The Lord's Prayer

Anna Wierzbicka

in What Did Jesus Mean?

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780195137330
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199867905 | DOI:
The Lord's Prayer

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As the linguist and renowned expert in the field of Bible translation, Eugene Nida has pointed out, “almost no lay person understands the meaning of the first petition in the Lord's prayer (Hallowed be thy name). In fact, there are good reasons to think that the Lord's Prayer as a whole is often incomprehensible to lay people – not only in societies distant, geographically and culturally, from European culture but also in the traditionally Christian West. This chapter shows how the meaning of the metaphors of “Father,” “kingdom” and “bread,” and of all the petitions can be explained in simple and universal human concepts, in a way which would make it comprehensible to children as well as adults, and to Papuans or Zulus as well as Europeans or Americans. Above all, it shows how the meaning of the Lord's Prayer can be transferred into languages that have no words, or concepts, like “forgive” and how it can be explained to people who may not value fathers, kingdoms, or bread. It also shows that once the notion of “God” has been explained in universal human concepts, the idea of “Kingdom of God” can be explained, in all languages, in terms of “living with God, with other people.”

Keywords: Bible translation; incomprehensibility of the petitions; metaphor of bread; metaphor of Father; metaphor of kingdom

Chapter.  14356 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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