Our Father is the basic prayer of Christians, the prayer we learn from childhood, but its mysteries are not known.
Especially the secret of “our daily bread”. But if the meaning of the text
was the original completely different? What if the first translations were not faithful to the original? More than 200 written versions of the Our Father prayer circulated in Romanian, each different from the other. Iosif Camară, a researcher in the humanities, studied them all.
“On the Meanings of Our Father’s Prayer”
He offered to guide us through the many transformations he has undergone in the last five centuries, through the various meanings he has sometimes acquired by changing a single word and the almost invisible cultural imprints kept by one of the best known.
Romanian texts, writes the portal of Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași, uaic.ro.
Our father / Our father / Ocinaș
“Our Father” seems to have appeared in order for the prayer to look more like the Latin text “Pater Noster”, the first version in which the term “father” appears, being intended for foreign intellectuals who were interested in the Romanian language. However, the explanation is completely different: it is a specific variant of the dialects from the north of the country (Moldova and Adreal area). It is not uncommon for books published in that area to change “father” to “parent”, and books
published in the south changed the term “father” to “father”. “Ocinaș” is the beginning of the prayer in Slavonic (otče našu), and in areas of Transylvania this title is still preserved and has the meaning of “prayer”. For researchers, this is an indication that in the past Romanians in that area prayed in Slavonic, reveals Iosif Camară.
Who are you in heaven / sky,
The singular “heaven” appears sporadically in the Romanian variants of prayer. The most likely explanation is that, in utterance, people used the singular because later in the text “heaven” appeared in the singular. Interesting
Hallowed be thy name;
In the original, it actually means “to be sanctified” and not reflexive: the name is sanctified by people, through their behavior. The idea is better explained in St. John Chrysostom, who says that the gospel should not have been written, but should have been deduced from the behavior of believers.
Thy kingdom come.
From the 16th century until today, the “living” version has been circulating for
May Your will be done,
as in heaven so on earth.
In the original Greek version, the word used means “to be made”, “to happen”, “to be produced”, but it sometimes replaces “to be”. The oldest Romanian translations had “fie”, a translation from Slavonic and Latin. “Becoming” appeared later, in the seventeenth century, under the influence of the Greek original, then disappears and returns a century later, becoming today the standard expression.
Tired bread / Our daily bread / The everlasting bread / Give us our daily bread today
Of all the passages in prayer, this was the most controversial and underwent the most transformations. Even today, there are two variants, the most used of which can be interpreted purely material – “everyday bread”, and the second – “our bread to being” with a mystical, spiritual, almost opposite to the concrete and material of daily existence.
In the first written translations of the prayer, the term used is “satiated”, a word that has always circulated among the people with reference to the property of food to be nutritious (today a related term is known more, “satiety”). From the study of the passage in the old Romanian versions, it was concluded that in the Slavonic text the word used was written similarly to “satiated”, but not identical, and the translation, even if appropriate as meaning in context, would not have been 100% correct. The “satiated” variant has been attested for two centuries.
In parallel, especially in the area of Transylvania, there was also the version “our everyday bread”, a translation that probably comes from Latin. It also appeared in the first Romanian translation of the New Testament, in 1648, and from there it was taken over in religious texts and has prevailed with this form until now.
A lesser known variant
A lesser known variant, but which is preserved to this day in Bessarabia, is “our eternal bread”, which has appeared in various translations for a century. The variant also appeared as an attempt to confer a mystical or metaphysical interpretation of the passage. In Romania, it can still be heard in services where “Our Father” is sung in the version composed by Ciprian Porumbescu, instead of the classic Anton Pann.
“Our Bread for Being” appeared in the early nineteenth century, thanks to a new translation from Greek. This was done under the influence of hesychasm, a mystical current that emphasized the concentration of the mind and inner peace. In 1850, Anton Pann made a musical version of the prayer, opting for this expression. It is sung in churches until now and is considered the norm, along with the “everyday”.
It is important to note that the two expressions used today can be considered, in fact, synonymous. “Towards being” can have the meaning of “to ensure existence”, and “everyday” has known mystical interpretations, which refer to the idea of eternity.
And forgive us our debts / mistakes,
as well as we forgive our debtors / mistakes.
Although the “debt / debtor” couple seems more modern and referring to the financial market, the terms are in fact older versions of the prayer, whether translated from Slavonic, Greek, or Latin. This request refers to the parable of the debtor who was forgiven by his emperor for a debt of 10,000 talents, but who, in turn, did not forgive a small debt of his brother. Duty here designates the good that man does not do and the evil that he does. But even in the passage that follows Matthew’s prayer, the meaning is made explicit, showing that by duty is meant sin. The equivalence with “mistakes”, which appeared in the West, but also in Romanian translations since the sixteenth century, was introduced precisely to eliminate the confusion related to a material interpretation of prayer.
And it does not lead us into temptation / calamity / haunting / temptation
In the Catholic world, at the end of 2017, this part of the prayer was the subject of news with headlines such as: “Have I misunderstood prayer in the last 2000 years?”. It all started with a statement by Pope Francis, who argued that the translation was wrong, and the prayer should be nuanced so that the meaning was “do not let us fall into temptation.”
In the Orthodox world, the passage was not so controversial. The transformations he went through, in the written versions, were related to the various synonyms of the word “temptation”. One of them is “haunting,” a word that is still preserved in religious services.
But deliver us from evil / the wicked / cunning
Several written versions referred to a widespread “evil” – all the misfortunes that happen. However, most translations contain the idea of a personalized evil – the Devil, this being the unanimous interpretation of the passage. The phrase “the cunning”, which still circulates today, appeared in the sixteenth century and was always preferred in Moldova, imposing itself due to the texts printed here.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
now and forever and ever.
Researchers speculate that the end of the prayer, known as doxology, probably did not appear in the original prayer. In the Bible, although our Father appears in two gospels – Matthew and Luke – this conclusion appears only in Matthew. Most likely, once it was taken over in the church services, there was a need for a closing formula.
Interestingly, “kingdom”, as a term referring to a historical reality, has been translated differently from one language to another, depending on the forms of government known to the speakers. In the Cumanian language, the prayer speaks of “Your inn”, in other parts of the world the version “sultanate” or “kingdom” appears. In Romanian, “Your kingdom” was imposed, during the Byzantine Empire, since many prayers for the emperor remained in the Orthodox tradition.
Amen / Truth
With a very limited circulation, the prayer also ended with “truth”, representing the Hebrew translation of “amen”. The role of the word is to reinforce what has been said before, with this use being present in other passages from the Bible, concludes Iosif Camară, researcher in the field of humanities.
Source: DoctorulZilei by www.doctorulzilei.ro.
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