A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to spend a day with Diarmuid O’Murchu in a workshop called “Practicing Spirituality in Evolutionary Times.” Among his many thought provoking and inspiring ideas was his presentation on the work of scholar Neil Douglas-Klotz. An academic, with training in hermeneutics and somatic psychology, Klotz’s work has centered on unpacking the teachings of Jesus in Aramaic–the language of many original texts of Jesus’ words. In the preface to an online interview with Klotz, the interviewer Dan Vera says:
Klotz’s work is not about alternative interpretations of the text. On a more profound level, his work is a reminder that our static understandings of biblical texts are actually meaning equivalent of Biblical “Cliff Notes.” In reading the translations that have come down to us, we are seeing only one layer of a text which in its original Aramaic had a multiplicity of possible meanings. And it is through this exploration of multiple meanings of text that we glimpse the linguistic realities of the shamanic quality of Jesus’ teaching. Klotz is dedicated to returning a “sense of place” to Jesus’ teachings, that is, affirming that Jesus was a “native Middle Eastern person” whose “mind and message arise from the same earth as have the traditions of Jewish and Muslim sisters and brothers.”
An example of the linguistic beauty and poetry of the original Aramaic, Klotz offers a translation of The Lord’s Prayer.
THE ARAMAIC PRAYER OF JESUS
as translated from Aramaic in ‘Prayers of the Cosmos‘ by Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz
O, Birther of the Cosmos, focus your light within us -
make it useful
Create your reign of unity now
Your one desire then acts with ours,
As in all light,
So in all forms,
Grant us what we need each day in bread and insight:
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
As we release the strands we hold of other’s 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.
I affirm this with my whole being.