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The Lord's Prayer is a central prayer in Christianity also commonly known as the Our Father and in Latin as the Pater Noster. In the New Testament, it appears in two forms: a longer form in the Gospel of Matthew
The context of the prayer in Matthew is a discourse deploring people who pray ostentatiously: Jesus instructs his listeners to pray in the manner prescribed in the prayer. Taking into account its structure, flow of subject matter and emphases, one interpretation of the Lord's Prayer is as a guideline on how to pray rather than something to be learned and repeated by rote. The New Testament records Jesus and his disciples praying on several occasions, but never this specific prayer, so the application and understanding of the prayer during the ministry of Jesus is unknown.
In biblical criticism, the prayer's absence in the Gospel of Mark together with its occurrence in Matthew and Luke has caused scholars who accept the two-source hypothesis (against other document hypotheses) to conclude that it is probably a logion original to Q.
On Easter Sunday 2007, it was estimated that many of the two billion Catholic, Anglican, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christians who were sharing in the celebration of Easter would read, recite, or sing the short prayer in hundreds of languages. Although theological differences and various modes of worship divide Christians, according to Fuller Seminary professor Clayton Schmit, "there is a sense of solidarity in knowing that Christians around the globe are praying together..., and these words always unite us."
The Lord's prayer as a Latin Gregorian Chant
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Given here is the Greek text of Matthew 6:9–13 and the Latin text used in the Catholic Latin liturgy.
Original text in Greek
Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς·
The Latin version of this prayer has had cultural and historical importance for most regions where English is spoken. The text used in the liturgy (Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, etc.) differs slightly from that found in the Vulgate Jerome is considered to be responsible for changes such as the use of "supersubstantialem" instead of "cotidianum" as a translation of "ἐπιούσιον" (epiousios) in the Gospel of Matthew, though not in the Gospel of Luke.
The doxology associated with the Lord's Prayer is found in four Vetus Latina manuscripts, only two of which give it in its entirety. The other surviving manuscripts of the Vetus Latina Gospels do not have the doxology. The Vulgate translation also does not include it, thus agreeing with critical editions of the Greek text.
In the Latin Rite liturgies, this doxology is never attached to the Lord's Prayer. Its only use in the Roman Rite liturgy today is in the Mass as revised after the Second Vatican Council. It is there placed not immediately after the Lord's Prayer, but instead after the priest's prayer, Libera nos, quaesumus..., elaborating on the final petition, Libera nos a malo (Deliver us from evil).
There are several different English translations of the Lord's Prayer from Greek or Latin, beginning around AD 650 with the Northumbrian translation. Of those in current liturgical use, the three best-known are:
The square brackets in three of the texts below indicate the doxology often added at the end of the prayer by Protestants and, in a slightly different form, by Eastern Orthodox ("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 ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen."), among whom the prayer proper is usually recited by the cantors and congregation in unison, and the doxology by the priest as the conclusion of the prayer. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer adds it in some services but not in all. Older English translations of the Bible, based on late Byzantine Greek manuscripts, included it, but it is excluded in critical editions of the New Testament, such as that of the United Bible Societies. It is absent in the oldest manuscripts and is not considered to be part of the original text of Matthew 6:9–13. The Catholic Church has never attached it to the Lord's Prayer, but has included it in the Roman Rite Mass as revised in 1969, not as part of the Our Father but separated from it by a prayer called the embolism spoken or sung by the priest (in the official ICEL English translation: "Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.") that elaborates on the final petition, "Deliver us from evil." For more information on this doxology, see Analysis, below. When Reformers set out to translate the King James Bible, they assumed that a Greek manuscript they possessed was ancient and therefore adopted the phrase "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever" into the Lord’s Prayer. Later scholarship demonstrated that the manuscript was actually a late addition based on Eastern liturgical tradition.
Other English translations are also used.
Though Matthew 6:12 uses the term debts, the older English versions of the Lord's Prayer uses the term trespasses, while ecumenical versions often use the term sins. The latter choice may be due to Luke 11:4, which uses the word sins, while the former may be due to Matthew 6:14 (immediately after the text of the prayer), where Jesus speaks of trespasses. As early as the third century, Origen of Alexandria used the word trespasses (παραπτώματα) in the prayer. Though the Latin form that was traditionally used in Western Europe has debita (debts), most English-speaking Christians (except Scottish Presbyterians and some others of the Reformed tradition), use trespasses. The Established Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Church of Christ, Scientist, as well as the Congregational denomination follow the version found in Matthew 6 in the Authorized Version (known also as the King James Version), which in the prayer uses the words "debts" and "debtors".
