The Original Language of the Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Prayer is also known as the "Our Father." Others have argued that it should be known as the "model" prayer or the "disciples" prayer. The idea for calling the "Model" prayer is because it is like a template for Christians to model their prayers upon. The idea for calling it the "Disciples" prayer is that Jesus composed ti not for himself but for his followers. But since it was composed by Jesus (or Yeshu(a) of Nazareth) who is held to be "Lord" by Christians and since this has passed into common usage, this is what I am going to call it.
The evidence points to Aramaic being the original language of the Lord's Prayer. First, when Jesus is quoted praying in his original language the language is Aramaic. When Jesus prays of the cross of Golgotha (Aramaic for "Skull Place" , he says in Aramaic-"Eloi, Eloi lama sabackthani" This is "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?" The words here are Aramaic and not Hebrew which would have been "Eli, Eli lama azabtani." Here in Mark 15:34 Jesus is giving the Aramaic Targum rendering of Psalm 22 verse 1. (The New Testament presents Aramaic as the language of Jesus. Jesus gave out Aramaic names to his disciples, such as Cephas (Aramaic for Peter), Thomas (Aramaic for "Twin") Magdalene (Aramaic for "Tower"), Boanerges (Aramaic for the "Sons of Thunder" who were James and John) He used Aramaic when healing, saying "Talitha Qumi" to the daughter of Jairus which means "Little Girl, Arise," in Aramaic. Although we only have translations of his teachings, Aramaic words embedded in the text, words such as Raca and Mammon, point to the fact that Jesus was speaking this language.)
Another significant prayer is the Gethsemane (Aramaic for "Olive Oil Press") Prayer. In Mark 14:36 it states, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will." Here the Aramaic word for Father-Abba, is used. The Hebrew word, once again is different, it is "av." There are two things significant in this prayer, first is Jesus' use of the Aramaic word Abba for "Father." Many Aramaic scholars feel this is a very intimate term and would more accurately be translated as "Daddy" or "Papa." The Fatherhood of God is a major and a unique focus of the teaching of Jesus. In the Gospels God is called "Father" over 100 times. (Two Aramaic terms seem to have been very important in the teaching of Jesus: Abba, Father and The Son of Man-Barnasha-which is used over 80 times in the Gospels.) Many scholars feel that the Lord²s Prayer in its original form began with a simple "Abba." The second important point from the Gethsemane Prayer is its similarity with "the Lord's Prayer with its "thy will be done" which is also found in the Lord's Prayer."
The second indication that Aramaic is the original language is its similarity with the ancient Aramaic Jewish prayer called the Kaddish. The most thorough study of the Kaddish has been undertaken by David De Sola Pool. He described the Lord's Prayer as the "twin sister" of the Kaddish. In his introduction into his study he says,
I hope too that it may contribute towards a fuller appreciation of the New Testament, by showing from a fresh point of view its Jewish background and framework, the Jewish coloring of much of its most characteristic phraseology, and especially by a consideration of the form and origin of the Paternoster [Latin for "Our Father"], the twin sister of the Kaddish.
Another evidence for the Aramaic origin of the Lord's Prayer is the use of uniquely Aramaic phraseology in the Lord's Prayer. Sebastian Brock in his book The Hidden Pearl describes the evidence.
"A further important pointer to Aramaic is provided by the two different versions of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9-15 and Luke 11:2-4: while Matthew has 'and forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtor' (verse 12), Luke has 'and forgive us our sins, as we forgive everyone who is indebted to us' (verse 4). In Aramaic, but not in Hebrew of this period, the words for 'debt', 'debtor,' are frequently used in the sense of 'sin', 'sinner'; in Matthew we have a literal translation of the underlying Aramaic words, while in Luke, in the first half of the verse, there is a more idiomatic rendering.
Here are the two different versions of the Lord's Prayer:
Luke 11: 2-4
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread;
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves forgive our debtors;
And lead us not into temptation
Matthew 6: 9-13
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed by thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day
Our Daily bread
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven
Everyone who is indebted to us;
And lead us not into temptation But deliver us from evil. [For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever, Amen]
(In parables of Jesus we see sin and forgiveness of sin often compared to an acquired debt such as Luke 7:41.) We must also remember the "Maranatha" prayer of 1 Corinthians 16:22. It means translated from the Aramaic "Come, Our Lord" and evokes the "Thy Kingdom Come" of the Lord's Prayer.
It is also important to note that when Jerome was researching the Lord's Prayer he consulted the Aramaic form found in the Gospel of the Nazoreans. (Jerome found the word "M'har" in the ancient Aramaic form of the Lord's Prayer in referring to the "daily bread.") Jerome was interested in seeking clarity in his understanding of the Lord's Prayer. In order to do this, he tracked down what he believed to be the original Aramaic version of Matthew's Gospel.
Possible Reconstructions of the Lord's Prayer
When examining the Lord's Prayer we are going to look at its background in Aramaic. (For those interested in evidence of Aramaic being the language of Jesus, please refer to my book "Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth."
I want to mention reputable Aramaic scholars. This includes Gustav Dalman, C.F. Burney, Matthew Black, Sebastian Brock, Bruce Chilton and Maurice Casey. I want to look at how the Lord's Prayer has been reconstructed in Aramaic by some of these experts. Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls most New Testament scholars would use the Aramaic of the Jerusalem Talmud to reconstruct the words of Jesus. The problem with this is that this Talmudic Aramaic is from a later period than that of Jesus as the Talmud was written hundreds of years after the time of Jesus Christ. Now, we have the Dead Sea Scrolls. With the Dead Sea Scrolls we now have Aramaic manuscripts from the time of Jesus Christ and before. Contemporary New Testament scholars such as Maurice Casey have reconstructed portions of the Gospel back into Aramaic using the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In his book "Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography" Bruce Chilton offers this reconstruction:
Abba, yitqadash shemakh, tetey malkhuthakh,
Hav li yoma lakhma dateh,
Ushebaq li yat chobati, veal taeleyni lenisyona.
This is Joachim Jeremias's reconstruction of the Lord's Prayer which has been described by Maurice Casey as "a sound basis for exegesis."
Abba, yithqaddash shmakh, tethe malkuthakh, lahman delimhar, habh lan yoma dhen,
Ushbhoq lan hobhain, kedhisch bhaqnan lhyyabhain we la tha-elinnan le nisyon.
There is an ancient form of Aramaic called Syriac. This form of Aramaic is very similar to, but not exactly identical with, the Aramaic spoken by Jesus. Syriac is important because important ancient manuscripts of the Bible and other ancient Christian writings have been preserved in this language. In his "The Hidden Pearl" Sebastian Brock shows the similarity of the traditional ancient Syriac rendering of the Lord's Prayer with a possible reconstruction using the Aramaic of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Sebastian Brock states, "Given that the original language of the Lord's Prayer must have been Aramaic, scholars have attempted to reconstruct its Aramaic wording. As will be seen from the table [below], these reconstructions are for the most part very close to the Syriac form of the Lord's Prayer still in regular use today. Although the current Syriac form was translated from Greek, one can be certain that Palestinian and Edessene Aramaic (Syriac) in the first century would have been mutually intelligible dialects of Aramaic.
Our Father who is in Heaven
R. yithqaddah shmakh
S. nethqaddash shmakh
E: May your name be sanctified
R: Tethe malkuthakh
S: Tethe Malkuthakh
E: May Your Kingdom come
R. yeth'bed r'uthakh/sinyonakh
S: Neweh sebyanakh
E: May your will be done
R: Hekhma'hekh d-bi-shmayya
S: Aykana d'ba'shmayya
E: As in Heaven
R: ken'al ar'a
S: aph 'al ar'a
E: Also on earth
R: lahman d-li-mhar/d-yoma
S: Hab lan lahma
E: Our bread for this day
R: had lan yoma den
S: d-sunqanan yawmana
E: Give us this day
R: U-shboq lan honenan/-na
S: wa-shboq lan hawbayn
E: And forgive us our debts
R: hekh di anahna
S: aykana d-aph hnan
E: As we too
R: shbaqnan li-d-hayyabin lan
S: shbaqnan l-hayyabayn
E: Have forgiven our debtors
R: w-la-ta-elinnan l-nisyon
S: w-la ta'lan l-nesyona
E: and do not let us enter temptation
R: ella shezeban/passinan min bisha
S: ella passan men bisha
E: But deliver us from the evil one.
For those interested in the similarity of Hebrew and Aramaic and those who would like to see the Lord's Prayer in Hebrew I have included a Hebrew Version of the Lord's Prayer.
Our Father who is in Heaven,
May your name be sanctified.
May you continue establishing your Kingdom.
May Your will be done,
In Heaven and on earth
Forgive us our sins as we also have forgiven those who
Have sinned against us.
Et lechem choo-key-noo
ten lah-noo hah-yohm oos-lach lah-noo al cha-ta-ey-nu,
k'mo sheh-sul-chim gahm ah-nach-noo la-chot-eem-la-noo.
Do not bring us into the grasp of temptation
V'ahl t'vee-ey-noo lee-day nee-sah-yohn,
But deliver us from the evil one.
kee eem chal-tsay-noo meen hah-rah.
For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory Forever. Amen.
Kee l'chah hah-mahm-la-chah v'hahg'voo-rah v'hah-teef-eh-ret le'ol-mey oh-lam-meem ah-meyn.
Worship Services at the time of Jesus
What was the synagogue worship that Jesus participated in like? (Interestingly, the words Synagogue and Sanhedrin are derived from the Greek. This shows that the Holy Land at the time of Jesus was tri-lingual. Aramaic was the common language but Hebrew and Greek were also spoken.) Services began with the Sh'ma in Hebrew "Hear O Israel, the Lord, our God, the Lord is one God!" then continued with the Shemoneh Esray (also known as the 18 benedictions), then the reading of the Scriptures in Hebrew was given, which was followed by the translation of the selected passage into Aramaic. The Aramaic translation is called the targum and it was recited from memory by the meturgeman. Then a sermon was given. The service was closed with the Kaddish prayer.
