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Aramaic Lord's Prayer


A couple of years back I was given a copy of the Lord's prayer in translation from Aramaic. I was concerned: there was clearly a lot more content here than a simple translation would warrant and the thought-forms did not sit well with first century Judaism. It was actually a paraphrase or 'midrash' recast in terms of esoteric philosophy. So not really a translation. Then I discovered that there's a lot of this stuff about ...

The good stuff - sites that pass on helpful information

These are the sites that purvey good information, history, understanding of translation and so on.

  • Klotz in his own words
    Here's what Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz says of the 'translation': "Each word in Aramaic can be interpreted several different ways. This is particularly true of the words of a mystic or prophet. In the Jewish tradition, this of multiple interpretation, in
  • A historical view
    This is a good look at the history of the matter in terms of the linguistics and social realities of the time as well as the textual considerations. A bit of a myth-buster. The author, Jack Kilmon, writes "I hope a closer look at the linguistic, cult
  • From qaddish to text
    Jesus introduced an Aramaic variant of the Jewish Qaddish to his followers... lots of good historical and textual info here.
  • Another version of the Lord's Prayer
    This page, from The Co-Intelligence Institute, starts with six "Poetic Renditions of the Aramaic Lord's Prayer". Then there is a very helpful comment discussion about the status of these 'poetic renditions' as translations, paraphrases etc. There is
  • Translation From The Aramaic - NOT!
    A succinct set of reasons why this isn't a translation.
  • The Aramaic Blog
    What do all of these "Translations" have in common? They exploit (whether intentionally or unintentionally) the unfortunate fact that the general public knows little to nothing about the language. From a scholarly standpoint, these translations have

The hall of shame - sites passing on bad or duff info

Sites talking about the Aramaic Lord's prayer with inaccurate information about translation, provenance, history or other errors or misleading inferences.

  • Aramaic, Latin and English...
    Here's an example of how things are misrepresented "A translation directly from the Aramaic into English (rather than from Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English)." First: it implies that this is provenly what Jesus actually passed onto the apostles. T
  • Historical mistakes
    Actually a really good example of misinformation being passed off as accurate. Here are some of the bigger errors. -"Aramaic manuscripts have been uncovered over the years which provide us with original source documents". I think you'll find that sim
  • Our father in Heaven
    In styling itself "Translations regarding Our Father" this site repeats the error about what is fair to label 'translation'. In addition there is some dubious use of the individual sounds of the words which doesn't reall bear scrutiny though I imagin
  • 'Errors' in The Lord's Prayer
    Repeats a lot of inaccuracies such as the idea that 'our' moderen English Lord's prayer is a translation of older English, which is a translation of old English translating Latin, translating Greek but not Aramaic. Remember, mod English versions are

My own 'net comments - from my own blogging

collected comments from my own blogs when I have come across and commented on the Lord's prayer in Aramaic.

  • The start
    This is the post that, effectively, got me started.
  • 'Midrash' comment
    The original midrashic translator, Klotz, explains "possible interpretive translations of the Aramaic"
  • The picture ...
    ... at the top was blogged here.
  • Nouslife: The Lord's Prayer in Aramaic yet again
    A more extended commentary on a posting that repeats a lot of common misinformation and inaccuracies, so good way in to getting another slant on translation, originality, paraphrasing, language and ideology as well as a quick explanation of the real
  • 'Errors' in The Lord's Prayer
    A lot in here about the kind of cultural reasons for the popularity of the esoteric paraphrases of the Lord's prayer and why someone might want to think they are simple translations.
  • A mini review of the book
    Among other things this posting has a few examples from English of the kind of linguistic errors the book perpetrates.

The issue according to me

a bit of a rant on why it matters

my Hebrew is not extensive but enough that when combined with training in linguistics and biblical interpretation I can tell when a 'midrash' is being offered. A version of the Lord's prayer which was used by Aramaic speakers (Syriac) has been taken and 'translated' in a dynamic equivalence sort of way and some further work done on it in terms of expanding some of the words or phrases to offer an interpretive gloss.

