Whose Lord’s Prayer? Whose Same Womb?
Suzanne’s post gives us context to consider “wombly feelings, family loyalty” as understood by “the brother and sister” who are “of the “same womb, biologically related,” children and then adults who experience “the supreme relationship in ancient times.” In this post, I’d like to take this familial relationship (i.e., the relationship of being out of “the same womb” with another individual) as a lens for reading Greek Isaiah 63 and for reading the Greek gospel versions of the Lord’s Prayer.
If we start only merely simply with the lens of common reading – of a common sense reading, say, of using the ubiquitous and popular and sort of crowd sourced wikipedia reading of the Lord’s Prayer, then we start in with the following rather common and ho hum usual:
Someone at anytime can “correct” the wikipedia entry, and yet let’s look at what it is today in English. The first language explicitly mentioned is “Latin.” Implicitly the important language, for sure, is English, which is what readers are reading and the writers were writing; and we English readers have to scroll down a significant way to see the Greek of Matthew’s gospel only, where we’re offered again the Latin with an audio link to hear only the Latin, followed quickly by the English translations.
The wikipedia writers/editors (which could be most any of us) start in by telling us wikipedia readers of the significance of the prayer: “a central” one “in Christianity.” Its name is commonly “the Our Father.” This is all fine and good unless you, the reader, are say Jewish and perhaps are a woman and a mother who’s experienced dominant culture and dominant sex abuses. I’m not trying to make my post here into a feminist one; nonetheless, I think we all have to see the dominant lens of the Patriarchy that predominates much of Western Christianity that uses English. It’s not necessarily that Christian sexist men wrote the wikipedia entry that we start reading above. It is that the sort of language used to define sacred prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer often goes unquestioned as the only language for the only possible view of Reality that there can be. (To correct the narrowness of the English wikipedia entry, one might try first reading the counterpart version in, say, modern Greek just to see how different it can be.)
Because I’m nearly out of time writing this this morning, I’m going to end my post rather abruptly. The burden I’m putting on us readers now is to go to the texts of the Greek Isaiah, which some of us have been reading through this year daily (led by Abram K-J blogger, here). Today’s reading is the beginning of the people’s recollection of the tender mercies of the LORD. Mid-week the reading is the beginning of the Prophet’s prayer to the LORD as “πατὴρ ἡμῶν.”
This is as striking in Greek (the translation of the Hebrew by Jewish brothers and sisters) as it is in the Hebrew. For one thing, the language is as maternal as it is paternal. Let me show the English translation of the Hebrew from The Inclusive Bible:
When the Hebrew was made into Hellene by Jews in the diaspora, the wombly ties that are in the original language are carried through to the Greek language. Isaiah is praying on behalf of his sisters and brothers to the LORD. In Hellene this prayer continues to emphasize as Suzanne puts it how “the brother and sister are adelphos, and adelphé, of the same womb, biologically related.”
Their prayerful appeals are to a God who is more than a father Abraham and more than a father Israel than the named patriarchs could be. This is the kind of Person who is profoundly and viscerally aroused, as with motherly instincts, for them.
When the earliest Jewish readers of the Greek gospels of Matthew and of Luke read the Lord’s prayer there, then there’s possibly not only an echo of the Greek Isaiah (I mean look at all the language referring to coming down from Heaven and to the Name of G-d in the Greek prayers in Greek Isaiah and in the two Greek gospels). There’s also possible in the Greek gospel versions of “πατὴρ ἡμῶν,” the idea of the wombly feelings of sisters and brothers of the same mother. Jesus is instructing the people in Israel, his sisters and his brothers that they may pray to “our Parent,” and this one in Heaven is profoundly aroused with motherly instincts.