Gutting the Lord’s Prayer: an Example

Sometimes the familiar Scripture we grew up with is given such a bizarre twist that we are caught off guard. People tend to be trusting of something that looks like it is researched and has a seemingly sound explanation.

Ironically, the more bizarre the twisting, it seems the more people cling to it.

The following is an example of how the Lord’s Prayer was gutted and twisted by something pretending to be a scholarly source. This example demonstrates an attempt to redefine the Lord’s Prayer so that it can serve in Newageism and Neopaganism.

I picked up the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensamble (SAVAE) compact disc titled Ancient Echoes several years ago.

SAVAE intended to study A.Z. Idelsohn‘s musicology and create an album that made what could possibly have been the way music, particularly religious music, might possibly could have sounded like in the time of Jesus’ sacrificial ministry.

The instrumentation is “mostly” reconstructed period pieces. The melodies and the modes along with harmonies are “mostly” imagined.

But it’s a pretty good set of musical pieces even as a collection of creative anachronisms.

It was the explanation of one particular piece in the CD booklet that caught my attention. The third cut is titled Abwoon (O Father-Mother of the Cosmos) The Aramaic Lord’s Prayer.

OK, let’s be clear. The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic does not say “Mother of the Cosmos” anywhere. So I open the booklet to read what they say about this piece.
SAVAE’s Lowquality Audio Sample of Abwoon.

3. ABWOON (FATHER-MOTHER OF THE COSMOS) The Aramaic Lord’s Prayer
Text from the Aramaic Peshitta, Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4
Chant composed in the Ancient Dorian Mode by Christopher Moroney-Improvised solo by Covita Moroney.
Aramaic is a Middle Eastern language that was the native tongue of Jesus of Nazareth, and common to the Israel/Palestine region during the first century C.E. This musical setting of the prayer of Jesus–sometimes called the Lord’s Prayer–includes traditional Middle Eastern percussion, rhythms, and improvisational modal chanting. All the Semitic Languages–including Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic–use a root system that allows one word to hold multiple meanings. Thus, a tradition of translation arose in the Middle East that led to each word of a prophet being considered on many different levels of meaning.

O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos,
focus your light within us. Create your reign of unity now.
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
but free us from what holds us back.
From You is born all ruling will, the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all, from age to age it renews.
Truly–power to these statements–may they be the ground
from which all our actions grow. Amen.

(Translation of the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer from Desert Wisdom by Neil Douglas-Klotz 1995)

This is a rendition of the Lord’s Prayer that could make it as a part of the musical Hair–even Shaggy and Scooby could get behind this!

Found at Wikipedia

Apart from the dismissive “sometimes called the Lord’s Prayer” the booklet’s description of the way Semitic Languages work is a trivializing inaccuracy that highlights the abuse of etymology in interpretation. The problem here being that this false view of language is used as an excuse to claim that the text offered here in place of the Lord’s Prayer ought to be considered on the level of a translation. It is not. This so-called “translation” is a deliberate misrepresentation of the Lord’s Prayer which was done to serve another purpose.

This strange interpretation is not due to any unique feature of Semitic languages (Aramaic, here). This strange translation does not have any basis in the Aramaic text of the Peshitta (the Aramaic Bible used by the Syrian Christian Church). The Aramaic text says the same thing the Greek text says, and the same thing the King James Version says. Nor is this strange interpretation due to any historically demonstrated tradition in the Syrian Christian Church (which uses Aramaic).

This strange interpretation is the work of Neil Douglas-Klotz. Klotz is the director of the Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Learning in Edinburgh, Scotland (EIAL). That’s a really impressive sounding name. Actually they are a religious institution designed to promote a multi-religious approach to personal political action. An approach which, of course, excludes Creedal Christianity. From their web page:

EIAL offers education and sponsorship for learning opportunities in applied spirituality, that is, the application of spiritual practice and experience to everyday life: peace studies, ecology and psychology. We distinguish “spirituality,” which has to do with human experiences, from “religion,” which has to do with organizational belief and structure. We believe that spritualilty and holistic education are best conducted in a context that includes:

  • Soma and Psyche: the human relationship to being embodied: breath, flesh, perception of movement, sensation, emotion, intuition, vision and dream.
  • Ecos: the human relationship to its home communities, which include both nature and culture, as well as the influence that each can have on the other.
  • Art and Creativity: the human relationship to creativity,which emulates that of the cosmos itself, and leads to a natural sense of ecological, social and moral responsibility, revealing the purpose in life of each human being.
  • Devotion: the human relationship to relationship itself: the recognition that “I” am not alone, “you” are not alone; that “I” and “you” are, as the Sufi poet Shabistari wrote, only “delicate holes cut in a lampshade” revealing the light of intelligence itself. A religionist might call this “God” (or “Goddess”); an atheist might call it “the eternally evolving nature of matter.” These names are themselves only more holes in the lampshade.
  • Action: Real reseach [sic] is action research: learning as one goes along and taking responsibility for the social and political impact of one’s study and experience.