Certain Jews rejected temple worship and instead of worshiping in the Temple, they went out into the desert. This includes groups such as the "Qumran Community" that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls and John the Baptist and his followers. From their point of view the temple worship was not valid because of ceremonial reasons. Other Essene groups seem to have rejected animal sacrifices altogether. Reform groups such as the Kenites stressed a return to the wilderness.
The Lord's Prayer in the Original Aramaic
In has been confirmed by scholars that Jesus composed this famous prayer in Aramaic and not in Hebrew, Greek or Latin. To understand the Lord's Prayer properly we must study it in Aramaic. Very few people have attempted to understand the Lord's Prayer by studying it in the original Aramaic. The best work available in which this is done is by Joachim Jeremias and is entitled The Prayers of Jesus. How do we know that the Lord's Prayer was composed in Aramaic and not in Hebrew or Greek? Sebastian Brock notes, "A further important pointer to Aramaic is provided by the two different versions of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9-15 and Luke 11:2-4: while Matthew has 'and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors' (verse 12), Luke has 'and forgive us our sins and we forgive everyone who is indebted to us' (verse 4). In Aramaic, but not in Hebrew of this period, the words for 'debt,' 'debtor', are frequently used in the sense or 'sin', 'sinner'; in Matthew we have a literal translation of the underlying Aramaic words, while in Luke, in the first half of the verse, there is a more idiomatic rendering." So it is either "sins" or "debts" and not "trespasses" as it is often incorrectly recited. Since Jesus spoke these divine words it is important that we recite them correctly and not tamper with or alter the words spoken by God as many have done. Why was it changed to 'trespasses'? Perhaps it is because many people don't want to deal with the reality or the gravity of their sins. The idea of being indebted and being obligated to forgive debts owed is also uncomfortable and challenging. Perhaps the meaning of the word has changed over time. Believers need to take the teachings of Jesus very seriously and once we know better it is important to quote Jesus accurately and pray in the manner he instructed us to.
In Jesus, the Middle Eastern Storyteller
by Gary M. Burge this book says on page 32, "Prayer was likely spoken in Hebrew, the language of the Torah, which in Jesus' day was not a language spoken by the common person. The language of the street was Aramaic, another Semitic language related to Hebrew and acquired by Israel during its Babylonian exile. Therefore regular prayer would have been highly stylized, following a language that was awkward to the average person. Jesus likely stood out in two respects: he prayed in Aramaic and he prayed casually, even conversationally. His prayers do not reflect any of the set forms of his day (no blessing of the nation, land, or temple); they are instead expressions of personal concern. For example, in Matthew 6:7 he is critical of prayers that are filled with "babbling" and instead urges that prayer be heartfelt, private and sincere because God will particularly hear all secret prayers uttered with honesty. This is the moment when Jesus gives his followers a sample of how prayer ought to sound-what we know as the Lord's Prayer (Matth. 6:9-13). In Luke 11:2-4 we find a shortened version of this prayer. The Lord's Prayer is a model prayer that reflects the concerns that need to appear in prayers, and most scholars agree that Jesus no doubt taught it in Aramaic. The opening word "Father" (11:2) reflects the Aramaic word "Abba," and this was so well known as Jesus' habit in prayer that it became a liturgical form used in Greek speaking churches in Paul's day (Rom 8:15, Gal. 4:6)." The point here is that Jesus is praying in Aramaic.
Another indication of the Aramaic origin of the Lord's Prayer is the similarity between it and the Kaddish. The Kaddish is an ancient Aramaic prayer that dates to the time before the ministry of Jesus Christ. The Kaddish is still often recited by the Jews especially as a mourner's prayer. (The Kaddish is not a prayer for the dead. The Kaddish is a prayer for the mourner to remember to rejoice even in sorrowful times.) Joachim Jeremias also noted the Aramaic origins of the Lord's Pray in The Prayers of Jesus. He states that at the time of Jesus, "It is true that the Kaddish which served to round off the synagogue service is in Aramaic [rather than Hebrew]. But this is an exception due to the fact that the Kaddish is the prayer which the preacher ended his sermon, which was delivered in Aramaic. In contrast with the [Hebrew prayers] Shema and Tephilla, the Lord's Prayer is an Aramaic prayer. This is shown by the words…which are typical Aramaisms, and by the way in which the first two petitions directly echo the Kaddish. Moreover the invocation of God as 'Abba", coined by Jesus, is also Aramaic, as is finally the cry from the cross (Mark 15:34). Thus Jesus not only prayed in his native tongue in his private prayers, he also gave his disciples a formal prayer couched in the vernacular when he taught them the Lord's Prayer. In so doing, he removes the prayer from the liturgical sphere of sacred language and places it right in the midst of everyday life."
Some people argue that the "Our Father" should not be called the Lord's Prayer. These people believe it is more appropriate to call it the Disciples Prayer, since it was to be the prayer to be prayed by the apostles, or the Model Prayer, since it serves as a model for us to structure our prayers after. It has also been called 'Jesus' Blueprint for Prayer' It is said the actual Lord's Prayer is Christ's 'High Priestly Prayer" found in the Gospel of John (John 17). There may be some point to these objections but the "Our Father" as the Lord's Prayer has past into general usage and it is the central prayer composed by the Lord Jesus the Messiah for his followers.
So why should we study the Lord' Prayer in Aramaic? The first reason is because that is how it was originally uttered. Rocco Errico provides a good secondary reason, "It is very difficult, when translating from one language to another, to retain the authentic impact and power of a certain word or thought. We usually lose something through translation. This task is even more challenging when it involves such vastly different cultures as our Western culture and that of the Near or Middle East. For example, this has been and is still a problem in translating the Bible from Eastern Semitic tongues (Aramaic and Hebrew) into Western languages."
The Lord's Prayer contains the essence of the entire teachings of Jesus, his Good News, or Joyful Message, that he preached wherever he traveled in the Holy Land. It also contains the basic message of the Torah and the Prophets.
Sebastian Brock noted that there are two different versions of the Lord's Prayer in the New Testament. Brad Young in The Jewish Background to the Lord's Prayer also notes this and highlighted the differences.
Luke 11: 2-4
Hallowed by thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Give us each day our
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves forgive
Everyone who is indebted to us;
And lead us not into temptation
Matthew 6: 9-13
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed by thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our
And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven
And lead us not into temptation But deliver us from evil.
[For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever. Amen.]
Luke is the shorter version that has come down to us and some scholars believe that Matthew's version represent an expanded version of the Lord's Prayer. But this isn't necessarily so. Sometimes due to constant repetition words become too familiar and lose their power. Thus, it is helpful to look at a recent translation where this prayer is worded differently. In God's New Covenant: A New Testament Translation by Christian Jew Heinz W. Cassirer the Prayer of Our Lord is translated in the following manner;
Father of ours, you who have your dwelling place in heaven:
May your very name be treated as holy.
May your Kingdom appear.
May your will be accomplished on earth as it is accomplished in heaven.
Provide us this day with the bread that is needful to us.
Remit us the debts we have incurred against you
as we have done to those who owed us a debt.
And do not bring us to the point of being put to the final test.
On the contrary, come and rescue us from the evil one.
The complete Lord's Prayer, with the benediction, is found in the ancient book called the Didache, which dates from 70- 125 AD. Interestingly, after giving the prayer in says to pray it three times a day, in accordance with Jewish tradition. Here is the Lord's Prayer in the traditional form that is recited by Aramaic Christians.
Aykana dwashmayya aph ara
Hab lan lakhma dsunqanan yowmana
Washboq lan hawbayn aykanan dap hanan shwaqnan l-hayawayn
Wa la talain lnesyona
Ella passan min beesha
Mittol d'lakh hee malkootha wa khaylan w tishbookhta alalam almeen Amen.
Aramaic is still spoken by the Assyrian and other Aramaic Christian communities in the Middle East. Here are two examples of the Lord's Prayer in Modern Aramaic:
An Assyrian Aramaic dialect:
Baban d ile be shmayya
Payesh mqudsha shemmukh
Hawe ejbonukh, dekh d ile be shmayya,
Hadakh ham b ar'a/
Hallan lekhma snoqyan kud yum.
Shwoq talan gnahe diyan,
Dekh d ham akhni shweqlan
Ta anay de mtu'delay ellan.
La mabirettan l juraba,
Ella mkhaleslan men bisha,
Msabab diyukh ila malkutha, w khela, w shuha l abad abadin.
The Aramaic Dialect of Maloula:
Oboh ti beshmo yetchkattash eshmakh yethele malkouttakh tchethkan ti tchbal'ele
Ekhmel beshmo khet 'a ar'a apleh lehmah imoth iyannah yomah. Khufrleh hteiothah ekhmel anah nkhufril ti 'laihon hteiothan wiofash btchekhlennah btche'rebyotha bes haslennah mbishtcha. Amen
Our Father which art in Heaven
Here we find a central doctrine of Jesus' teaching, the Fatherhood of God. In Aramaic this is Abba. It isn't our right to address God as our Father but a privilege to those who are adopted into the family of God through the agency of the Holy Spirit on the basis of their faith in Jesus the Messiah.
Some Aramaic scholars believe that in its original form the Lord's prayer began with "Abba", which means "loving father" or perhaps more accurately "daddy". The great Baptist theologian Doctor John R. Rice stated, "The word "Abba" is a very intimate Aramaic term for father, and it would not be amiss to translate it "papa" or 'daddy." It seems a little irreverent perhaps at first glance, but actually it would not be amiss for us to feel like calling our Heavenly Father "Our Daddy who is in Heaven," The better a father is, the better an image is of God who is the Father of all those who are born again, born into His family as the children of God." Calling God our Father is a gift to those who are born again into the family of God by faith. Jesus said that for one to enter the Kingdom of God we must do so as a child. Children at the time of Jesus had no rights and were dependent upon others to provide for them and to protect them.
