Today’s gospel contains what is probably the most familiar text in Christianity. We know it as The Lord’s Prayer. (MT 6:7-15) Recently I listened to a series of lectures about the prayer by Neil Douglas-Klotz, a scholar of Aramaic, the language that Jesus likely spoke in his everyday life. I went looking this morning for his translation because I found it beautiful and expansive of what I have known since early childhood. I found first a comment about Aramaic, then a translation in first century Aramaic and finally, Klotz’s translation using more modern terms. I share them all here for those of us whose love of words affects the feeling level of our prayer and as one more way to connect to others on our planet who speak different languages but whose hearts are united.
Comment: The Aramaic language has (like the Hebrew and Arabic) different levels of meaning. The words are organized and defined by a poetical system where different meanings of every word are possible. So every line of the Lord’s Prayer could be translated into English in many different versions.
First Century Aramaic: O 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. Let your will come true in the universe (all that vibrates), just as on earth (that is material and dense). Give us wisdom 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 superficial things (materialism, common temptations), but let us be freed from that which keeps us off from our true purpose. From you comes the all-working will, the lively strength to act, the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age. Sealed in trust, faith and truth (I confirm with my entire being).
Neil-Douglas-Klotz: O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos, focus your light within us – make it useful. Create your reign of unity now – through our fiery hearts and willing hands help us love beyond our ideals and sprout acts of compassion for all creatures. Animate the earth within us: we then feel the Wisdom underneath supporting all. Untangle the knots within so that we can mend our hearts’ simple ties to each other. Don’t let surface things delude us, but free us from what holds us back from our true purpose. Out of you, the astonishing fire, returning light and sound to the cosmos. Amen. (from Prayers of the Cosmos)