A new look at the Lord’s Prayer

Published: 8/8/2016 5:39:57 PM

I hadn’t even heard of Aramaic before I studied world religions, but I learned that Aramaic is the ancient and metaphoric language in which the the Lord’s Prayer was originally written, before it was translated to Greek and then to English. I also learned that other parts of the Bible were originally written in Aramaic, and many scholars assert that much was lost in the translation from Aramaic to Greek first, then from Greek to English. This makes sense to me – just think about that Bill Murray movie “Lost in Translation.”

The book “Living the Prayer of Jesus: A Study of the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic,” written by local author and interfaith minister Rev. Stephanie Rutt, offers various translations, in addition to a CD for pronunciation of the words in Aramaic—a melodic and beautiful language.

When studying these ancient prayers in our two-year world religion class, we delighted in memorizing the whole of the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, and I still enjoy reciting it in my own spiritual practice. There is a primal and deeply moving aspect to its recitation in Aramaic.

I had originally included a table with this column that offered the Aramaic text with alternative translations, however, the format of the table was problematic to reproduce here, so I offer it below without the table or Aramaic text. Many of the suggested alternative translations shift the emphasis of the prayer from the traditionally Western religious structure of looking outside of ourselves to God as historically defined by the patriarchal hierarchies found in so many religions to more of an Eastern emphasis of looking within to connect with our own inner divinity. And yet we also “Align with the Creator,” with a higher power, or a force larger than ourselves.

 

“Our Father which art in heaven,” may be translated to, “With each breath, I remember my connection to the One who breathes me into life each moment.” (Remember)

“Hallowed be thy name,” to “I quiet an inner space to listen. I hear the hallowed call of my name and I answer.” (Create Space)

“Thy Kingdom come,” to “Oh, Beloved, align my will to Thy will.” (Align with the Creator)

“Thy will be done,” to “to serve Your purpose for my life.” (Manifest the Vision)

“in earth, as it is in heaven,” to “I pray heaven be brought to earth through me.” (Become Heaven on Earth)

“Give us this day our daily bread,” to “Satiate me with your love.” (Remember Fullness)

“And forgive us our trespasses,” to “Release me from the knots that bind as I practice forgiving myself.” (Forgive Self)

“as we forgive those who trespass against us” to “and I practice forgiving others.” (Forgive Others)

“And lead us not into temptation,” to “Keep me awake to Your beauty and help me to ripen in Your time.” (Resist Forgetfulness)

“But deliver us from evil,” to “And, when darkness comes, cradle me in your Grace so I may blossom, not in spite of, but because of.” (Cultivate Harmony) 

This line in particular, shifts the focus to something I can practice in my daily life – cultivating harmony. It also speaks to transmuting adversity into spiritual growth, inspiring me to look at problems and challenges as opportunities for learning and growth – again possible to practice in our daily lives.

“For thine is the kingdom,” to “For You have seeded the vision for my life within each breath I take.” (For Thine is the Vision)

“and the power, and the glory,” to “You fill me anew each moment with all I need to bring forth Your Love. You make me an instrument of Your Holy Song.” (the Energy… and the Song…)

“Forever,” to “And, I, in gratitude overflowing, can only sing,” (Forever)

Amen.

May these alternative translations from the prayer’s original language of Aramaic provide you with some interfaith soul food.

 

Rev. Camilla Sanderson lives in Temple and is presently practicing the art of creative nonfiction writing in a low-residency MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of “The Mini Book of Mindfulness.”


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