In his own biography Klotz emphasizes the influence of Edgar Cayce upon him as he grew up in a “freethinking” and “devout” family.  Critical in his development was his initiation into Sufism:

Beginning in 1976, Klotz was very privileged to study with the early students of the American Hebrew/Sufi mystic Samuel L. Lewis, who introduced him to the body prayer meditations called the Dances of Universal Peace. [Bio]

His own projects include the incorporation of spiritual dance with his re-interpretation of prayers from almost any source. The projects include the above mentioned EIAL, International Network for the Dances of Universal Peace, Edinbrugh International Festival of Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace, and the Abwoon Resource Center.

My reason for bringing out the background of the man who created this rendition of the Lord’s Prayer is to highlight that integrity to the original text and original meaning had no bearing on Klotz’ translation. Quite simply, the original intent was irrelevant. What he produced was a lyric of anti-Christian Newage ecumenism and Socialist politics.

This is just one example of how the world twists God’s Word for its own purposes. The rhetorical affect of the title of the CD combined with the claim to have based everything on historical research gives Klotz’ gutting re-interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer the disguise of a pretended antiquity. The oldest question is still the question at the heart of the matter: “Did God really say…?” When it sounds different, go back to the Scripture.

Pastor Joseph Abrahamson

About Pastor Joseph Abrahamson

Pastor Joseph Abrahamson serves Clearwater Lutheran Parish (E.L.S.): a parish of four Confessional Lutheran congregations in very rural Northwestern, Minnesota. He and his wife, Mary, have 10 children. Pastor Abrahamson is a graduate of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, and of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies. He has served on the Faculty/Staff at Bethany Lutheran College teaching Religion, Linguistics, Archaeology, and Self-Defense; and was on Staff at the University of Wisconsin as an Information Processing Consultant (Computer Geek) while doing graduate work in Semitics. Pastor Abrahamson has served Clearwater Lutheran Parish (ELS) since Dec. 2001.

Comments

Gutting the Lord’s Prayer: an Example — 8 Comments

  1. Disgusting, but not surprising from those who worship the created instead of the Creator, including the “cosmos” and humanity.

  2. Gutting the Lord’s Prayer is just one of numerous assaults against the Bible and Christian Orthodoxy we are seeing in our day. Liberal churches change the words to historical and traditional hymns, making them politically correct, gender neutral, and conforming to their apostate and heretical teachings. If you watch a television documentary on the story of David, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the parting of the Red Sea, even the birth of Jesus, the producers will bring out a cast of enlightened religious “experts” to explain that the Biblical accounts are probably not true; the “experts” will conclude that David was a mere political opportunist, that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by a meteor explosion, that much of what we know is myth. Why? The reasons for these things is to diminish the Bible, and dismiss the sovereignty of God, and replace it with a secular humanist philosophy. However, such devices are the work of Satan and his earthly followers…..and in the end….will fail. These are times in which the faithful remnant of believers must stand and contend for the truth.

  3. I looked at the EIAI pages. They appear to have no physical address. So, they are an “institute” in the sense that BJS is an institute, that is, they exist as a group of a (very) few people, likely fewer than BJS. I mean, delusions of grandeur it appears to me, calling themselves an institute. If each pastor listed on the sidebar here posted his Sunday Bible class, the classes taught monthly by members of the BJS “institute” would likely outnumber the classes they teach by 100:1.

    Their rendition of the Lord’s Prayer reminds me of Rev. Wolfmueller’s “Heresy Two-step” where something is first abstracted and then twisted. It seems blasphemous.

  4. @Nicholas #4

    Yeah, what is up with that? I know of a few pastors, including my own, that just LOVE “The Message.” He uses it in sermons, which I guess is okay in a way, since sermons try to explain things. But it then gives credence to the PARAPHRASE (not translation) as authoritative. Oh how I wish we could expunge it from our congregation… and synod. It is total drivel. (and then confuses the snot out of Gary on the other thread…)

  5. Bravo! You all would be considered true loyalists by King James (and others) who altered the Truth of the original bible for his own political and social reasons in order to control the masses through fear, omission, misrepresentation and ignorance. Yet you attack and criticize those who have sought to understand the original meaning? The Aramaic language is intentionally multi-leveled/layered in order to encourage truth-seekers to look beyond the surface and truly seek the nature of God. Ignorance and fear breed erroneous judgement, cruelty, and hatred, which is painfully obvious here, as it is abundantly thrown at anyone who doesn’t blindly believe what you have been told to believe. How is that making you a good Christian??? It is obviously much easier to condemn and attack, even when the Bible says to judge not, lest you also be judged. Believe what you will, but know WHY you believe it. Belief holds no value unless you have sought the Truth for yourself and understand it. Blind ignorance, on the other hand, is a dangerous thing. LEARN, SEEK TO UNDERSTAND, AND ONLY THEN WILL YOU KNOW. IT IS THE ONLY WAY.

  6. ܡܶܛܽܠ ܕ݁ܚܳܙܶܝܢ ܘܠܳܐ ܚܳܙܶܝܢ ܘܫܳܡܥܺܝܢ ܘܠܳܐ ܫܳܡܥܺܝܢ ܘܠܳܐ ܡܶܣܬ݁ܰܟ݁ܠܺܝܢ
    And
    Η καμήλα δεν βλέπει την καμπούρα της.

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