Church Write-Up: Epiousios; Craving More

At this week’s LCMS Lenten service, the pastor preached about bread. Here are two points.

A. In the KJV and other English translations, Matthew 6:11 reads, “Give us this day our daily bread.” According to the pastor, the word translated “daily,” “epiousios,” occurs only here and in the Lukan version of the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:3). The pastor said that scholars have sought an Aramaic foundation for this extremely rare word, but the word most likely relates to God providing people’s needs for the day.

I do not think that the word itself relates to Aramaic because it is so, well, Greek. “Epi” is a common Greek preposition, and “ousios” is from the Greek verb “eimi,” “to be.” Perhaps the pastor meant that scholars have debated what Aramaic term “epiousios” translates.

Donald Hagner in the Word Biblical Commentary on Matthew surveys scholarly proposals about the word, based on an etymological analysis of it. One view, of course, is that it means “daily,” but Hagner thinks that is redundant, since Matthew 6:11 already mentions “this day.” Another view is that it means necessary “for existence”—-“epi ousia”: Give us this day the bread that is necessary for our existence. Yet another view is that it comes from the Greek verb “epienai” (“to come”) and refers to the coming day: give us this day our coming day’s bread. When I attended Park Street Church in Boston, that is how we recited the Lord’s Prayer. But Hagner inquires if that interpretation would contradict Jesus’s exhortation in Matthew 6:34 not to worry about tomorrow. Hagner goes with a similar interpretation, however: give us this day the eschatological bread: “The disciples should pray for the experience of the eschatological blessing today, of the bread that brings the time of the eschaton, the messianic banquet.”

B. The pastor talked about how Adam and Eve craved more than God was giving them. God in the Garden was providing them with their needs, and they desired more. Similarly, God gave the Israelites manna in the wilderness, but they did not feel that was enough for them: they wanted more. Bread is a sign of warmth, sustenance, and fellowship, but, after the Fall, it became a symbol of humanity’s alienation and fallen state: in the sweat of his brow, Adam shall eat bread (Genesis 3:19).

My question is: Why wouldn’t God’s provision be enough? Is not God’s bread or water supposed to ensure that people never hunger or thirst again (John 4:13-15; 6:35)? If the hole in our heart can only be filled by God, why would we desire more than God? Are we not truly and fully partaking of God, and that is why our hearts are not filled and we desire more?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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