The interesting thing is the way a spurious 'authority' is gained for a philosophical framework which is probably not really consonant with Jesus's but using Jesus' words. That Jesus' authority is sought is probably significant. It is also worth noting what terms are fairly comprehensively reinterpreted and how.

I would have to say that it translates Jesus' thoughts into a thought frame that is not his originally and which therefore may appear to have him endorse views of life, the universe and everything that he may not recognise as [at all?] consonant with his message in important ways.

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Just to illustrate my contention about 'overtranslation'; "Abwon" is ab, a common Semitic root for "father", the 'won' corresponds to the Hebrew 'nu' meaning 'our'. Simple, there is no real justification to translate ""Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes," than there would be to translate the French "notre Pere" in that way, or the German "Unser Vater" likewise, or "padre nuestro", or "Ein Tad", or "Pater noster" ... to do more than translate as "our Father" is to engage in a kind of ideological sleight of hand and it would be somewhat dishonest to knowingly pass it off as if it were a simple translation of the "=our father" sort which is the way that it was presented to me. It is a commentary, someone's view of how the word[s] might be rendered in terms of a particular preunderstanding of spiritual life that is not directly attributable to Jesus. Is it faithful? That's another issue. But by passing it off and passing it on as if it were a simple translation that question is being avoided and implicitly answered in a way that really deserves more scrutiny.

If the so-called translation was distributed as a commentary or a meditation on the Aramaic in the light of a perspective informed by the Philosophia Perennis, for example, I would not cavil. But...

The irony is that many of those who pass this off as translation are, in fact, doing just the kind of thing that they (mistakenly) castigate the church for doing: hiding the truth ...

Linguistic Resources - things that can help understand the language issues

  • Aramaic language resources
    James Aitken's Homepage with links to resources on the Aramaic language. It seemed that this might be helpful to some!
  • Hebrew script Aramaic
    Here is the prayer in Aramaic in the modern Hebrew script. There's an interlinear English translation. It is pointed, so you can work out the vowel sounds as well. The really good thing is that you can click on the Aramaic word and be taken to a page
  • Can You Get There from Here? Problems in Bible Translation
    A general intro from a bible translator about translation issues. Useful background by Roger Omanson who is a translation consultant for the United Bible Societies, based in New York.
  • The Lord's Prayer
    Commetary on the recent translation of the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom by Orthodox Churches in Great Britain. Interesting to show the translation issues arising from the Greek texts and giving an insight into the way that translation works for such
  • Phrase by phrase translation
    about three quarters of the way down this page is a transliteration + translation: Our Father a woon |who [is] in the heavens d'wash-maya holy be nith-ka-dash | your name shmakh let come tay thay |your kingdom mal coo-thakh let be neway | your desire
  • The Lord's Prayer in Hebrew - Part 1
    The Lord's Prayer in Hebrew - Part 1. Obviously not Aramaic but it may be useful for comparison as they are related languages.
  • The Lord's Prayer
    A good, authoritative rendering of the Lord's prayer into American English orthography -so 'o' instead of 'a' for the long 'Ah' sound -low rounded back vowel. Further links to other linguistic resources on Aramaic.
  • Aramaic of Jesus
    A description of what we know and suppose about the linguistic situation in Galilee and Palestine at the time of Christ. "most scholars see the Old Syriac and Peshitta versions of the New Testament as clearly based on the Greek. However, the fact rem
  • Aramaic language at AllExperts
    A quote; "Besides these dialects of Aramaic, Greek was used extensively in urban centres. There is little evidence for the use of Hebrew during this period. Some Hebrew words continued as part of Jewish Aramaic vocabulary ..., and the written languag
  • Greek in the Galilee of Christ
    There's a good deal of speculation here. It is certain that Koine Greek WAS spoken "between those of different nationalities" in first-century Palestine, and it was surely the dominant language in some Palestinian communities, especially in the so-ca
  • The Language of the New Testament
    "... the memories of the disciples who heard Jesus say these things. They were thinking in Aramaic, but they wrote them down in Greek, similar to Arab students who study in the Hebrew University think in Arabic, but write their thoughts down in Hebre
  • Hebrew Usage in the First Century
    It is probable that Jesus spoke Greek as well as Aramaic, assuming the Gospels are reporting literal events. Consider the encounters in the Gospels where Jesus spoke directly with Greeks (non-Jews) in Greek territories: Gedara/Gerasa (Decapolis ("Ten
  • When is a translation not a translation?
    While talking about how 'The message' is not really a translation of the Bible, we get insight into what the issues are with the so-called translations of the Aramaic Lord's prayer. It is "a ... running expository restatement of the text. The exposit
  • Peshitta - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    ... It is thought that the separate gospels circulated in a Christian Palestinian dialect of Aramaic during the period that the Diatessaron circulated in the Syriac community. These source gospels, if they existed at all, were translations from Koine
  • asphaleia: Glossed in Translation
    Glossed in Translation Translation, parahrase, glosses, literal, meaning, fidelity, dynamic equivalence and similar terms and ideas helpfully laid out by a translator well versed in biblical languages.
  • Aramaic Thoughts with Benjamin Shaw
    A quick expose of one of the most typical errors of translation committed by purported 'translations' of the Lord's prayer and those who pass them on.
  • The Aramaic Blog: O Father-Mother Birther of the Cosmos?!
    Abwun dvashmaya (Our father who is in heaven.) abwun = our Father d-va-shmaya = of whom/which - in - heaven Nethqadash shmakh (May your name be holy.) nethqadash = will be holy shmakh = your name Note: The imperfect or "future" tense can be used in

