Brad Stevens : Austin, TX

... A Historical Account of the Most Well Known Prayer in the Christian Religion



For a better look at the prayer, let's review its origins. In the latter part of the second century, Matthew translates the Lord's Prayer in rather crude Greek, behind which one can still sense the original Aramaic. The commonly accepted version of the Lord's Prayer is the version of Matthew. This version however is admitted to be grossly inaccurate. It contains sixty-six words. The Revised Version of Matthew contains but fifty-five. Twenty-four words either do not belong to the prayer, or have been misplaced; while words which do belong to it have been omitted. In this regard, John E. Remsberg, author of The Christ writes: "If the custodians of the Christian Scriptures have permitted the prayer of their Lord to be corrupted to this extent, what reliance can be placed upon the genuineness of the remainder of these writings?"

The Lord's Prayer, like so many more of the precepts and discourses ascribed to Jesus, is borrowed. Dr. Hardwicke, of England, says: "The so-called 'Lord's Prayer' was learned by the Messiah as the 'Kadish' from the Talmud."

The Kadish, as translated by Christian scholar, Rev. John Gregorie, is as follows:

"Our Parent which art in heaven, be gracious to us, O Lord, our God; hallowed be thy name, and let the remembrance of thee be glorified in heaven above and in the earth here below. Let thy kingdom reign over us now and forever. The holy men of old said, Remit and forgive unto all men whatsoever they have done against me. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil thing. For thine is the kingdom, and thou shalt reign in glory for ever and for evermore."

The eminent Swiss theologian, Dr. Wetstein, says: "It is a curious fact that the Lord's Prayer may be constructed almost verbatim out of the Talmud. The Sermon on the Mount is derived largely from the teachings of the Essenes, a Jewish sect to which Jesus is believed by many to have belonged."

In the early Church, the Christians living in the eastern half of the Roman Empire added the doxology ("For thine is the kingdom ect.") to the Gospel text of the Our Father when reciting the prayer at Mass. Evidence of this practice is also found in the Didache (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles), a first-century manual of morals, worship and doctrine of the Church. (The Didache also prescribed that the faithful recite the Our Father three times a day.) Also when copying the scriptures, Greek scribes sometimes appended the doxology onto the original Gospel text of the Our Father; however, most texts today would omit this inclusion, relegate it to a footnote, or note that it was a later addition to the Gospel. Official "Catholic" Bibles including the Vulgate, the Douay-Rheims, the Confraternity Edition, and the New American have never included this doxology.

In the western half of the Roman Empire and in the Latin rite, the Our Father was always an important part of the Mass. St. Jerome (d. 420) attested to the usage of the Our Father in the Mass, and St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) placed the recitation of the Our Father after the Canon and before the Fraction. The Commentary on the Sacrament of St. Ambrose (d. 397) meditated on the meaning of "daily bread" in the context of the Holy Eucharist. In this same vein, St. Augustine (d. 430) saw the Our Father as a beautiful connection of the Holy Eucharist with the forgiveness of sins. In all instances, the Church saw this "perfect prayer which the Lord gave" as a proper means of preparing for Holy Communion. However, none of this evidence includes the appended doxology.

The English wording of the Our Father that is used today reflects the version mandated for use by Henry VIII, which was based on the English version of the Bible produced by Tyndale (1525). Later in 1541 after his official separation from the Holy Father, Henry VIII issued an edict saying:

"His Grace perceiving now the great diversity of the translations of the Pater Noster hath willed them all to be taken up, and instead of them hath caused an uniform translation of the said Pater Noster, Ave, Creed, etc., to be set forth, willing all his loving subjects to learn and use the same and straitly [sic] commanding all parsons, vicars, and curates to read and teach the same to their parishioners."

This English version without the doxology of the Our Father became accepted throughout the English-speaking world, even though the later English translations of the Bible including the Catholic Douay-Rheims (1610) and Protestant King James versions (1611) had different renderings of prayers as found in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Later, the Catholic Church made slight modifications in the English: "who art" replaced "which art," and "on earth" replaced "in earth." During the reign of Edward VI, the Book of Common Prayer (1549 and 1552 editions) of the Church of England did not change the wording of the Our Father nor add the doxology. However, during the reign of Elizabeth I and a resurgence to rid the Church of England from any Catholic vestiges, the Lords Prayer was changed to include the doxology.


The Prayer To Our Father in the Original Aramaic:

Abwn O cosmic Birther, (from whom the breath of life comes,)

d'bwaschmja (who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.)

Nethkdasch schmach (May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiest.)

Tt malkuthach. (Your Heavenly Domain approaches.)

Nehw tzevjnach aikna d'bwaschmja af b'arha. (Let Your will come true in the universe (all that vibrates) just as on earth (that is material and dense).)