Before believers came into the family of God they were in a perilous situation. They were "fatherless". In the Old Testament Yahweh is "A Father of the fatherless, a defender or widows, is God in his holy habitation" (Psalm 68:5). I have traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and in both Egypt and Palestine I saw very young single mothers holding their infants begging in the streets. In the Middle East be fatherless is to live a life of shame and poverty. If a child is conceived of an unmarried woman, regardless of the circumstance, the child and mother are condemned to live alone without family or home. In the Old Testament Yahweh calls himself a Father to the Fatherless. If we chose God can be our Father as well.
The form "Our Father" is important because it stresses community against individualism. Ancient Semitic cultures knew the importance of belonging and working together in order to survive. To survive it was necessary to belong to a tribe or a clan. We come to God in his community. God's children need to commune together in a fellowship. This is stressed in the teachings of Jesus in his Lord's Prayer. We must not be individualistic. It is not "My Father" but "Our Father" in how Jesus instructed his children to pray. With these words Jesus establishes the church.
Praying to God as Father is an awesome privilege that we should do with utmost reverence, even though it in Aramaic is the intimate form Abba, which means "Daddy". John Chrysostom prayed, "And make us worthy, O Lord, that we may joyously and without presumption may make bold to invoke thee, the heavenly God, our Father, and to say, Our Father…" Ken Hemphill notes, "There was more reverent fear and distance in the mind of the first-century Jew when they thought of God. They would not have dared to address him with such an air of familiarity as "Father."" Much less, the intimate form "Abba'-Daddy!" Jesus, and he as Messiah alone, empowers us to call upon God as Father.
Abba is the word Jesus used to express God as the Loving Father. 'Abba' is a uniquely Aramaic word. It is not Hebrew. The Hebrew word for 'father' is 'Avi'. It is not Greek. The Greek word for 'father' is 'pater'. In Aramaic 'Abha' is the word for 'father' and 'Abba' means 'daddy'. Aramaic was the language of Jesus and the first Christians. Today it is the language of the Assyrian and Chaldean Christians of the Middle East. In Judaism, Aramaic was, and it still is, a language of the Jews (although very few Jews speak Aramaic today, only a small tribe of Iraqi Jews do and they number about 10,000 and they all now reside in Israel). Important Jewish literature and prayers, such as the Talmud, the Kaballah, and the Kaddish, are in Aramaic. One important Aramaic Jewish prayer that was written in the Middle Ages is called the Aktamot. The Aktamot was translated into English and made into a Christian hymn by Rev. F. M. Lehman in 1917.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill.
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
O Love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song.
This hymn, which was written in the language of Jesus, conveys an important aspect of Christ's teaching on the unfathomable love of God. It was composed by Rabbi Meir ben Yitzchak in the 11th century in Germany. Translated from the Aramaic it says,
In introduction to the words,
And commencement of my speech,
I begin by taking authorization and permission.
I shall commence with trembling…
His is the eternal strength that could not be described-
Even if the heavens were parchment,
And the forests quills,
If all the oceans were ink, as well as every gathered water,
If the earth's inhabitants were scribes
And recorders of initials-
Christ's teaching of the Fatherhood of God was a radical new message but it did have an Old Testament precedent. God referred to the nation of Israel as his son. Moses said to Pharaoh, "Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my Son, even my first-born. And I say unto thee, "Let My son go, that he may serve me" (Exodus 4: 22) There are other important scriptures were God is the father to the nation of Israel.
Yet, O Lord, thou art Our Father,
We are the clay, and thou are our potter (Isaiah 64:8)
A son honors his father,
And a servant his master.
If I am a Father, where is my honor?
If I am a master, where is my fear (Malachi 1:6)
An important passage shows that God in the Old Testament desired to have a relationship with Israel as a Father, but this desire was rejected by Israel and this special relationship that God desired to have with mankind had to wait until the proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom of God by Jesus the Messiah.
I thought how I would set you among my sons,
And give you a pleasant land,
A heritage most beauteous of all nations.
And I thought you would call me, My Father,
And would not turn from following me.
Surely, as a faithless wife leaves her husband,
So you have been faithless to me, O house of Israel (Jeremiah 3: 19)
The Davidic King was considered the Son of God in a special way. Of the Son of David God spoke and said, "I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son" (2 Samuel 7:14). This is Messianic in significance and is why Jesus was called in Aramaic Bar-Dawood, the Son of David (Mark 10:47). He had the right to call God his Father. This special prerogative of the Son of David, the Messiah, is seen also in Psalm 2. But as Joachim Jeremias says, with Jesus' doctrine of Abba, "We are confronted with something new and unheard of which breaks through the limits of Judaism. Here we see who the historical Jesus was: the man who had the power to address God and Abba and who included sinners and the publicans in the kingdom by authorizing them to repeat this one word, 'Abba, Dear Father'." It is important to note that God's eternal nature is that of Father. God is about relationships. That is why he desires relationship with people. God's eternal triune nature is about a relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. At Ephesians 3:14 St. Paul states, "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ from whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth is named." This is a direct translation from the Greek. Most modern translations, including the King James Version, read "every family" rather than "all fatherhood". The original Greek has "all fatherhood".
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee. Take away this cup form Me; nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt" (Mark 14: 36). Never in Judaism before Jesus did any rabbi dare to address God as "My Father" as Jesus did. Jesus also instructed his follows to pray to Our Father as he did. The use of the word 'Abba' is very important because it is what scholars call "ipissima vox", the original voice, or "ipissima verbo", the authentic words. There is no doubt that this was the exact word Jesus spoke. And Jesus always prayed to God as Father. How important is this saying of Jesus? No less than 170 times in the Holy Gospels does Jesus call God 'Father'.
Abba is however a mystery, a special revelation that comes only through Jesus Christ. The Messiah said, "All things are delivered unto Me by My Father, and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father, except the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him" (Matthew 11: 27). Paraphrased from the Aramaic this means, "Only Father and Son truly know each other. And because only a father and a son truly know each other, therefore a son can reveal to others the innermost thoughts of his Father." So, only Jesus can pass on to others the real knowledge of God. This is further shown in John 14: 8:
Phillip said unto him, "Lord, show us the Father and it will suffice." Jesus said unto him, "Have I been so long a time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Phillip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, 'Show us the Father'? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself; but the Father dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me…
How important is Christ's teaching about God as Abba? Joachim Jeremias stresses it in as such a way as to say that Jesus "goes as far as to say that only he who can repeat this childlike Abba shall enter into the Kingdom of God." This is why Jesus says "Let the little children come unto me" (Mark 10:14) and "Unless you humble yourselves and become like little children you shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of God" (Matthew 18:3-4) and "Unless a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3) Repentance means a turning away from sins but for the Christian it is more than that because we believe in salvation by grace through faith and not a works based salvation. Joachim Jeremias also says, "Becoming a child again means: to learn to say Abba again. This brings us to the meaning of repentance. Repentance means learning to say Abba again, putting one's whole trust in the heavenly Father, returning to the father's house and the Father's arms…repentance of the lost son [here Jeremias is referring to the Parable of the Prodigal Son] consists in his finding his way home to his father. In the last resort, repentance is simply trusting in the grace of God."
The Aramaic word "Abba" was used and understood in churches that were founded by Paul, such as those in Galatia but it was also used in churches not founded by Paul, such as Rome. (The Greek word for Father is Pater.) The two passages in which Paul refers to God as Abba are very significant. The first one is Galatians 4:6
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, "Abba, Father." Therefore thou art no more a servant but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
What is important here is the agency of the Holy Spirit in adopting us into the family of God. This same theme is picked up in Romans 8: 15
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh to live according to the flesh, for if ye live according to the flesh ye shall die, but if ye through the flesh do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God. For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit itself bears witness with our sprit that we are the children of God; and if children then heirs,-heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if so it be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
The greatest difficulty is humiliating or humbling ourselves as children. In our human nature we cannot do this, and this is why we must be born again. In both of Paul's Abba passages he notes that it is through the agency of the Holy Spirit that we are empowered to address God as "Abba". Carlo Caretto reminds us of the difficulty of becoming like a child and embracing God as Abba-Daddy.
"If you do not become like little children you shall not enter the Kingdom," and that's not easy for those who have been complicated by sin. To become like children means to increase our feeling for God's fatherhood over us, it means to think and act as little children do to the father they love. He looks after everything, he resolves everything and so on. When does a little child ever worry about tomorrow? Never, the father takes care of it…All our plans, even on the road to holiness, are perfectly useless: the real plan is in His hand and we need to go to Him like children seeking love. I want to become little so I can run more swiftly towards the great final fire…no holding back, just trust in the immense mercy of the One who immolated His Son to save a slave."
Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us that we may be called the Sons of God! (1 John 3:1). We were not born as the Sons of God naturally. In our original nature we are fallen. We must be born again in order to become children of God. God loves us so much. The Bible says that God is Love (1 John 4:8). God desires a relationship with us but we must be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God (Jon 3:3). We are saved by trust; that is by trusting in Jesus as our Savior. The only way to do this is to make Jesus our Lord.
God is our eternal Father. But we are not to remain children but to grow in the Lord. Paul says that, "for whom he foreknow, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren" (Romans 8: 29). Paul says that we are to be conformed to the image of the Son of God yet he warns us, "be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12: 2).
We are saved but what are we saved from? Not just hell, but the hell we make of our lives with hate, anger, gluttony, greed, indulgence, unforgiveness, selfishness and sexual sin. We are saved unto love, mercy, compassion, kindness, joy, happiness and unto good works. No man can serve two masters, Jesus warns us. He will either love the one and hate the other, or hold to the one and despise the other. Love the Lord, hold on to Him and make Jesus your first love. Jesus calls us to be lost in the Love of God. Jeremias stated that:
But if it is true-and the testimony of the sources is quite unequivocal-that Abba as an address to God is ipsissima vox, an authentic and original utterance of Jesus, and that this Abba implies the claim of a unique revelation an a unique authority-if all this is true, then the position regarding the historical Jesus just described is untenable. For with Abba we are behind the Kerygma. We are confronted with something new and unheard of which breaks through the limits of Judaism. Here we see who he historical Jesus was: the man who had the power to address God as Abba and who included the sinners and the publicans in the kingdom by authorizing them to repeat this one word, 'Abba, dear Father.'
