Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lord's Prayer

After listening to the Lord's prayer the other day (and the normal confusion over debt/transgression) and it got me thinking: What is the original words?

The difficulty lies in two areas: translation and time.  Translating any language involves a certain degree of error. There is no one-to-one relationship between words in different languages.  In Europe, the Sami people have hundreds of words that mean snow, each with their own distinct meaning.  English has, in essence, one.  Translating from Sami to English loses meaning in the translation.  The reverse requires the translator to add more to the message than was originally intended.

Time is the other obstacle.  Translators tend to pick words that appeals to their issues of the day.  Translations of translations are like photocopies of photocopies.  Once a translator moves on from the original and translates a translation, the errors increase.  Time allows for translators to add phrases, like the doxology, to the original message.

Jesus, being Jewish, (gasp) relied on Hebrew texts for many of the things he is claimed to have said.  Consequently, I went looking for Hebrew and Aramaic versions of the prayer, in addition to the traditional Greek and Latin.  Based on my findings, and understandings of the languages, as they were used at the time, I think I have an interesting translation which more accurately represents the prayer than most of what I have seen in English.

Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes, who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.
May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiest.
Your Heavenly Domain approaches both within and without.
Let Your will come true - in the universe of all, just as on this material world.
Give us the understanding and assistance for our daily need.  Detach the fetters of faults that bind us, like we let go the guilt of others.
Let us not be lost in materialism or common temptations, but let us be freed from that what keeps us from our true purpose.

Mind you, in all of the examples of prayer in the Bible, the above prayer is not used.  It is simply used once to teach people how to pray.  This makes me wonder if the exact words are important, or if this is simply a guideline for how to create a prayer (like a template).

My research into the Lord's prayer, included wandering into the Didache again.  In it, I found another example of where time and translation changed early text into something more desired by the translator.  The Didache includes the phrases used in the Eucharist.  The Didache states the phrases as:

Concerning the Eucharist (communion) give thanks like this:
First for the cup:
We give thanks to You, our Father, for Your holy vine of David, Your servant, which You made known to us through Jesus, Your Servant. Glory to You forever.

Concerning the broken bread:
We give thanks to You, our Father, for the life and knowledge that You made known to us through Jesus, Your Servant. Glory to You forever. As this broken bread was scattered over the hills and was brought together becoming one, so gather Your Church from the ends of the earth into Your kingdom, for You have all power and glory forever through Jesus Christ.

Do not let anyone eat or drink of your Eucharist meal except the ones who have been baptized into the name of the Lord. For the Lord said concerning this: "do not give that which is holy to the dogs."

I'm intrigued that the breaking of the bread is more in line with the feeding of the five thousand than it does with the cannibalistic eating of Jesus' flesh.  I know, my comment about the five thousand is as accurate as "This is my body broken for you."

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