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This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."

2019/09/24

Jesus' Radical Prayer II

The opening of the Lord's Prayer in the Codex Vaticanus
Matthew 6:9-11a
In Rutgers Presbyterian Church we use several different translations of the Lord’s Prayer. A number of these translations are based on dynamic equivalence. I personally prepared one translation which was primarily informed by the economic and social context of Jesus’ prayer and attempted to translate it into our current idioms. (Four Years ago I also summarized some of the exegesis and reasoning here  - Jesus' Radical Prayer I)

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Loving God of the highest authority:
In other words - heavenly parent. But “father” in the Ancient Near East context was primarily a figure of authority, especially if that figure was situated in the heavenly realm.
May what you stand for be the measure for everything.
That is an attempt to convey the concept of holiness and divine kingdom.
May the world be shaped as your love will have it:
Translating a petition which asks for divine rule to come from Heaven down on Earth.     

Preserve for us and future generations enough for everyone to live:
with fresh air to breathe, clean water to drink, a blue planet to inhabit.

In the Ancient Near East devastating famines were a regular occurrence and for many people in Jesus’ times their food security was a daily concern.
In our world the food security is also a painfully reality, but is ever more associated with an environmental devastation.

May our society be organized fairly, without anyone crushed by debt or need.
The original text clearly spoke about the debt-forgiveness. All other words (sins, trespasses etc.) are attempts to translate the original Aramaic word חובא which was debt/obligation/anything owed. Our translation is an idiomatic attempt to provide similar meaning of forgiveness of debts and social justice.
(By the way, the medieval “trespassing” was primarily aimed at destitute serfs who were driven to poaching in the vast holdings of their lords.)

Let the police and courts treat people justly, regardless of their class, nationality or race.
The original text requests protection from “being handed over to judgement/trial” either to the corrupt Jewish authorities or to the occupying Roman power. In our times when prisons are disproportionally full of black men, the poor and the mentally ill (not to mention recent highly problematic detention of Mesoamerican migrants), I think this is an accurate contextual translation.

With thanks we now submit ourselves under your bright and loving rule for ever.

And together we say - So be it!
The closing doxology is not biblical and I took freedom to translate it from the broader Greek context translating “kingdom, power and glory” and final “amen”. 




2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Doing a revision of an iconic text, or using a different version in the original language, can be frustrating for parishioners. However, it is always good to make people think. And this translation, because it is so different, will make people think seriously when they recite it. And I expect that it would be "eye-opening" for people to recite their normal version while they remember some of the nuances of this translation. Thank you.

Andrew Stehlik said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thank you for your comments. This translation was informed by Johanes C. deMoor "The Reconstruction of the Aramaic Original of the Lord's Prayer (1988) and his predecessors.
In respect of social context I used K.C.Hanson and D.E. Oakman "Palestine in the Time of Jesus" and D.E.Okman's book "Jesus and the Peasants".
Not being a native speaker of English, I acknowledge that the translation is not particularly suited for the liturgical use but I would love to work with anyone to give it more polished form.