In Luke 18, we read the story of the prayers of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the temple. The Pharisee's prayer (vv 11-12):

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.(ESV)

It seems like he is making a self-assessment rather than offering prayer to God. Is this prayer in a pattern typical of a formulaic type of prayer practiced among the Pharisees? Do we know anything more about the structure of typical prayers in the liturgy of the Second Temple period?

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    Hello, Rich, and welcome. Your question seemed to me opinion-based, which can be a reason for closure on this site. I have re-written it to try to make it about the historical context of a particular text instead. Please take a look and see if it remains consistent with your intentions. You can roll back anything you don't like.
    – Susan
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 1:10

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The Jews today (some, actually) pray something along the lines of "Thank God I'm a Jew and not a Gentile. Thank you God, you've made me a man and not a woman/slave".

Appearently this prayer links to the 3rd century BCE. It's not an uncommon prayer structure, and it's structure was criticized by the RaMBaM

There were also internal, Jewish critics of the dawn blessings who were troubled not by any anti-Gentile content but by the danger of the formulas' becoming so ritualized as to be detached from lived experience. Two such critics were Maimonides and his son, the Judeo-Sufi pietist Abraham Maimuni. They were joined by the Franco-German pietists known as Hasidei Ashkenaz, whose richly mythic worldview otherwise differed greatly from Maimonides' rationalism.

  • Could you expand that citation so that others can find it? We like sources to be cited well. Also, this doesn't fully answer the question. It's more of a comment on it needing further explanation and research.
    – Dan
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 18:34

Do we know anything more about the structure of typical prayers in the liturgy of the Second Temple period?

I am not so sure the word "liturgy" would be appropriate.

We do have a record that there was public prayer as almost a performance similar to what is recorded in Luke 18.

Matthew 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

  • Could you elaborate any more? You haven't presented any historical evidence that would indicate Matthew is talking about a prayer in this format from Luke - it is purely speculative. Extrabiblical historical sources would greatly strengthen your argument.
    – Dan
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 23:34

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