All these versions are based on the text in Matthew, rather than Luke, of the prayer given by Jesus:
The Lord's Prayer survives in the Aramaic language in the form given to it in the Syriac Peshitta version of the New Testament. The dialect of Syriac in which it is written is not the dialect that would have been spoken by Jesus of Nazareth or his followers. However, the dialects are quite similar.
Subheadings use 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) (see above)
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams explains this phrase as a petition that people may look upon God's name (which is his word, his presence) as holy, as something that inspires awe and reverence, and that they may not trivialize it by making God a tool for their purposes, to put others down or make themselves feel safe. He sums up the meaning of the phrase by saying: "Understand what you're talking about when you're talking about God, this is serious, this is the most wonderful and frightening reality that we could imagine, more wonderful and frightening than we can imagine."
The request for God's kingdom to come is commonly interpreted at the most literal level: as a reference to the belief, common at the time, that a Messiah figure would bring about a kingdom of God. Traditionally, the coming of God's kingdom is seen as a divine gift to be prayed for, not a human achievement. This idea is frequently challenged by groups who believe that the Kingdom will come by the hands of those faithful who work for a better world. These believe that Jesus' commands to feed the hungry and clothe the needy are the kingdom to which he was referring.
Scripture teaches that the "kingdom of God is in the midst of you" (Luke 17:21), or "within you" (
The noun βασιλεία may be translated as either kingdom or reign. The latter translation suggests that the petition is asking for a state of soul in which God reigns—i.e., a state of piety and humility, where one is directed by God, and does not rely on one's own devices, schemes, and imaginings (cf. Proverbs 3:5). Conversely, the statements could easily be eschatological in nature; the petitioner is asking for the swift arrival of the Day of the Lord, a collective state of being in which all of creation is completely under the control of God.
John Ortberg interprets this phrase as follows: “Many people think our job is to get my afterlife destination taken care of, then tread water till we all get ejected and God comes back and torches this place. But Jesus never told anybody—neither his disciples nor us—to pray, 'Get me out of here so I can go up there.' His prayer was, 'Make up there come down here.' Make things down here run the way they do up there.” The request that “thy will be done” is God’s invitation to “join him in making things down here the way they are up there.”
The more personal requests break from the similarity to the Kaddish. The first concerns daily bread. The meaning of the word normally translated as daily, ἐπιούσιος epiousios, is obscure. The word is almost a hapax legomenon, occurring only in Luke and Matthew's versions of the Lord's Prayer. (It was once mistakenly thought to be found also in an Egyptian accounting book.). Etymologically epiousios seems to be related to the Greek words epi, meaning on, over, at, against and ousia, meaning substance. It is translated as supersubstantialem in the Vulgate (Matthew 6:11) and accordingly as supersubstantial in the Douay-Rheims Bible (Matthew 6:11). Early writers connected this to Eucharistic transubstantiation. Some modern Protestant scholars tend to reject this connection on the presumption that Eucharistic practice and the doctrine of transubstantiation both developed later than this writing. Epiousios can also be understood as existence, i.e., bread that was fundamental to survival (as in the Syriac Peshitta, where the line is translated "give us the bread of which we have need today".). In the era, bread was the most important food for survival. However, scholars of linguistics consider this rendering unlikely since it would violate standard rules of word formation. Koine Greek had several far more common terms for the same idea. Some interpret epiousios as meaning for tomorrow, as in the wording used by the Gospel of the Nazoraeans for the prayer. The common translation as "daily" is conveniently close in meaning to the other two possibilities as well. Those Christians who read the Lord's Prayer as eschatological view epiousios as referring to the second coming—reading for tomorrow (and bread) in a metaphorical sense. Most scholars disagree, particularly since Jesus is portrayed throughout Luke and Matthew as caring for everyday needs for his followers, particularly in the bread-related miracles that are recounted.
The Presbyterian and other Reformed churches tend to use "debts ... debtors". Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Methodists are more likely to say "trespasses ... those who trespass against us". The "debts" form appears in the first English translation of the Bible, by John Wycliffe in 1395 (Wycliffe spelling "dettis"). The "trespasses" version appears in the 1526 translation by William Tyndale (Tyndale spelling "treaspases"). In 1549 the first Book of Common Prayer in English used a version of the prayer with "trespasses". This became the "official" version used in Anglican congregations.