(See Joachim Jeremias The Central Message of the New Testament (SCM press LTD, London 1965, p. 30).) Fatherhood is a universal concept. The idea that Jesus and the writers of the New Testament want to connect with God as Father isn't just the current cultural norms and mores of fatherhood but also the biological act of begetting. Fathers begetting is inherent in being a father no matter what culture you are born into. Frank Stagg in his New Testament Theology notes that, "It was Jesus' function to "being many sons into glory" (Hebrews 2:10). He could only do this by expiating (overcoming) the sins of the people (2:17). He also identified himself with us as our brother (2:11), having fellowship (koinonia) with "blood and flesh, that he could break the power of sin and death for us (2:14f)." (See Frank Stagg New Testament Theology, Broadman Press, Nashville TN 1962, p. 69.) The Eternal Son of God, who is eternally begotten of the Father, took upon himself human flesh so that we may be born into the family of God. This is done by us being, as Stagg notes, "Begotten from above". Stagg says, "Newness of life is described through the "birth" analogy, but probably the stronger New Testament emphasis is seen in its tracing the new life to a divine begetting. John 3:3 may best be translated; "Except one be begotten from above, he is not able to see the kingdom of God." The familiar "born again" misses the meaning at two points. The Greek anothen means "from above" not merely again. It is not just another beginning but a new kind of beginning that is required…Man needs more than improvement; a new destiny requires a new origin, and the new origin must be from God. But even "born from above" leaves something to be desired in translation. Probably "begotten from above" is the meaning. The Greek verb genna…normally…describes the father function of begetting. In effect John 3:3 may declare: "Except one be begotten of God, he is not able to see the kingdom of God." This underscores the fact that one enters the new life through an act of God. The act is not coercive, but it is essential and indispensable." (See Stagg page 115). Jesus identifies God as Father through the act of begetting sons and daughters and says we cannot see the kingdom of God unless we are begotten of the Father.
All three persons of the Triune God play a role in our being begotten into the family of God. Paul refers to Abba in Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6. The Holy Spirit is the empowering presence of God and it is through the spirit that we cry out, 'Abba, Father'. In The Promise of the Father, Thompson explains
Paul explicitly locates the believer's address to God as "Abba, Father!" in the work of the Holy Spirit (8:15)…Paul's use of the unusual verb "to cry" (krazein) has been taken to point to the emotional, enthusiastic, or spontaneous prayers of believers. At the same time, the address to God as abba has been read, in light of Jeremias's arguments about Jesus' use of the term, to refer to the believer's sense of intimacy in relationship with God…Paul's use of krazein, rather than a word for confess, speak, or pray is indeed striking. One does not confess that God is Father; one does not even pray to God as father. Rather, they 'cry' to God as Father. The term krazein is also found in Galatians 4:6...It seems likely, therefore, that the verb krazein is used because the Spirit is the ultimate source of these words, rather than because they signify the interior or emotional state of those who are speaking or a particular setting of prayer or worship.
Ben Witherington III and Laura M. Ice suggest that our crying out to God as "Abba" occurs through the infilling of the Holy Spirit in The Shadow of the Almighty: Father, Son, and Spirit in Biblical Perspective. They suggest that by the Holy Spirit "Christians are enabled to cry 'abba, Father!' Notice that the verb "cry" here, which suggests at the very least an earnest imploring of God, if not an ecstatic experience engendered by the Spirit…our minds also are not capable of articulating what we ought to be saying to God in prayer and so the Spirit intercedes and prays with and through the believer, with sighs too deep for words, a possible reference to glossolalia…" (Glossolalia is the phenomenon of 'speaking in tongues'. See Witherington and Ice page 30.)
Abba means more than pater, the Greek word for 'father'. If pater captured the full meaning of the Aramaic word abba, what is the point for using the Aramaic word in the first place, especially in the middle of a Greek text? If abba merely means pater why is abba used so many times? If abba merely meant 'father' the Aramaic term wouldn't have been retained in the Greek text at all. William Barclay believed that Abba is un-translatable. According to Barclay,
There is extraordinary intimacy which Jesus put into the term. Jesus called God, Abba, Father" (Mark 14:36). As Jeremias points out there is not even the remotest parallel to this in all Jewish literature. Abba, like the modern Arabic jaba, is the word used by a young child to his father. It is the ordinary, everyday family word which a little child used in speaking to his father. It is completely untranslatable. Any attempt to put it into English ends in bathos or grotesqueness. It is a word which no one had ever ventured to use in addressing God before.
For Jesus the fatherhood of God was something of almost inexpressible sacredness, and it was something of unsurpassable tender intimacy. In it is summed up everything that he came to say about God in this relationship with men.
When we set this conception of God as the Father, to whom a man may go with the same confidence and trust as a child goes to his earthly father, beside the Jewish conception of the remote transcendence of God and beside the Greek conceptions of the grudging God, the gods who are unaware of our existence, the god without a heart, we see it is indeed true that Jesus brought men good news about God.
(See William Barclay The Mind of Jesus, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1961, p.117.)
The Father/Son relationship is important in the very identity of God. Andrew Murray makes this clear in With Christ in the School of Prayer. Murray describes this as the Key to the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. It explains that the reason that God desires relationships and prayer from us is that his eternal nature and person is that of such relationships. Murray states,
Seeking answers to such questions provides the key to the very being of God in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. If God were only one Person, shut up within Himself, there could be no thought of nearness to Him or influence on Him. But in God there are three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is in the Holy Spirit that the Father and Son have their living bond of unity and fellowship. When the Father gave the Son a place next to Himself as His equal and His counselor, He opened a way for prayer and its influence into the very inmost life of the Trinity itself…As the representative of all creation, Christ always has a voice in the Father's decisions. In the decrees of the eternal purpose, room is always left for the liberty of the Son and mediator and intercessor. The same holds true for the petitions of all who draw near to the Father through the Son. (Andrew Murray With Christ in the School of Prayer (Bridge Logos Publishers, Gainesville, Florida, 2002, p. 135-137).)
Murray illustrates that the Infinite Fatherliness of God is an indispensable doctrine,
fundamental in the message of salvation and crucial in prayer. Concerning the
Fatherhood of God in the message of repentance and salvation Murray states
Jesus came to baptize with the Holy Spirit, who could not stream forth until Jesus was glorified. When Jesus made an end of sin, He entered into the Holiest of All with His blood. There on our behalf he received the Holy Spirit and sent Him down to us as the Spirit of the Father. It was when Christ had redeemed us and we had received the position of children that the Father sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to cry; "Abba, Father." The worship in spirit is the worship of the Father in the Spirit of Christ, in the Spirit of son-ship. This is the reason why Jesus uses the name of Father here. We never find one of the Old Testament saints personally appropriating the name of child in relationship to God or calling God their Father. The worship of the Father is only possible for those to whom the Spirit of the Son has been given. The worship in spirit is only possible for those to whom the Son has revealed the Father, and who receive the spirit of son-ship. It is only Christ who opens the way and teaches the worship in spirit. (Murray p. 4-5)
Jeremias also illustrates this fact saying,
Judaism had a great wealth of forms of address to God at its disposal. For example, the 'Prayer", Tephilla, later called the Eighteen Benedictions, which was already prayed three times a day in the New Testament period, ends each benediction with a new form of address to God…It can be seen here that one form of address to God is put after another. If we were to collect all the forms of address that appear in early Jewish prayer literature, we would find ourselves with a very extensive lest. Nowhere, however, in the Old Testament do we find God addressed as 'Father"…In post-canonical Jewish literature there are isolated examples of the use of pater as an address to God; these, however come from Diaspora Judaism, which is here following the influence of the Greek world. In Palestine, it is only in the early Christian period that we come across two prayers which use 'Father' as an address to God, both in the form abinu malkenu. But it should be noted that these are liturgical prayers in which God is addressed as the Father of the community…the Father to whom the community calls is the heavenly king of the people of God…It is quite unusual that Jesus should have addresses God as 'my Father"; it is even more so that he should have used the Aramaic form Abba. (Joachim Jeremias New Testament Theology: Volume One: The Proclamation of Jesus (SCM Press Limited, London 1971, p. 63-64).)
In the Old Testament only the Son of David can address God as Father. In a Targum of Psalm 89:27,God promises the future anointed Davidic king that he will call on God saying "You are abba to me, my God!" While Judaism avoids referring to God as Father, let alone Abba, the translator of this passage into Aramaic couldn't find another word to use in this verse. Jesus makes it possible for us to call upon God as "Our Father".
Books and the Parchments F.F. Bruce makes an interesting note about Abba; Aramaic for "Daddy"
While Abba is an Aramaic word, it made its way into Hebrew as well; to this day a Hebrew-speaking boy will address his father as 'abba.'But in addressing God, Jews did not and do not employ this form, the affectionate term for intimate use within the family but the more formal 'Abi', 'my Father' or Abinu, 'our Father'. Jesus, however, of set purpose used the intimate and affectionate from Abba when addressing God, and example was followed by the early Christians who used the same Aramaic word. So Paul in Romans 8:15 and Gal. 4:6 records it as a sign that God has sent the spirit of his son, 'the spirit of Son-ship' to the hearts of believers of Christ when they pray "Abba, Father"
So, why did Jews avoid using Abba in reference to God? Joachim Jeremias explained this in his book The Central Message of the New Testament:
The reason why Jewish prayers do not address God as Abba is disclosed when one considers the linguistic background of the word. Originally, abba was a babbling sound. The Talmud says: 'When a child experiences the taste of wheat (that is, when it is weaned) it learned to say abba and imma (that is, Dada and Mama are the first words it utters); and the church fathers Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Theodoret of Cyrus, all three of them born in Antioch of well-to-do parents, but in all probability raised by Syrian [Aramaic-speaking] nurses, tell us our of their own experience that little children used to call their fathers abba.
