This past Easter Sunday I did a presentation on the Aramaic version of The Lord's Prayer. When one studies The Lord's Prayer in what scholars consider to be Jesus' original language, namely, Aramaic, one gets a very different sense of the meaning of the prayer than when one interprets it through modern English (which itself is an interpretation from the common (koina) Greek of the time, which in its turn is an interpretation of Jesus' original Aramaic). It is important to realize that since Jesus' time we are two languages and 2,000 years removed from the original...
The primary reason for the difference in our modern understanding of The Lord's Prayer and that of the original Aramaic is that the Greek language, in which the Gospels (and New Testament) have come to us and upon which our English versions are based, is infused with words and concepts that were not indicative of the words and concepts that comprised the mindset and perceptual lens of the Aramaic speaking Jewish people of the time. To make that very long story short, it is with this Hellenization of the original Aramaic that the corruption of Jesus' message began, albeit unwittingly... More on this, perhaps, at another time...
To return to the more immediate subject matter, my attempt at understanding The Lord's Prayer in the original Aramaic (see my attempt at the end of this post) takes off from the important work of Niel Douglass-Klotz (You may access his same material from which I worked, here. You may also visit his own web site here.) As Niel points out, and as you will see for yourself if you delve into his work, the Aramaic language is pregnant with words and concepts that are multifaceted, meaning that it can give rise to a great variety of interpretation. This is the primary challenge that faces anyone who makes an attempt to interpret from the original Aramaic. To support my effort, I drew upon Niel's own suggestions of the possible meanings of the original Aramaic phrases, my fading knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, my study of the mystics from across the world's many religious traditions, and my own spiritual practice and experience (Inner experience is an important litmus test of spiritual claims/truth.).
The result of my attempt follows. I believe, based on the aforementioned approach I took, that this interpretation is a reasonable interpretation of the original. Even if not, I believe most people will find it a meaningful approximation and aid in their prayer life.
(As a final note, contemplate the ethic of relationship that comes across so strongly in this interpretation. The Lord's Prayer was not merely a petition to the Divine. It was another attempt by Jesus to give us ethical marching orders.)
I am Dr. Riegel, minister at Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church. Enjoy my occasional blog posts here, which may cover subjects ranging from spirituality to psychology to ethics to social justice to church life and beyond...