology, it is adding the phrase "as we hereby forgive ...", the non-petition among the petitions. Worth chewing on.
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Re: give us this day our daily bread

Postby thomas.hagen » July 19th, 2014, 8:21 am

First of all, thank you all for your comments. I’ll try to answer both Stephens’ questions about emphasis, although I’m not sure this is the appropriate place as it does not concern the Greek text – please let me know. However, I will try to tie in some of the other comments which do concern the text.

In Matthew 6.8, the verse before the Lord’s prayer, Jesus says that the Father knows what we need before we ask him (which might imply that we don’t need to ask). Then at the end of the chapter (32-34), Jesus repeats this idea that the Father knows our material needs, and he exhorts us not to seek them nor worry about them because if we seek the Kingdom of God these needs will be supplied. He concludes with an exhortation to concentrate on the present day and not worry about the following day.

I consider the Lord’s Prayer to be a summary of Jesus’ vision of the relationship between the believer and God, the essentials of this relationship in a nutshell. I find it strange that Jesus should include in his “list” of essentials something which in other contexts (as above) he presents as thoroughly marginal. Consequently, I don’t think that the request for bread is the cry of a starving person who is pleading with God to supply his need. It seems to fit in more appropriately with the mindset expressed by Jesus in the verses cited above, that is, the awareness of the importance of being content with having what we need for today and, implicitly, not seeking or desiring more than that so we can concentrate our attention on the kingdom. It seems to me that this is compatible with all of Jesus’ teaching concerning wealth and material needs (serving God and Mammon, laying up treasure in heaven, the Foolish Rich Man, etc.). It also obviously reflects the experience of the manna in the desert as Stephen mentions in his second comment.

So when I asked about “emphasis” I was simply trying to identify the point Jesus’ wanted to make in this sentence. Is he saying, “When you’re hungry, have faith in God, ask him for the bread you need, and you’ll see that it will arrive,” or is it closer to the expression of an awareness: “Father, give us what we need today / day by day (because that is all we desire).”

In this sense, Jonathan’s comment (If I understand Levinsohn correctly, his analysis of this prayer in both Matthew and Luke says that the phrase τὸν ἄρτον ἡµῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον is moved forward to give it focal prominence.) might indicate that the emphasis I was looking for is actually present; I was simply looking in the wrong place.

If “Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον” has been “moved forward to give it focal promince”, then that is perhaps the point Jesus wanted to make: “What do we ask the Father for today? Just the essentials for today – nothing more, nothing less.”
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