Abba means Daddy. It seems almost irreverent to address God, who is seen my many as distant and sanctimonious, in such an intimate and loving way. But this is what Jesus dared to do and what he dares us to do. That is to have an intimate loving relationship with almighty God.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
In the Kaddish we find a similar expression. In Aramaic it is "yit-ga-dal ve-yit-ka-dash she-mei raba" which means, "Magnified and sanctified be His great Name." In the Lord's Prayer there is no 'name' given to God beside that of 'Father'. In the Old Testament the name of God is Yahweh. Jews in the time of Jesus (and today) did not dare utter the sacred name of God. In the New Testament this name of God is not mentioned but is alluded to, especially in the Revelation. To be Holy means to be "set-apart". Both Jesus and the Old Law says that we are to be Holy as God is Holy (Matthew 5:48 Leviticus 19:2, Deuteronomy 18:13). Jesus said that a student should be like his master. We need to live "the Way" and not just in believe God's rule.
Thy Kingdom Come
Early Hebraic Christians often recited a short Aramaic prayer the Maranatha prayer. It is a one sentence prayer and translated from the Aramaic is "Our Lord, Come" (1 Corinthians 16:22). The Kaddish also requests that the Kingdom come. It states "May he establish His kingdom during your life and during your days, and during the life of all the house of Israel. Speedily and in the near future. Amen" In Aramaic the word Kingdom is Malkutha. This Good News of the Kingdom of God was the Central Message of Jesus. The Aramaic word for Kingdom is also an Aramaic "Power word". Is the Kingdom of God the Celestial Realm? Is it the coming rule of God after the apocalypse? Is it the rule of God in the hearts of his faithful children? It is all these things and more. Ken Hemphill notes in his book The Prayer of Jesus, "New Testament scholars have coined a phrase to capture this wonderful truth that we can experience God's eternal power in this present day. They call it "eschatology becoming actualized"-eschatology being a reference to final realities. When we declare "thine is the power", we are praising God for allowing us to experience in actual real time the power of God that will last for all time." How has God revealed himself to us? In history in the person of Jesus Christ. God has intervened in history and spoke to us in time, and space, in the Holy Land and has spoken to us in a human language, Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke.
Thy will be done
The anguished prayer that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane is similar to the Our Father, He opens with 'Abba' and prays "not my will, but thine be done" (Mark 14:36). Richard Owen Roberts compels us to "Contemplate the often repeated prayer, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven, lifted Sunday after Sunday by men and women who steadfastly refuse to do the will of God themselves and are surely in no position to assists its accomplishment in the lives of others." A Christian strives to align his will with that of the Heavenly Father. The goal of the Christian is to live a Christ-centered, rather than a self-centered life. Also, Christians practice love in action and help the suffering.
On Earth as it is in Heaven
Aykana dwashmayya aph ara
The Kaddish mentions "the world which he created according to his will". This is a prayer for the consummation of the age. Here we pray for the end of tyranny, pollution, exploitation, oppression, suffering and evil. Here we pray for "God's Imperial Rule" to be established on planet earth. F.F. Bruce in his Commentary on the Book of Acts constantly refers to Aramaic as the language of the early church. He finds that parts of the Book of Acts of the Apostles were written in Aramaic rather than in Greek. He says, "Much of the material in these chapters shows signs of having been drawn, immediately or indirectly, from Aramaic sources…the primitive Jerusalem church was Aramaic-speaking, and so Aramaisms in these chapters are what we should expect." He also shows that not only does Jesus show a familiarity with the Kaddish, so does Peter. Peter says in Acts 2:36, "let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." F.F. Bruce notes, "For the phrase "all the house of Israel"…It appears also in the Jewish liturgy in a well-known Aramaic prayer, the Qaddish:
"Magnified and sanctified be His great name
In the world which he has created according to His will:
May He establish His kingdom during your life and during your days,
And during the life of all the house of Israel, speedily and
At a near time.
And say ye, Amen."
F.F. Bruce also notes Peter speaking Aramaic elsewhere in the Book of Acts when he notes that,
In the house of Cornelius Peter may have spoken Greek, but perhaps it is more probably that he spoke in Aramaic through an interpreter. At any rate, this speech is even more strongly marked by Aramaisms than his speeches recorded in the earlier chapters of Acts. The presence of Aramaisms, of course, is a sign that the speech is not Luke's free invention, but rather literal reproduction of what he found in his source (whether that source was written or oral). The Greek of Acts 10: 36-38 in particular reads somewhat awkwardly as also do the fairly literal renderings in our common English versions, but it can be turned back word for word into grammatical and intelligible Aramaic.
F.F. Bruce is a good source for accurate information about Aramaic as used by Jesus the Messiah and by his earliest followers.
Give us this day our daily bread
Hab lan lakhma dsunqanan yowmana
During the time of the Early Church ancient Aramaic and Hebrew versions of the Gospel were circulating in the Church. Christian Jews, such as the Nazoreans and the Ebionites preserved these ancient texts. St. Jerome, while studying the Lord's Prayer, referenced one of these ancient manuscripts. Jerome was fluent in all three languages of the Bible, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Jerome in his commentary on Matthew says, "In the so-called Gospel of the Hebrews (in the Lord's Prayer), instead of "the bread we need for the day" I found "Mahar," which means "for tomorrow," so that the sense is " Provide us today with the bead we need for tomorrow"-This is, for the future." He translates this passage from the Aramaic as, "Our Bread for Tomorrow, give us today." Jesus tells his disciples to live one day at a time and not to be worried about tomorrow. This is found in Mark 6: 31-43, "therefore do not worry saying, "What shall we eat?", or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For all these things do the heathen seek. For your heavenly father knows you need all these things. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it's own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." This passage has a dual meaning. God wants us to brings our needs to him. He is concerned about these needs. But there is also a deeper meaning.
Jesus is the Bread from heaven. He is our needful bread. Moses says, "Man cannot live by bread alone; but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God" (Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus says, "Do not labor for the bread that perishes, but for the bread which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man [Aramaic "Bar Nasha" another Aramaic power-word.] will give you, because God has set his seal upon him" (John 6: 27). Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger and he believes in me shall never thirst" (John 6:35). Jesus is the food for the soul and the only food that can satisfy the soul. Jesus said at the synagogue in Capernaum, "Amen, I say unto you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed" (John 6:53-54). Jesus had earlier told this truth to the apostles but they did not comprehend it. He said, "I have food to eat, of which you do not know…My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work" (John 4:32-34).
Joachim Jeremias shows us there are two "we petitions" (for bread and forgiveness).The two "thou" petitions are for our Father's Kingdom and his will. In a sense they are eschatological. We look back to the Last Supper of Jesus in the request for bread but also forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19: 7-8; Luke 22:16). The scripture declares, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God" (Luke 14: 15). Ken Hemphill noted, " In order to think and pray this way, we must first shake off the false notion that life is somehow separated into two distinct compartments-the secular and the sacred-and that the practical needs of everyday life occupy one place, while Christian faith and its responsibilities occupy another. The early Church didn't see it that way. When you read Paul's words in chapter eleven of 1 Corinthians (vv. 17-34), you get the idea that the first century Christians combined their Lord's Supper observance with the enjoyment of a potluck dinner. That observation is not far from the truth. The "breaking of bread' was a crucial part of their lives together, for it helped sustain many of the early believers…Their gatherings had both physical and spiritual significance."
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
Washboq lan hawbayn aykanan dap hanan shwaqnan l-hayawayn
It has been noted by Sebastian Brock, Joachim Jeremias and other respected Aramaic scholars of the New Testament that Haebain, which literally means "debts" is peculiar to the Aramaic language in its own Semitic, early Palestinian context. Here in the prayer, the term for "debt"-hauba- is a metaphor for "sin", "error", "guilt", "fault", "offense", "mistake", and "transgression". And the word hayawein literally signifies "debtors" but denotes "sinners," "offenders," and "transgressors". We also find this peculiar use of the Aramaic term hauba ("debt") for "sin" and "guilt" in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
When Jesus finished giving the Lord's Prayer for the first time he immediately began to teach his disciples about forgiveness. Jesus says blessed are the merciful. Jesus preached about the necessity for forgiving others again and again. It isn't an easy thing to do because of evil people in the world who have hurt others wrongfully. Naturally we want to be angry, to get even, to avenge ourselves. This is evil and self-destructive. As Christians we must do for others what God has done for us, as He has forgiven us even though we don't deserve it. Those who cannot forgive cannot be forgiven by God, they poison themselves and put themselves in Satan's Power. When we sin, we sin against God. When David sinned with Bathsheba he sinned against himself, Bathsheba and the nation of Israel, since as King it was his duty to exemplify the Law of God. But David says, "Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight" (Psalm 51: 4). David is focusing here on the fact that all sins are sins against God. The writer of Hebrews reminds us "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God…For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 10:31, 12:29).
Lead us not into temptation
Wa la talain lnesyona
Jacob the Righteous, the Brother of Jesus, stressed the fact that God does not tempt anyone to sin (James 1:13-17). Ericco Rocco, a lecturer on Aramaic as the language of Jesus stated, "In this phrase of the prayer, ta-alon means "to enter'. Thus, the line correctly reads, "Do not let us enter into temptation." Jesus used the same word when he told his apostles, "Wake up and pray, that you may not enter (ta-alon) into temptation" (Mt. 26:41). Jesus was tempted in all ways such is the manner of all men and yet was without sin (Hebrews 4: 15). Jesus went into the desert to be tempted by the devil. When he returned in victory he recounted his victory to his students.
Satan knows our weakness and how to tempt us. Hugh Schonfield noted, "If one were to inquire what was chiefly present to the mind of the multitude during this period [of Christ's ministry], one would receive a three-fold answer: 1. food, for the people were often starving; 2. faith in God's miraculous intervention in their dire need; 3. assurance that the proud heathen would ere long be subject to a redeemed Israel. It was on thee three counts that Jesus…was tempted in the wilderness." Jesus was tempted in all ways such as we are and yet was without sin. Scripture warns us to beware of the devices of the devil.
