Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Aramaic Words of Jesus

I'm reading "Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus" by Neil Douglas-Klotz. I just started it but already it speaks volumes to me. Aramaic is the language Jesus would have spoken. Most of the modern Christian understanding of the Bible and the words of Jesus came to us through translations from Greek rather than directly from the Aramaic. Greek is a very male oriented language- meaning that it favors the masculine over the feminine, the intellect over intuition and body, and hierarchy over cooperation. I'm just learning about Aramaic (and thinking I may want to learn to read Aramaic) but what I'm learning is that is honors both the feminine and masculine and integrates body, mind and spirit by words sometimes having several nuanced meanings. From the introduction of the book:
"Unlike Greek, Aramaic does not draw sharp lines between means and ends, or between an inner quality and an outer action. Both are always present. When Jesus refers to the "kingdom of heaven," this kingdom is always both within and among us. Likewise, "neighbor" is both inside and outside, as is the "self" that we are to love to the same degree as our "neighbor." Unlike Greek, Aramaic presents a fluid and holistic view of the cosmos. The arbitrary borders found in Greek between "mind," "body," and "spirit" fall away.
"Furthermore, like its sister languages Hebrew and Arabic, Aramaic can express many layers of meaning. Words are organized and defined based on a poetic root-and-pattern system, so that each word may have several meanings, at first seemingly unrelated, but upon contemplation revealing an inner connection. The same word may be translated, for instance, as "name," "light," "sound," or "experience.
"...In addition, the Aramaic language is close to the earth, rich in images of planting and harvesting, full of views of the natural wonder of the cosmos. "Heaven" in Aramaic ceases to be a metaphysical concept and presents the image of "light and sound shining through all creation."

Here is the King James version of the Lords Prayer:

"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.
(Matthew 6:9-13)

And here is one way of translating it from the earliest known version in Aramaic (which preceded any Greek version):

"Our Birth in Unity"
"O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos,
you create all that moves
in light.

O Thou! The breathing Life of all,
Creator of the Shimmering Sound that
touches us.

Respiration of all worlds,
we hear you breathing-in and out-
in silence.

Source of Sound: in the roar and the whisper,
in the breeze and the whirlwind, we
hear your Name.

Radiant One: You shine within us,
outside us-even darkness shines-when
we remember.

Name of names, our small identity
unravels in you, you give it back
as a lesson.

Wordless Action, Silent Potency-
where ears and eyes awaken, there
heaven comes.

O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos!"

(If you click on this link:
you can hear a song recording of the original in Aramaic. It's beautiful.)


Mark said...

I was researching some Aramaic words and I came across this. Thank you for the beautiful translation of the "Our Father". GBY :)

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Anonymous said...

Awesome, how amazing is this. It is so beautiful and i love it so much. I am a christian and it really deeply inspires my soul to learn another language such as aramaic. Thanks for your time and devotion to researching this

Friendly Mama said...

It is beautiful. Thank you for inviting me to revisit this post!
Mary Linda