The Semitic Theology of the Lord’s Prayer

Guest Writer V3 N2 2015

Introduction

Liturgical churches read the Lord’s Prayer weekly and almost nothing is taught to the members about the relevance of it to their spiritual growth or about its theology not to mention its Semitic roots. What you’re about to read are small summaries from the theology that originates in the Semitic mindset through which Our Lord taught the meanings of this prayer. This study is not a transliteration or even a word for word translation but a theological commentary about the Aramaic verses provided. What is needed is a paradigm shift from our Hellenistic Greek background to the Semitic mindset which later caused interference in the writing of the Greek text. In 1815 Fabre D’Olivet in his work The Hebraic Tongue Restored made the first step in reversing the trend of scholars utilizing only the Greek concepts in the biblical text. By 1901, the work of Reverend G. H. Gwilliam issued the Pashitta through the auspices of The United Bible Societies. By the 1930’s, the pioneering work of Aramaic scholar Dr. George Lamsa pointed out that the Church of the East considered this text the oldest and most authoritative form of the Bible. In recent years, Dr. Rocco A. Errico have taken up where Dr. Lamsa left off. Many of today’s scholars tend to accept the Aramaic roots of our Christian Gospels but do uphold Dr. Lamsa’s belief that the Pashitta is the oldest source for the Gospels. Others such as Roy Blizzard and David Biven have attempted to advance the Hebraic underpinnings of Our Lord’s teachings. This has been met with a great deal of opposition by contemporary scholars. The scholars mentioned above have all added a necessary component to our New Testament and Semitic studies without which scholars today would not have access to the beautiful theology of the Semitic background to the biblical text.

Avvon d-bish-maiya, nith-qaddash shim-mukh.
“… Our heavenly Father, hallowed is your name.

The term “Father” in a Middle Eastern setting shows the only being who has pure oneness and unity and who is the source of all power and stability. In other Aramaic prayers, the term Alaha literally implies complete oneness within Himself including male and female natures. The term Ab can also refer to spiritual or adoptive parents or to the father of Abraham Isaac and Jacob which began the tradition of the faithful In Semitic thought, God’s name is to be raised not only by the praise of His people but as an ensign to the world to make the Gentiles want to search out and serve God and respond to His loving kindness and justice. The reputation of God through the actions of His holy people is to be maintained at all costs.

Tih-teh mal-chootukh. Nih-weh çiw-yanukh: ei-chana d’bish-maiya: ap b’ar-ah.
Your Kingdom is come. Your will is done, As in heaven so also on earth.

Teyltey “Thy Kingdom Come” which is to meet a goal. The goal of life is the Kingdom. This is a declaration that the presence of God which is in His children will bring God’s justice and will to this Earth by the demonstration of the power of that Kingdom to transform the Sons of God into the Image of God Himself. In Semitic thought, one of God’s names was “Heaven”, says Lightfoot, showing His presence with His people which shows that in the Kingdom Age, the fullness of God’s reign would be in the New World.

Haw lan lakh-ma d’soonqa-nan yoo-mana.
Give us the bread for our daily need.

Daily bread in the Aramaic tongue implies all types of nourishment. Lakh-ma can also mean understanding which is an echo from Proverbs chapter 8 which implies that true wisdom from a king to his son is the substance of wise living.

O’shwooq lan kho-bein: ei-chana d’ap kh’nan shwiq-qan l’khaya-ween.
And leave us serene, just as we also allowed others serenity

In Aramaic forgiveness has many meanings: “to return to an original state of affairs” or “to restore relationships to what they were previously” before forgiveness was needed.

Oo’la te-ellan l’niss-yoona: il-la paç-çan min beesha.
And do not pass us through trial, except separate us from the evil one.

Don’t let us enter or don’t let us be seduced. In the Semitic mindset, righteousness can only be created when the people of God face evil obstacles which create the Sons of Meekness through God’s blessings and enables them to be citizens in the Kingdom of God. Each person has the inclination to listen to the voice of righteousness or to follow the voice or the inclination to do evil. It is a sense of inner shame that prohibits us from producing good fruit.

Mid-til de-di-lukh hai mal-choota oo khai-la oo tush-bookh-ta
For yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory

The collective ideals of the nation or the planet. These ideals come about by bringing the Creator’s will into unity with the activities which take place on earth.

l’alam al-mein.
To the end of the universe, of all the universes.”

The universe is the Aramaic term for “heaven” which is God’s abode from which the ancients believed the vaults in heaven were located to dispense blessings or cursings such as withholding rain from God’s people which would result from covenantal cursings. Because God is eternal, He dwells in the universe of universes.

Aa-meen.
Amen

“Sealed with faith and trust.” When one agrees with what has been spoken, the Aramaic gives the force of meaning that “I would give my life to uphold the words I have spoken” which is stronger than the Greek tradition of “Then, so be it” which implies “May it be so” showing general agreement. So one is binding oneself to a covenant agreement.

Suggested Reading

  • Blizzard, Roy, Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, Center for Judaic-Christian Studies, Austin, Texas.
  • Douglas-Klotz, Neil, trans, Prayers of the Cosmos – Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus, Harper & Row, Publishers, San Francisco.
  • Lamsa, George, Gospel Light: An Indispensable Guide to the Teachings of Jesus and the Customs of His Time, Harper & Row, Publishers, San Francisco.

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