After the request for bread, Matthew and Luke diverge slightly. Matthew continues with a request for debts to be forgiven in the same manner as people have forgiven those who have debts against them. Luke, on the other hand, makes a similar request about sins being forgiven in the manner of debts being forgiven between people. The word "debts" (ὀφειλήματα) does not necessarily mean financial obligations, as shown by the use of the verbal form of the same word (ὀφείλετε) in passages such as Romans 13:8. In Aramaic the word for debt is also used to mean sin. This difference between Luke's and Matthew's wording could be explained by the original form of the prayer having been in Aramaic. The generally accepted interpretation is thus that the request is for forgiveness of sin, not of supposed loans granted by God. Asking for forgiveness from God was a staple of Jewish prayers. It was also considered proper for individuals to be forgiving of others, so the sentiment expressed in the prayer would have been a common one of the time.
Anthony C. Deane, Canon of Worcester Cathedral, suggested that the choice of the word "ὀφειλήματα" (debts), rather than "ἁμαρτίας" (sins), indicated a reference to failures to use opportunities of doing good. He linked this with the parable of the sheep and the goats (also in Matthew's Gospel), in which the grounds for condemnation are not wrongdoing in the ordinary sense but failure to do right, missing opportunities for showing love to others.
"As we forgive...". Divergence between Matthew's "debts" and Luke's "trespasses" is relatively trivial compared to the impact of the second half of this statement. The verses immediately following the Lord's Prayer,
Interpretations of the penultimate petition of the prayer—not to be led by God into peirasmos—vary considerably. The range of meanings of the Greek word "πειρασμός" (peirasmos) is illustrated in The New Testament Greek Lexicon. In different contexts it can mean temptation, testing, trial, experiment. Traditionally it has been translated "temptation" and, in spite of the statement in James 1:12–15 that God tests/tempts nobody, some see the petition in the Lord's Prayer as implying that God leads people to sin. There are generally two arguments for interpreting the word as meaning here a "test of character". First, it may be an eschatological appeal against unfavourable Last Judgment, a theory supported by the use of the word "peirasmos" in this sense in Revelation 3:10. The other argument is that it acts as a plea against hard tests described elsewhere in scripture, such as those of Job. It can also be read as: "LORD, do not let us be led (by ourselves, by others, by Satan) into temptations". Since it follows shortly after a plea for daily bread (i.e., material sustenance), it can be seen as referring to not being caught up in the material pleasures given. A similar phrase appears in Matthew 26:41 and Luke 22:40 in connection with the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane.
Translations and scholars are divided over whether the evil mentioned in the final petition refers to evil in general or the devil in particular. The original Greek, as well as the Latin version, could be either of neuter (evil in general) or masculine (the evil one) gender. In earlier parts of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Matthew's version of the prayer appears, the term is used to refer to general evil. Later parts of Matthew refer to the devil when discussing similar issues. However, the devil is never referred to as the evil one in any Aramaic sources. While John Calvin accepted the vagueness of the term's meaning, he considered that there is little real difference between the two interpretations, and that therefore the question is of no real consequence. Similar phrases are found in John 17:15 and 2 Thessalonians 3:3.
The doxology of the prayer is not contained in Luke's version, nor is it present in the earliest manuscripts of Matthew, representative of the Alexandrian text, but is present in the manuscripts representative of the Byzantine text. It is thus absent in the oldest and best manuscripts of Matthew, and most scholars do not consider it part of the original text of Matthew. Modern translations generally omit it.
The first known use of the doxology, in a less lengthy form ("for yours is the power and the glory forever"), as a conclusion for the Lord's Prayer (in a version slightly different from that of Matthew) is in the Didache, 8:2. It has similarities with 1 Chronicles—"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all." In Orthodox Christianity and Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Churches, a similar doxology is sung within the context of the Divine Liturgy. Following the last line of the prayer, the priest sings "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 ever and unto ages of ages." Latin Rite Roman Catholics, as well as some Lutherans, do not use it when reciting the Lord's Prayer, but it has been included as an independent item, not as part of the Lord's Prayer, in the Roman Rite Mass. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer sometimes gives the Lord's Prayer with the doxology, sometimes without. Most Protestants attach it to the Lord's Prayer.
In the course of Christianization, one of the first texts to be translated between many languages has historically been the Lord's Prayer, long before the full Bible would be translated into the respective languages. Since the 16th century, collections of translations of the prayer have often been used for a quick comparison of languages.
