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Aramaic and the Lord's Prayer

Updated on March 1, 2013

Was it just happenstance? On their first visit to the town, the writer and his partner stopped at a church bookstore. Normally it was closed that day, but the manager was on a step-ladder removing art from the walls. The couple had gone by on an impulse to ask if the store might have interest in carrying their artwork.

The manager saw the prints and exclaimed, "That is just what we need on our walls! I am changing the display today and this would be perfect."

The couple was happy to modify their idea for the afternoon and instead hang art prints. Then she said, "The church has a guest speaker this Sunday. I have a feeling you would enjoy her class."

First Exposure to the Aramaic Language of Jesus

The speaker had been a Catholic nun for more than thirty years, and now travels and teaches on the Aramaic language of Jesus with translations by Neil Douglas-Klotz, founder of the International Network for the Dances of Universal Peace and former faculty member of the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality.

As the couple listened to her knowledgeable and passionate presentation, and felt the sound frequency of the Aramaic, they were transfixed. Perhaps the writer felt it more than his partner, or in a different way, as she had grown up in Communist East Germany without religion. The writer, however, was raised Catholic and later in life practiced Christianity with a Bible under his arm. The traditional verses still echoed in him, and the impact of the translation from the language Jesus spoke was immensely freeing and expanding.

The Lord's Prayer from the King James Version

For example, these are the words of the Lord's prayer as written in the King James Bible (Authorized Version, 1611) of the book of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 9-13:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

The Lord's Prayer from the Aramaic Language of Jesus

The modern scholar, Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz, points out that the Aramaic language lends itself to multiple interpretations and offers variations in his books. Here is one rendition from the Peshitta (Syriac-Aramaic) version of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 9-13

O, Birther of the Cosmos, focus your light within us — make it useful
Create your reign of unity now
Your one desire then acts with ours,
As in all light,
So in all forms,
Grant us what we need each day in bread and insight:
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
As we release the strands we hold of other’s guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
The power and the life to do,
The song that beautifies all,
From age to age it renews.
I affirm this with my whole being.

An Expanding Experience when Felt in the Heart

The writer found the initial connection with the Aramaic was the most powerful for him, as it was the moment when it was most felt in his heart. The scholarly approach is respected yet tends to settle in the head as an intellectual understanding. When he returns to the verses and feels them, in their vast space, it still speaks to the writer's spirit. Though the prayer seems addressed to an external being, the Hubmaker hears it as a prayer within the multiverse, the Creator/Creation, the One in All.

Following this introductory story, each verse of the Lord's Prayer is matched, Aramaic to the King James Version, with the writer's art.

Thank you for your presence.

Credits and Acknowledgements

The Prayer of Jesus in Aramaic ("The Lord's Prayer"): Transliteration and original translation by Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz from the Peshitta (Syriac-Aramaic) version of Matthew 6:9-13 & Luke 11:2-4. Reprinted from Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus (Harper Collins, 1990). © 1990 Neil Douglas-Klotz. All rights reserved, including the right to reprint in whole or in part.

Images are (c) copyright 2012 Gary R. Smith and available as prints.

Backgrounds are by Ilker, Litkei Márton and Luca Sorin, who generously agreed to their work being used in this way. The hand-drawn original designs and mixed media work are by the Hubmaker.


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