Something that the Pope said about translations of the Lord’s Prayer has made the news recently, and connects (albeit indirectly) with a subject that I was already planning to blog about. One of my older posts that continues to generate interest and discussion is a blog post about Neil Douglas-Klotz’s so-called “Original Aramaic Lord’s Prayer,” which in fact offers words that cannot be called a translation of the Lord’s Prayer as we find it in Aramaic or any other language. It scarcely qualifies as a paraphrase. It is rather a new prayer that is based very, very loosely on the Lord’s Prayer.
Although sticking slightly closer to the original, John Shore’s “New Age Translation of the Lord’s Prayer” is also a radical rewriting rather than a translation. Here is what he wrote:
Our genderless spirit guide
who art in everything,
honored be thy names.
Thy new age come,
thy will be manifested,
on this and on all cosmic planes.
Break with us our daily gluten-free unleavened bread,
and forgive us our bad karma,
as we forgive those
who project their bad karma onto us.
Lead us not into negative vibrations,
but deliver us from organized religion.
For ours is the harmonic unity, the empowerment, and the glory,
forever and ever.
Personally, this does not seem at all appealing to me even as a completely new prayer. And at moments it seems to be intended as parody rather than as something that one could take seriously, much less actually pray. But the most important point that needs to be made is that the question of whether words resonate with you or are meaningful to you personally has no bearing on the question of whether those words accurately translate words in another language. The two are separate questions.
Sorry if my comments on it lead you into “negative vibrations.”
Much preferable is Charles Allen’s offering of the prayer “as he hears it,” being honest that what he has come up with is not a translation, but the way he would put it if he crafted the prayer today, and thus what he has in mind when he prays the ancient version as part of Christian liturgy.
The Lord’s Prayer As I Hear It
in, among and beyond us all,
defy us when we invoke your name to serve our own ends.
Open us and our world to the new life you are bringing,
and sustain us through our daily cares.
Bring peace to our conflicts with you, with others, with ourselves,
and shine through our fears of failure and death.
For our life together dwells always in the radiance of your empowering.
Let it be.
Of related interest, see Daniel Wallace on translation and interpretation, my post about a psalm misidentified as the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer, and Jeffrey Gibson’s book on the subject, The Disciples’ Prayer. Does anyone happen to know how the Lord’ Prayer is rendered in David Bentley Hart’s translation? Slightly more distantly related are a couple of open access journals that will allow you to read about Bible translation in other languages – Spanish and French. And CSTT and Gender is in English but comes from Helsinki and so includes contributions from scholars for whom English is not their native language.