Hawvln lachma d'snkann jaomna. (Give us wisdom (understanding, assistance) for our daily need,)

Waschbokln chaubn wachtahn aikna daf chnn schwoken l'chaijabn. (detach the fetters of faults that bind us, (karma) like we let go the guilt of others.)

Wela tachln l'nesjuna (Let us not be lost in superficial things (materialism, common temptations),)

ela patzn min bischa. (but let us be freed from that what keeps us off from our true purpose.)

Metol dilachie malkutha wahaila wateschbuchta l'ahlm almn. (From You comes the all-working will, the lively strength to act, the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age.)

Amn. (Sealed in trust, faith and truth. (I confirm with my entire being))

The Lord's Prayer in Greek
Matthew's second century mistranslation of the Lord's Prayer in crude Greek
(commonly accepted version of the Lord's Prayer from which all others are translated)

Pater hmn ho en toes ouranoes;
hagiastht to onoma sou;
elthet h basileia sou;
gentht to thelma sou,
hs en ouran, kae epi ts gs.
ton arton hmn ton epiousion dos hmin smeron;
kae aphes hmin ta opheilmata hmn,
hs kae hmeis aphiemen toes opheiletaes hmn;
kae m eisenenks hmas eis peirasmon,
alla rhysae hmas apo tou ponerou.
hoti sou estin h basileia kae h dynamis kae h doxa eis tous aenas;

The 'Pater Noster' in Latin:
Prior to the Protestant Reformation, the Our Father was universally recited in Latin by clergy and laity alike. Hence it was then most commonly known as the Pater noster. The rather curious English translation we have today is due to Henry VIII's efforts to impose a standard English version.

Pater Noster, qui es in caelis,
Sanctificetur nomen tuum.
Adveniat regnum tuum,
Fiat voluntas tua,
sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
Et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
Sed libera nos a malo.

The Lord's Prayer Old English (c. 450-1100)
This version of the Lord's Prayer probably isn't recognizable by the majority of modern English speakers. 1000 AD is before the Norman invasion of England and therefore many of the words in Modern English that were taken from French are not yet present in the Language.

Fder ure u e eart on heofonum si in nama gehalgod tobecume in rice gewure in willa on eoran swa swa on heofonum urne gedghwamlican hlaf syle us to dg and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa we forgyfa urum gyltendum and ne geld u us on costnunge ac alys us of yfele solice.

The Lord's Prayer Dated 1384 AD
Most modern English speakers should be able to understand some of this version of the Lord's Prayer when written. Spoken it would sound a great deal different; for instance, ou is pronounced like oo and in general the vowels have their continental value (oorra fahderr thut arrt in ai(r)venas ulwid bai(r) thee nahma, with trilled rr). Note the use of the letter , this has essentially the same value as "th" in modern English.

Oure fadir at art in heuenes halwid be i name;
i reume or kyngdom come to be.
Be i wille don in here as it is doun in heuene.
yeue to us today oure eche dayes bred.
And foryeue to us oure dettis at is oure synnys as we foryeuen to oure dettouris at is to men at han synned in us.
And lede us not into temptacion but delyuere us from euyl.
The Lord's Prayer Dated 1611 AD (King James Bible)
Most modern English speakers should be able to understand this version of the Lord's Prayer. Note the use of u in place of v. It is not until fairly recently that u an v have been considered separate letters.

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 debters.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

The Lord's Prayer Dated (1700-)

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 New Testament in Modern English (1963, tr. Phillips)

According to the New Testament, the Lord's Prayer is the name given to the only form of prayer Christ taught his disciples (Matt. 6:9-13). The closing doxology of the prayer is omitted by Luke (11:2-4), also in the R.V. of Matt. 6:13. This prayer contains no allusion to the atonement of Christ, nor to the offices of the Holy Spirit. All Christian prayer is based on the Lord's Prayer, but is also guided by that of His prayer in Gethsemane and of the prayer recorded by John 17. The Lord's Prayer is now comprehensive, the simplest and most universal form of prayer.

Our Heavenly Father, may your name be honored;
May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day the bread we need,
Forgive us what we owe to you, as we have also forgiven those who owe anything to us.
Keep us clear of temptation, and save us from evil.

In Luke's far simpler version, 11. 2-4 NIV, it has become:

"'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'

Once a student of history begins to understand the history of religion and the influence of the early Church on holy manuscripts, it is also not difficult to realize that the early and modern day Church has largely influenced the interpretations and, indeed, put words into and taken words out of their Lord's mouth. Even though preeminent scholars, through extensive research, now have found many of the interpretations to be incorrect, the modern day church still holds fast to their teachings.

It is also intriguing that the misinterpretations that the modern day Church chooses to hold steadfast are also needed to continue dominating and controlling their masses. For interpreting otherwise would lead followers to believe that 'heaven' is here and now ... is in each one of us ... only if we align ourselves with the Spirit of God.

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Copyright 2000 BRAD STEVENS all rights reserved worldwide
Austin, Texas