But deliver us from evil
Ella passan min beesha
We must be aware that we battle spiritual forces. Jesus interceded for Peter (Luke 22: 31-32). Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." Jesus teaches us here that every time we pray we are engaging in spiritual warfare. (Jesus prayed for those who were close to him, and so should we. Jesus also blessed his food and so should we. See Luke 24: 30.) Our society needs to be delivered from evils. Evils such as pornography, sexual promiscuity, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, greed, destruction of the environment and Islamic terrorism. Jesus in his ministry warred against the kingdom of Satan. Jesus was often casting out devils. Christ also preached a message of repentance and compelled his disciples to turn away from a life of sin and do good works. Paul taught us, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age. Against spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).
For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory Forever. Amen.
Mittol d'lakh hee malkootha wa khaylan w tishbookhta alalam almeen Amen.
Some scholars feel that this Benediction is not actually part of the original prayer but was added to it latter on. They believe this because the Benediction is not in the Lord's Prayer in Luke and isn't found in certain very ancient manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew. Joachim Jeremias noted the importance of the Benediction in The Prayers of Jesus,
Clement of Alexandria has preserved a saying of Jesus which is not written in the gospels. It says, "Ask ye for the great things, so will God give you the little things." You are praying falsely, saying to the Lord, always your prayers are moving in a circle around your small "I", your own needs and troubles and desires. Ask for the great things-for God's almighty glory and kingdom and God's great gifts, the bread of life and the endless mercy of God, may be granted to you-even here, even now, already today. That does not mean that you may not bring your small personal needs before God, but they must not govern your prayer, for you are praying to your Father. He knows all. He knows what things his children have need of before they ask him, and he adds them to his great gifts. Jesus says, "Ask you for the great things, so God will grant you the little things." The Lord's Prayer teaches us to ask for the Great things.
There are some other accounts in the New Testament that do not have adequate manuscript support, in the opinion of certain Bible scholars. This includes the account of the woman taken in adultery in John 8 and the Resurrection account in Mark. These accounts are authentic and inspired scripture and have been accepted as such by the church. The Benediction is part of Sacred Scripture.
The Kaddish and the "Our Father" Prayer of Jesus
In "The Prayer of Jesus" Joachim Jeremias notes: "The first words which the child says to his heavenly Father are "Hallowed be they name Thy kingdom come." These two petitions are not only parallel in structure, but they also correspond to one another in content. They recall the Kaddish ("Holy"), and ancient Aramaic prayer which formed the conclusion of the service in the synagogue and with which Jesus was no doubt familiar from childhood. What is probably the oldest form of this prayer (later expanded) runs:
Exalted and hallowed be his great name
In the world which he created according to his will.
May he let his kingdom rule
In your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime
Of the whole house of Israel, speedily and soon.
And to this, say: Amen.
Jeremais continues noting, "Comparison with the Kaddish also shows that the two petitions are escatological. They make entreaty for the revelation of God's eschatological kingdom."
According to Moshe I. Sorscher in "The Companion Guide to the Shabbat Prayer Service, "The Half Kaddish, written in Aramaic, was composed while the Jews were exiled in Babylonia. Its central idea is the revelation of God's kingship. In it we petition for God's kingdom to be established speedily. One of four different types of Kaddish, it connects various parts of the prayer service together. Here, it introduces the Shemoneh Esray (Amida). The most important part of the Kaddish is the congregational response affirming God's name: Amen. Y'hay sh'may rabbah m'varach….("May His Great name be blessed forever and ever"), which should be recited aloud and fervently."
(There are actually five types of Kaddish. The first form is the "Half Kaddish" which is recited in "transitional" portions of the service. The complete Kaddish is used to conclude the service. Another form is called the "Rabbi's Kaddish" and is used to conclude the study of rabbinic literature. The fourth and fifth forms of the Kaddish are the "burial Kaddish" and the "Mourners Kaddish." Sometimes people have viewed the Kaddish as a prayer for the dead. It is not a prayer for those who are dead it is a hymn prayed to God and glorifying Him.
Chazan recites: (A "Chazan" is the Ba'al Tefillah which means the "master of prayer." He is the cantor, the one who leads the congregation in prayer.)
Yitgadal, v'yitkadash, sh'may rabbah. (Congregation responds: Amen.)
B'almah di-v'ra chirutay, v'yamlick malchutay,
B'chayaychon uv'yomaychon, u'v. chayay d'chol
Bayt Yisrael, ba-agalah uvixman kareev
V'imru, Amen. (Congregation responds: Amen.)
Chazan and Congregation recite together:
Y'hay sh'may rabbah m'varach l'alam ul'almay almayah.
Yirbarach, v'yishtabach, v'yi-pa-ar, v-yit-romam, v'yit'naseh, v'yit-hadar,v'yi'aleh, v'yit-halal, Sh'may d'kushah, B'rich Hu.
(Congregation responds: B'rich Hu.)
L'aylah, min kol birchatah v'shiratah, tushb'chatah, v'ne-chematah, da-amiran b'almah, v'imru, Amen. (Congregation responds: Amen.)
(Note: We don't know exactly when the Kaddish was composed. David De Sola Pool has done the most research into the Kaddish. It was composed sometime after the exile but before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The earliest written attestation that we have of it is centuries after the time of Jesus. Whenever it was composed it seems that it is old enough for Jesus to have been familiar with it and he most likely learned it as a child.) Aramaic Jewish prayers are very important. Certain Rabbis actively discouraged the common people from praying in Aramaic by telling them that God doesn't hear these prayers. Their motive was an effort to revive Hebrew. That many Aramaic prayers have survived such as the Kaddish, the Kol Nidre and the Aktamot for example, shows the popularity and pervasiveness of Hebrew among the common Jewish people. Of course we have more Aramaic literature of the Jewish people such as the Talmud (Gemara) and the Kaballah (or Zohar).)
A Note About Hallowing the Divine Name
Both the Lord's Prayer and the Kaddish begin with a hallowing of the name of God. The name of God is the "tetragrammiton" or the "4 letters" YHWH or the Hebrew letters Yoad-hey-vav-hey. Moses began using this divine name "Yahweh" and introduced it to the Israelites. Before the time of Moses God was known as "El-Shaddai" and not Yahweh. This is confirmed by the fact that no one before Joshua, has a Yahwistic name. A Yahwistic name is a name that includes Yahweh within it, such as EliJAH, ZecharIAH, Jonathan, IsiYAH, ect. This is obvious when one looks at the name of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, even other names such a Simeon, Gad, and others. The first person to have a name was Joshua or Jehoshua and he was given this name by Moses (Numbers 13:16). This original name was Hosea. After the return of the Jewish people from exile in Babylonia, the Jews began a practice of not speaking the name of God. This practice has continued until this day. We know from the Bible and from extra-biblical writings that the Jewish people commonly spoke and used the name "Yahweh" in ancient times. After the return from exile instead of saying Yahweh, they would say "Adonai," meaning "the Lord" or "Ha-shem" meaning "the Name." The reason for this practice was an attempt to avoid not taking the name of the Lord, Yahweh, in vain.
Yahweh does not seem to be the correct original pronunciation of this name. It was most likely Yahwoh or Yahu. We know this from its form in Egyptian hieroglyphics and other ancient texts. The name "Yahweh" was the name of God as worshiped by the clan of Kenite Arabs that Moses settled among when he fled from Pharaoh.
By the time of Jesus, the prohibition against uttering the name of God was firmly established. To speak the name of God, even in accident, such as while reading from a Biblical text in which it was written was grounds for permanent banishment from certain Jewish communities such as the Qumran community that is credited with the writing of the Dead Sea Scrolls. By the time the Old Testament was translated into Greek which was around 200 years before the writing of the New Testament, the name of Yahweh was no longer used. In the Septuagint Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, God is often referred to as Kyrios, or "the Lord." (By the way, Yahweh is not equivalent with "I am that I am." In Hebrew this is "Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh." In Exodus 3:15 God says to Moses, "Tell them 'Ehyeh sent me to you.")
Jesus apparently never uttered the name Yahweh in his teachings. We have Jesus calling God "Allaha" and "Abba." But never by the name Yahweh.
(A quick note about Allah. Allah seems to be derived from the Aramaic Allaha and Alaw, names for God used in the Bible, such as the book of Daniel. However, the God of Islam is different from the concept of God found in the Bible. For example, according to the Islamic Koran, God is not Father and "Allah hath no son." Thus the central theme of the teaching of Jesus is rejected by Islam. The Bible says "Behold what manner of Love the Father has given unto us, that we may be called the sons of God.") Joachim Jeremias showed how that Jesus often uses "the Divine Passive," using circumlocutions when speaking of God such as "He who" or "there is One that." (See Jeremias' "New Testament Theology.") Jesus followed the Jewish practice of refraining from uttering the name of God. I believe that we are free to speak the name of Yahwoh (although we aren't exactly sure of its pronunciation-now we can only approximate it-however it was pronounced I, and more scholars are sure that "Yahweh" is absolutely incorrect. Yahweh although it is a wrong pronunciation is a convention used by many scholars.
We need to remember that someone's name often means more that a word that they answer to. It also refers to their person and character as we speak of someone's "good name." These connotations are included in the Kaddish and in the "Our Father."
To Jesus and to the writers of the New Testament, "Father" is as much a name of God as Yahwoh is. As Paul writes in Ephesians 3:14, "I bow my knees before the Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth is named."
