Daily (?)

If you had a Catholic or any sort of Christian upbringing, you’ll know this one:

Our Father who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

The most famous prayer in the world?  Maybe.  But what about “daily” there?  While reading a list of hapex legomenon,

a word that occurs only once within a context, either in the written record of an entire language, in the works of an author, or in a single text.

I learned that “daily” in this case is an ancient Greek hapex legomenon.

Epiousios, translated into English as ″daily″ in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:3, occurs nowhere else in all of the known ancient Greek literature, and is thus a hapax legomenon in the strongest sense.

So, this word, that’s only used once, epiousios, what exactly did it mean?  Wikipedia:

The difficulty in understanding epiousios goes at least as far back as AD 382… At that time, St. Jerome was commissioned by Pope Damasus I to renew and consolidate the various collections of biblical texts in the Vetus Latina (“Old Latin”) then in use by the Church. Jerome accomplished this by going back to the original Greek of the New Testament and translating it into Latin; his translation came to be known as the Vulgate. In the identical contexts of Matthew and Luke—that is, reporting the Lord’s Prayer—Jerome translated epiousios in two different ways: by morphological analysis as ‘supersubstantial’ (supersubstantialem) in Matthew 6:11, but retaining ‘daily’ (quotidianum) in Luke 11:3.

The modern Catholic Catechism holds that there are several ways of understanding epiousios, including the traditional ‘daily’, but most literally as ‘supersubstantial’ or ‘superessential’, based on its morphological components. Alternative theories are that—aside from the etymology of ousia, meaning ‘substance’—it may be derived from either of the verbs einai (εἶναι), meaning “to be”, or ienai (ἰέναι), meaning both “to come” and “to go”.

Other ideas:

Kenneth E. Bailey, a professor of theology and linguistics, proposed “give us today the bread that doesn’t run out” as the correct translation. The Syriac versions of the Bible were some of the first translations of the Gospels from the Greek into another language. Syriac is also close to Jesus’ own Aramaic, and the translators close in time and language to Jesus should thus have had considerable insight into his original meanings. In Syriac epiousios is translated as anemo, meaning lasting or perpetual.

Wrote to my friend BVZ who’s a pastor out in Oklahoma, he sent me some Biblical commentaries that suggest a connection with words that meant “ration.”

Today’s? Every day’s? Tomorrow’s? A day’s worth of? Earned? Special? Sacred? Eternal? Magic? Holy? Sustaining? Nutritious?

What did epiousios mean?

Maybe the prayer should go:

give us this day, our wonder bread.



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