'Translations' from Aramaic - -really paraphrases, midrashes or meditations

collection of Lord's prayers in English which are supposed to be based on Aramaic.

  • Neil Douglas-Klotz's original
    Oh you, breathing life in all, origin of the gleaming sound, you shine in us and around us, even the darkness glows when we remember. Help us to draw a holy breath, in which we feel only you and my your sound ring in us and purify us. May your counse
  • Dancing with the Aramaic Jesus
    This one adds a few bits, presumably to fit the music. 1. Abwoon d'bwashmaya. O Birther! Father Mother of the Cosmos, you create all that moves in light. Allaha Allah Elohim Elat ~ Names of Oneness in the Native Middle Eastern Christian, Islamic, He
  • 'Translated' by Mark Hathaway
    O cosmic Birther of all radiance and vibration! Soften the ground of our being and carve out a space within us where your Presence can abide. Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of our mission. Let each of our a
  • The mystical prayer of Jeshua
    O Breathing Life, your Name shines everywhere! Release a space to plant your Presence here. Envision your "I Can" now. Embody your desire in every light and form. Grow through us this moment's bread and wisdom. Untie the knots of failure binding us,
  • The Lord's Prayer Translated from t'Oringinal Aramaic
    Reported at Benvolio's e-hyper domain space arena circus forum A further paraphrase being passed off as a translation. This one's a bit more conservative and less indebted to esoteric philosophy. Here's a snippet: "Our Father, who is throughout the u
  • A 'translation' by Matthew Fox
    Posting on Olive Spiral - green Christianity
  • Abwoon - Wikisource
    1 The Lord's Prayer in Aramaic1.1 The version in Jewish Aramaic used by Talmidi Jews 2 The Lord's Prayer in Syriac2.1 From the Syriac Peshitta [Aramaic translations of the Gospels] of Matthew 6:9–13 # 2.2 The version used in the Syriac Orthodox Churc
  • Syriac gospels translate from Greek
    In Matt 3:7, John calls those Pharisees and Sadducees who have come out to him "brood of vipers." The Syriac word for "viper" is simply a transliteration of the Greek echidna, and is not the Hebrew/Aramaic nachash that is used in the Old Testament. .

The Lord's Prayer in Syriac

using Syriac script

This is the language used by many Orthodox Christians in the middle East

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Further ideas - Spin-offs from the renditions inspired by the Aramaic

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