I want to make a note about the pronunciation of the name "Jesus." Apparently, the name of Jesus was pronounced "Yeshu." (Those who say that Jesus means "Hey Zeus" or derived from paganism are incorrect. Jewish people came up with the form Iesous to approximate the word "Joshua" in Greek when they translated the Old Testament into Greek. In Greek, there is no "y" or "sh" sound and usually names end with an "s." For example, Peter was called "Kaipha" in Aramaic, but it is written as Kephas in the New Testament.) Apparently, Jesus was pronounced in Aramaic as Yeshu and not Yeshua. In Modern Aramaic Jesus was pronounced as Yeshu or Esho. In many Jewish writings, Jesus is called Yeshu. As in Spanish it is a common name among the Assyrians So, we have the form "Yeshu" preserved in both Jewish and Aramaic Christian sources.. The Rabbis came up with an acronym for Yeshua, having it stand for "May his name be accursed forever." The Rabbis came up with this acronym probably because it reflected the original form of his name. The Talmud describes the Galilean form of Aramaic as being characterized by not pronouncing the "gutturals" such as "ayins" the "uh" in Yeshua. In Matthew's Gospel, Peter is described as speaking with a Galilean accent. This explains why the name of Jesus was pronounced as "Yeshu" rather than "Yeshua" since Jesus was a Galilean and since he was from that region most likely spoke with a Galilean accent and went by a Galilean version of the name "Joshua."
The "Amidah" and Prayer Posture
"When You Stand Praying…"
The Shemoneh Esray is also called the "Amidah." The word "Amidah" means "standing' this is the traditional prayer posture of the Jewish people. In contrast Christians often kneel in prayer. Jewish practice is to pray while standing. In early Christian practice that does have biblical president there are two important prayer postures, kneeling and standing. Solomon and Elijah prayed kneeling as did Jacob the Righteous, the Brother of Jesus. (According to ancient Jewish Christian sources Jacob the Righteous had his knees become hard and calloused liked those of a camel because he was constantly in the temple on his knees before God praying in the Temple.) Jesus mentions the practice of praying while standing erect and thus gives his approval to the practice. In early Christian art saints are depicted praying in the ancient manner, standing with their hands lifted up. Jesus kneels in prayer in Luke 22:41 where it states, "and He knelt down and prayed." Solomon began praying standing with his hands lifted then he "knelt down" in prayer (2 Chronicles 6:12-13).
The Amidah is believed to have been composed by the "Great Assembly," a group of Jewish sages who lived immediately after the time of Ezra. This prayer is also known as the Tephilla, it begins,
Blessed be thou, Lord (our God and the God of our fathers),
The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob,
(God great, mighty and fearful),
master of heaven and earth,
our shield and the shield of our fathers (our trust in every generation).
Blessed be thou, Lord, shield of Abraham…
Jeremias states, "When Jesus speaks of God as the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (mark 12L26) and when he, ordinarily so sparing in use of divine names, calls God "Lord of heaven and earth' in Matthew 11:25, this twofold coincidence with the wording of the first benediction of the Tephilla indicates Jesus' familiarity with it. The Amidah is also known as the 18 benedictions. At the end of the first century, the 18 benedictions were amended so that they would function as an excommunication of Christian Jews, who were condemned as the "minnom" meaning the heretics. (In the Lord's Prayer, God isn't merely the God of our fathers-he is Our Father himself.)
Both the Kaddish and the Lord's Prayer are about the Kingdom of God. In Aramaic this is "Malkutha D'Alaha." Judaism at the time of Christ was concerned about the "Kingdom of God." Various Jewish revolutionaries of the era, such as Judas of Galilee and Bar Kokhba attempted to establish the Kingdom of God upon earth by the force of arms, despite the scriptures plea, "not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit saith the Lord of Hosts." The Kingdom of God was also a major thrust of Christ's proclamation. We would do well to study this aspect of Christ's teachings, especially as Jesus began his message by saying, "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand." Bruce Chilton sees an emphasis on the Kingdom of God in the Aramaic Targum, an oral tradition of the Old Testament that contained interpretation and paraphrase. The Eschatological Kingdom of God may have been an emphasis of the Kingdom of Jesus but many scholars have noted an "already-but not yet" aspect of the Kingdom of God in the Preaching of Jesus. In John 3:3 Jesus says, "I tell you the solemn truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God" Despite all the controversy it will suffice to say that the Kingdom of God is the spiritual realm where Jesus rules with authority as God's divine king.
The Messiah's Practice of Prayer
At the time of Christ, the Jewish people had an established custom of praying three times a day. This practice is mentioned in the book of Daniel 6:11. (Also, note that Daniel knelled in prayer.) Early Christians also adopted this custom as can be seen in Acts3:1, 10:3 and 30 and in Didache 8:3.
Looking at the prayers of Jesus-besides the three prayers from the cross, we have two prayers of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) these being the prayer of Jubilation in Matthew 11:25 and the Gethsemane prayer mentioned above. In the fourth gospel we have the prayer for the resurrection of Lazarus (11:41) the temple prayer John 12;27 and the High Priestly prayer of John 17. We know that Jesus prayed in solitude and that at times he prayed all night long (Mark 1:35, Luke 6:12). He prayed for this disciples (Luke 23:31) and said grace for meals or blessed his food (Mark 8:6-7, Luke 24:30). Jesus also challenged his disciples to pray with him for one hour. How few will sacrifice an hour to God in prayer!
Concerning the prayers of Jesus, Joachim Jeremias notes,
"How we would like to know more! Actually we do know more! We know that jesus was brought up in a devout home (Luke 2, cf. 4:16); we know that he participated in the liturgical heritage of his people, and consequently we know the prayers which the child Jesus was taught in his parental home and which accompanied the man Jesus throughout his life. The three hours of prayer in particular were so universally observed among the Jews of Jesus' time that we are justified in including them in the comment 'as his custom was,' which is made in Luke with reference to Jesus' attendance at Sabbath worship, (Luke 4:16).
Books on Prayer:
Andrew Murray "With Christ in the School of Prayer"
E.M. Bounds "On Prayer"
Dick Eastman: "The Hour that changes the world"
Brad Young "The Jewish Background of the Lord's Prayer"
The best authority on Aramaic as the language of Jesus was Joachim Jeremias. Joachim (pronounced in German as "yo-ah-KEEM") Jeremias, theologian, born 9/20/1900 in Dresden, died 9/6/1979 in Tübingen. Jeremias spent large parts of his youth (1910-1915) in Jerusalem, where his father served as Provost of the Protestant Lutheran congregation at the Savior Church. An exten-sive knowledge of Palestine is strongly throughout his later scientific work. He pursued further study of theology and the Oriental languages in Tübingen and Leipzig in the years of 1922 and 1923, with attainment of the Ph.D. and Th. D. degrees. In 1922 he became a private tutor at the theological seminar in Herrnhut, and in 1924 he became an instructor at the Herder Institute in Riga. He qualified to teach at the university level in 1925 in Leipzig for the academic field of New Testament, and in 1928 became a presiding (senior) professor and director of the Institutum Judaicum in Berlin. In 1929 he became professor at Greifswald, and finally he taught at Göttingen from 1935 until his retirement as professor emeritus in 1968. He was a member of the confessing church. After the Second World War, he received numerous distinctions: He was made an honorary doctor at the University of Leipzig, at St. Andrews (Scotland), at Uppsala, and at Oxford; he received the Burkitt Medal of the British Academy of London for biblical studies; became was admitted as a member of the Academy of the Sciences at Göttingen, where from 1956 on he was a member of the Septuaginta Commission, as well as a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of the sciences and of the British Academy of London.His scientific work touches almost all areas of the New Testament research, including those of archaeology and historic geographies. His particular and concerted emphasis, however, was on the reconstruction of the announcement and appearance of Jesus against the background of the contemporary Judaism, which he implicitly trusted like few scientists of his time, and whose language he handled very competently. His chief works -- "Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus", "The Allegories of Jesus", "The Holy Communion Words of Jesus", "New Testament Theology, First Part, The Announcement of Jesus" -- were translated into numerous European languages (and also into Japanese, Korean, and Chinese), and attained ecumenical importance and recognition.
The Aramaic word studies written by Joachim Jeremias that are in English include New Testament Theology, The Central Message of the New Testament, and The Prayers of Jesus.
The Aramaic Alphabet used by Assyrian Christians
The Lord's Prayer in Modern Assyrian Aramaic
The Lord's Prayer in the Aramaic Dialect used by the Christians of Maloula, Syria
The Lord's Prayer in Hebrew
The Lord's Prayer in Aramaic and English
STEPHEN ANDREW MISSICK
(The books listed below can be ordered through Amazon.com or Barnes and Nobles On-line or can be ordered through their publisher.)
The Words of Jesus in the Original Aramaic: Discovering the Semitic Roots of Christianity (Xulon Press, 2006)
Although Bible scholars have called Aramaic "the Language of Jesus" most Christians have never heard of Aramaic. However, anyone who has read the Bible has been exposed to Aramaic whether he or she knows it or not. "Abba, Father" is Aramaic. Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified is Aramaic for "Skull-Place". Names such as Thomas, Barnabas, Martha, and Magdalene are all Aramaic names. "Maranatha" is a short Aramaic prayer that is left un-translated in the New Testament. Translated from the Aramaic it means, "Our Lord, Come!" After the release of Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ", which was filmed mostly in Aramaic, more people have been exposed to the Aramaic language than ever before. Aramaic is an important but often over-looked tool in discovering the mind of Christ. This book is an introduction to Aramaic biblical studies and to the last Christians who still speak the ancient Aramaic language, the Assyrians of Mesopotamia. This book also explores the Aramaic behind Christ's words, such as in the title Christ used for himself, the Son of Man, which is Barnasha in Aramaic, and looks at important people in early Aramaic Christianity, such as James the Just and Mary of Magdala.
Mary of Magdala: Magdalene, the Forgotten Aramaic Prophetess of Christianity (Xlibris, 2006)
According to the Biblical account Mary of Magdala was the first witness of the resurrection. The early fathers of the church called Mary Magdalene the "Apostle of the Apostles". She played an important, but until recently, largely ignored role in the early church. Aramaic was the language of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Her name "Magdalene" is an Aramaic name meaning "the Tower". St. Jerome, who was fluent in Aramaic, believed she was called "the Tower" due to her ardent faith. This book explores Mary of Magdala through the Aramaic language and ancient Aramaic sources and traditions.
