When the writings that became the Christian gospels were translated from the original Aramaic in which they were spoken into the Greek in which they were written into the Latin in which they were taught throughout Europe into the English in which most of us Americans learned them, quite a bit was lost in the translation. And this particularly applies to the “prayer that Jesus taught.”
According to the gospels, Jesus was responding to the disciples who were asking ‘How then shall we pray?” This is important, because the Hebrew men then, like their Muslim cousins today, prayed a long prayer of forgiveness, gratitude, and praise 5 times every day. The disciples understood that they were being given a different kind of understanding and that meant a different kind of practice.
What the gospels tell us is that Jesus replaced that very long ritual prayer with a short, summary version, to be expressed with feeling–a deep emotional connection that begins with the very first words. In the ritual prayer these are “Baruch a tov Adonai Elohim:” “Blessed are You, Lord of all Beings.” But Jesus started, instead, with “Abwoon” which is a very loving term addressing the source and nurturer of one’s life. This term of endearment completely transforms the feeling, and so tells the disciples to pray in a very different way. The English words “Our Father” barely come close.
Other phrases in the prayer were also different from what the common English translation says, and if we use what Jesus says in other parts of the gospels to help us “translate” them, we get a very different meaning.
Here’s my version, based on that analysis: Continue reading How can I understand the Lord’s Prayer so that it makes sense to me today?