Soulen–Hallowed Be Thy Name

Jesus followed the Jewish practice of never pronouncing the divine name. Thus the Lord’s Prayer has as its first prayer: “Hallowed be thy name.” Jesus did not pray: “Hallowed be YHWH.” Kendall Soulen, in The Divine Name(s) and the Holy Trinity says that Jesus’ name avoidance is the starting point for Trinitarian identification.

Probably most of us who say the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday in worship fail to get it. (A child asks the preacher, Who is Howard?” The preacher says, “What do you mean?” The kid says, “You know, ’Howard by thy name.’”) Most of us probably think that prayer means that we want God to help us treat his name with reverence.

Soulen says this is wrong, or at least incomplete. We are praying for God to sanctify his own name. The background is Ezekiel 36:23 “I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am YHWH, says the Lord YHWH, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.” This ties in with Jesus’ announcement that the kingdom of God is near and his further prayer that God’s kingdom come and his will be done. The sanctifying of God’s name is an end-time event that involves God upholding the honor of his own name through his people.

The future hallowing of God’s name leaves open the mystery of God who continues to disclose himself. So we see that in Jesus various dimensions of God get revealed. At his baptism the voice of the Father speaks, “This is my beloved son.” The Sprit descends in blessing. And the Son, by entering into solidarity with humans by baptism, becomes the presence of God among men. Thus the Trinity intersects with humanity in Jesus. New layers of meaning get added to the divine name. But the Christians need to be aware that it all goes back to the unspoken name of God given in the Hebrew Scriptures.

“Whenever Christians pray this prayer as Jesus taught them, they render up silent witness to this unspoken name. What is more, they demonstrate, in the most concrete way imaginable, that the Incarnation and outpouring of the Holy Spirit has not rendered obsolete all forms of Jewish cultic practice, not even among Christ’s own disciples in the present day.” (The Divine Name(s) and the Holy Trinity, Kindle Edition. Chapter 12).


About theoutwardquest

I have many interests, but will blog mostly about what I read in the fields of Bible and religion.
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