The first such collection, with 22 versions, was Mithridates de differentis linguis by Conrad Gessner (1555; the title refers to Mithridates VI of Pontus who according to the testimony Pliny the Elder was an exceptional polyglot).
Gessner's idea of collecting translations of the prayer was taken up by authors of the 17th century, including Hieronymus Megiserus (1603) and Georg Pistorius (1621). Thomas Lüdeken in 1680 published an enlarged collection of 83 versions of the prayer, of which three were in fictional philosophical languages. Lüdeken quotes as a Barnum Hagius as his source for the exotic scripts used, while their true (anonymous) author was Andreas Müller. In 1700, Lübeck's collection was re-edited by B. Mottus as Oratio dominica plus centum linguis versionibus aut characteribus reddita et expressa. This edition was comparatively inferior, but a second, revised edition was published in 1715 by John Chamberlain. This 1715 edition was used by Gottfried Hensel in his Synopsis Universae Philologiae (1741) to compile "geographico-polyglot maps" where the beginning of the prayer was shown in the geographical area where the respective languages were spoken. Johann Ulrich Kraus also published a collection with more than 100 entries.
These collections continued to be improved and expanded well into the 19th century; Johann Christoph Adelung and Johann Severin Vater in 1806–1817 published the prayer in "well-nigh five hundred languages and dialects".
Samples of scripture, including the Lord's Prayer, were published in 52 oriental languages, most of them not previously found in such collections, translated by the brethren of the Serampore Mission and printed at the mission press there in 1818.
A translation of the Lord's Prayer is one of the few texts J. R. R. Tolkien ever wrote in his most expansive fictional language, Quenya, that he did not originally compose himself as part of his universe for The Lord of the Rings. Because Tolkien was a practicing Catholic, the doxology is excluded from his translation.
There are similarities between the Lord's Prayer and both biblical and post-biblical material in Jewish prayer especially Kiddushin 81a (Babylonian). "Hallowed be thy name" is reflected in the Kaddish. "Lead us not into sin" is echoed in the "morning blessings" of Jewish prayer. A blessing said by some Jewish communities after the evening Shema includes a phrase quite similar to the opening of the Lord's Prayer: "Our God in heaven, hallow thy name, and establish thy kingdom forever, and rule over us for ever and ever. Amen." There are parallels also in 1 Chronicles 29:10–18.
Rabbi Aron Mendes Chumaceiro has said that nearly all the elements of the prayer have counterparts in the Jewish Bible and Deuterocanonical books: the first part in Isaiah 63:15–16 ("Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation ... For you are our Father ...") and Ezekiel 36:23 ("I will vindicate the holiness of my great name ...") and Ezekiel 38:23 ("I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations ..."), the second part in Obadiah 1:21 ("Saviours shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD's") and 1 Samuel 3:18 ("... It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him"), the third part in Proverbs 30:8 ("... feed me with my apportioned bread"), the fourth part in Sirach 28:2 ("Forgive your neighbour the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray"). "Deliver us from evil" can be compared with Psalm 119:133 ("... let no iniquity get dominion over me."). Chumaceiro says that, because the idea of God leading a human into temptation contradicts the righteousness and love of God, "Lead us not into temptation" has no counterpart in the Jewish Bible/Christian Old Testament.
The word "πειρασμός", which is translated as "temptation", could also be translated as "test" or "trial", making evident the attitude of someone's heart. Well-known examples in the Old Testament are God's test of Abraham (Genesis 22:1), his "moving" (the Hebrew word means basically "to prick, as by weeds, thorns") David to do (numbering Israel) what David later acknowledged as sin (2 Samuel 24:1–10; see also 1 Chronicles 21:1–7), and the Book of Job.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not use the Lord's Prayer in worship. They believe that Jesus gave it as an inspired example for correct prayer and not as a set text to be repeated using "vain repetitions".
The Book of Mormon includes a version of the Lord's Prayer in an account of Jesus' sermon to a people in the Western Hemisphere shortly after his Resurrection. The English phraseology strongly resembles the text of Matthew in the Authorized King James Version of the New Testament. It includes the doxological ending, generally considered by critical scholars to be a later interpolation to Matthew from The Didache of the Twelve Apostles. The Book of Mormon account records that Jesus taught the entire Sermon on the Mount, with several slight differences to the version contained in Matthew.
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in the Sermon on the Mount
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in the Sermon on the Mount