Treasures of the Language of Jesus: The Aramaic Source of Christ's Teaching (Xlibris, 2006)
Treasures of the Language of Jesus: The Aramaic Source of Christ's Teachings explores Jesus in the light of his language, culture and times. Bible scholars have determined that Aramaic was the language that was spoken by Jesus Christ. This book examines the meanings of Aramaic words and Aramaic figures of speech that are found in the New Testament. Treasures of the Language of Jesus is an introduction to Aramaic biblical studies and to the last surviving native speakers of the Aramaic language, the Assyrians and Chaldeans of Mesopotamia.
Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth (Xlibris, 2008)
Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth is a brief introduction to the Aramaic language. Bible scholars have determined that Aramaic was the language spoken by Jesus Christ. This book lists the evidence from the Bible, archeology and other ancient records that have led them to this conclusion. Examining the words of Jesus in his native language gives us a deeper understanding of the Messiah and his message. Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth serves an important introduction to Aramaic biblical studies and to the last surviving native speakers of the Aramaic language, the Assyrian Christians of Mesopotamia.
Christ the Man (Xulon Press)
Immerse yourself in the life of John the Baptizer and Jesus the Christ as they preach God's New Covenant with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with all the living things of the earth (Hosea 2:18). John and Jesus' radical new message of forgiveness and hope provokes opposition from the authorities. After John is arrested, Jesus decides to confront the religious establishment in the very courts of the Temple of Jerusalem! Jesus rescues the animals from sacrifice, evicts the all the merchants and their customers from the Temple and then boldly proclaims, "My Father's House shall be a house of prayer for all nationalities!" Rediscover the beginnings of the Good News of Christ the Man. Gain fresh insights on the historical background of the life of Christ supplemented with twenty illustrations from the "Christ the Man" graphic novel.
The Hammer of God: The Stories of Judah Maccabee and Charles Martel (Xulon Press, 2010)
According to the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ celebrated the Festival of Hanukkah (John 10:22). Hanukkah celebrates the heroic exploits of Judas Maccabeus and his battle for religious freedom. These events occurred during the four-hundred silent years between the Old and New Testaments. The Seleucid Greeks that ruled over the Jewish people made observing Judaism a capital offense and ordered all copies of the Bible to be collected and burned. In the year 167 Before Christ, Judas Maccabaeus led the Jewish people into battle to preserve the Holy Bible and to establish religious liberty. Judas was called Maccabeus which means "the Hammer" in Aramaic. Centuries later, in the year 732 A.D, Charles Martel, known as "Charles the Hammer," fought to defend the religious liberties of the Christians and Jews in Europe when an army of Islamic terrorists threatened to eradicate Christianity in France. In The Hammer of God learn about the history of the battle for religious freedom, a battle that continues today.
The Ascents of James: A Lost Acts of the Apostles (Create Space 2010)
The Ascents of James is an ancient account of the life of James the Just, the brother of Jesus, that was composed by the Ebionites, an ancient sect of Jewish Christians, at a time close to the end of the first century. In this ancient Jewish Christian book, James and the Twelve Apostles explain their beliefs in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and answer questions from their opponents on the steps of the Temple of Jerusalem. The main argument made in The Ascents of James is that Jesus is the Prophet like Moses prophesied in Deuteronomy 18: 15-22. The Ascents of James provides us with a rare perspective into an extinct and very ancient form of Jewish Christianity.
The Second Adam and the Restoration of All Things (Create Space 2010)
According to the Book of Genesis in the Holy Bible, God created Adam and Eve in a state of harmony with Nature. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were expulsed from the Garden of Eden. In the New Testament, Jesus is described as the Second Adam who brings a restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). Describing the New Testament, Hosea says, "In that day I will make a New Covenant for them with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, to make them lie down safely" (Hosea 2:18). According to the Gospel of Mark, the Good News is Good News for all creatures or all creation (Mark 16:15). The Bible states that in God's New Kingdom, "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:9).
Saint Thaddeus and the King of Assyria: The Aramaic Origins of Christianity (Create Space 2010)
According to ancient manuscripts written in the Aramaic language, Saint Thaddeus, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, traveled to Mesopotamia and preached the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the Assyrians and preached in Chaldea and Babylonian as well. The Assyrian people received the Gospel and became fervent Christians. The Assyrian Church of the East produced many great theologians and scholars. Assyrian missionaries planted churches in India, China, Mongolia and Socotra all before the year 700 A.D. Under the pagan Persians and then later under the Moslems, the Assyrians endured horrific persecution because of their Christian faith. The Assyrian Christians still endure persecution and still live in Iran and Iraq and have survived as a dynamic living testimony to the saving power of Jesus Christ.
A Soldier in Iraq (Upcoming)
A children's book about Stephen's experiences in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.
The Secret of Jabez (Upcoming)
Discover an astonishing truth that has been concealed for centuries and is now unveiled at last! This book tells the story of the first people known to history to have worshiped Yahweh (Jehovah) as the one God, a tribe of Kenite Arabs called the Rechabites. Recent archeological evidence has convinced historians and Bible scholars that it was these Kenites, an Arab tribe that pre-dates Abraham and Ishmael, who were the first to call upon God by the name of "Yahweh," or Jehovah, and to worship him as the one true God. It was they who introduced the Israelites to the worship of Yahweh God. Jabez, who has been popularized through his short prayer found in the book of Chronicles in the Holy Bible, has a unique connection with these Rechabites. Jeremiah called the Rechabites a people blessed by God, and used the example of the faithfulness of this gentile (meaning non-Jewish) people to condemn the great lack of faith in God found among the Israelites. These Rechabites are still wandering the deserts of the Middle East to this very day. They are still devoted to Yahweh and bear on their bodies the emblem of their tribe. This symbol they have bore since their beginning as a people. Like Paul they bear on their bodies "the marks of the Lord Jesus" (Galatians 6:17). They have worn this stigma from time immemorial. Now let us unravel the secrets of the Prayer of Jabez, decode its hidden meaning and unlock the mystery of the lost and forgotten identity of Jabez and reveal the true purpose of his prayer.
(These books are also available in hard copies.)
The Language of Jesus: Introducing Aramaic (2010)
"The Language of Jesus: Introducing Aramaic" is a brief introduction to general facts about the Aramaic language. Bible scholars have determined that Aramaic was the language spoken by Jesus Christ. This book lists the evidence from the Bible, archeology and other ancient records that have led them to this conclusion. Examining the words of Jesus in his native language gives us a deeper understanding of the Messiah and his message. "The Language of Jesus: Introducing Aramaic" serves an important introduction to Aramaic biblical studies and to the last surviving native speakers of the Aramaic language, the Assyrian Christians of Mesopotamia.
Judas Maccabeus: The Hammer of God (2010)
The Story of Judah Maccabee is a timeless inspirational story of great faith and courage against seemingly impossible odds. It is also a timely story about the collision of traditional religion and modernity. Hanukkah celebrates the heroic exploits of Judas Maccabeus and his battle for religious freedom. These events occurred during the four-hundred silent years between the Old and New Testaments. The Seleucid Greeks that ruled over the Jewish people made observing Judaism a capital offense and ordered all copies of the Bible to be collected and burned. In the year 167 Before Christ, Judas Maccabaeus led the Jewish people into battle to preserve the Holy Bible and to establish religious liberty. Judas was called Maccabeus which means "the Hammer" in Aramaic. In Judas Maccabeus: The Hammer of God learn about the history of the battle for religious freedom, a battle that continues today.
(Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies www.jaas.org)
The Assyrian Church in the Mongol Empire, Mar Thoma: The Apostolic Foundation of the Assyrian Church in India, and Socotra: The Mysterious Island of the Church of the East which were published in the Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies (Volume XIII, No. 2, 1999, Volume XIV, No. 2, 2000 and Volume XVI No. 1, 2002).
(Crossover Videos: www.thecrossoverproject.org)
Iraq's Christians in Crisis
The Armenian Genocide
The Assyrians: The Oldest Christian People
Chronicles: Facts from the Bible
The Hammer of God: Character and Historical Reference
The Hammer of God Coloring Book
The Hammer of God Mini-Comic
The Hammer of God: The Battle for Religious Freedom
Reverend Stephen Andrew Missick is the author of The Assyrian Church in the Mongol Empire, Mar Thoma: The Apostolic Foundation of the Assyrian Church in India, and Socotra: The Mysterious Island of the Church of the East which were published in the Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies (Volume XIII, No. 2, 1999, Volume XIV, No. 2, 2000 and Volume XVI No. 1, 2002). He is the author of The Words of Jesus in the Original Aramaic: Discovering the Semitic Roots of Christianity, Mary of Magdala: Magdalene, the Forgotten Aramaic Prophetess of Christianity, Treasures of the Language of Jesus: The Aramaic Source of Christ's Teaching, Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth and Christ the Man. He is an ordained minister of the gospel. He graduated from Sam Houston State University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Rev. Missick has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and has lived among the Coptic Christians in Egypt and Aramaic Christians in Syria. He also served as a soldier in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and 2004. While serving as a soldier in Iraq he learned Aramaic from native Aramaic-speaking Iraqi Assyrian Christians. Rev. Missick is the writer and illustrator of the comic book "The Assyrians: The Oldest Christian People," the comic strip Chronicles: Facts from the Bible and the comic book series The Hammer of God which are available from www.comixpress.com. The Hammer of God comic book series dramatizes the stories of Judah Maccabee and Charles Martel. He has also served as a chaplain in the Army National Guard in Iraq during his second deployment in 2009 and 2010.
Contact Stephen A. Missick at PO Box 882 Shepherd TX 77371 A monthly newsletter, The Aramaic Herald, is available free of charge. DVDs and Gospel tracts with an Aramaic focus are also available from the above address. Rev. Missick has several short video teachings and presentations at www.youtube.com/aramaic12 and a blog at www.aramaicherald.blogspot.com.