Matt 6:11 – Daily (?) Bread

See others:  Bible Manipulations

Ian, over at Irreducible Complexity, did a fantastic exploration showing how translations of Matt 6:11, the well-known Lord’s Prayer,  has been manipulated.  The RSV reads: “Give us this day our daily bread”.  Here is the Greek (Codex Sinaiticus):  τον αρτον ημων τον επιουσιον δος ημιν σημερον

And here is the word-by-word Greek: τον (this) αρτον (bread) ημων (our)  τον (this) επιουσιον (? daily) δος (give) ημιν (us) σημερον (today)

But is the word “επιουσιον (epi-ousion)” translated correctly as “daily”? Unfortunately in the NT, the word is only used in the Lord’s Prayer (found also in Luke 11:13 and The Didache 8:2). Consequently controversy over how to translate abounds.  There appears to be two main schools of thought on this: the Daily crew (Protestants) and the “Super-Substantial” crew (Catholics).  Again, read Ian for the details.  But below are examples of translations.

Protestant-Friendly Catholic-Friendly
KJV, NASB, ESV, NIV, RSV …

Give us this day our daily bread.

Latin Vulgate (some codices)

panem nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis hodie

Douay-Rhelms Bible

Give us this day our supersubstantial bread.

Ian’s Translation

Give us today our supernatural bread.

Sinaiticus Translation

Give us this day our needful bread.

Darby Bible Translation

give us to-day our needed bread.

Interestingly, Wesley’s Notes on this are:

6:11 Give us – O Father (for we claim nothing of right, but only of thy free mercy) this day – (for we take no thought for the morrow) our daily bread – All things needful for our souls and bodies: not only the meat that perisheth, but the sacramental bread, and thy grace, the food which endureth to everlasting life.

Strong’s rationalizations for the Protestant translation follows:

ἐπιούσιος (epiousios 1967)
daily

(a word coined by our Lord, and found only as below), coming upon or over one, here qualifying the word “bread”, not “daily”. It refers to the bread “which cometh down from heaven”, and is compared and contrasted with the manna, Joh 6:32,33. This bread came down upon them, and came in a daily supply; hence it is here coupled with the word (σήμερον (sēmeron 4594)), “this day”, but separated from it by the words (δὸς ἡμῖν (dos hēmin)), “give to us”. (It cannot be derived from ἐπί (epi 1909) upon, and εἰμί (eimi 1510) to be, because the participle would in that case be ἐπούσα (epousa); but it is from ἐπί (epi 1909) upon, and εἶμι (eimi 1510) to go or come, with participle ἐπιούσα (epiousa 1966).) Literally “our bread, coming upon us, give us this day” or “our bread for our going upon (or journeying), give us this day”.

long definition about

ἐπιούσιος (epiousios, 1967), -ον, a word found only in Mt. vi. 11 and Lk. xi. 3, in the phrase ἄρτος ἐπιούσιος ([Pesh.] Syr. ) Vn ^x V ο> 1 ni nm< the bread of our necessity, i. e. necessary for us [but the Curetonian (earlier) Syriac reads j ι*Vn] continual; cf. Bp. Lghtft. as below, I. 3 p. 214 sqq.; Taylor, Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, p. 139 sq.]; Itala [Old Lat.] panis quotidianus). Origent estifies [de orat. 27] that the word was not in use in ordinary speech, and accordingly seems to have been coined by the Evangelists themselves. Many commentators, as Beza, Kuinoel, Tholuck, Ewald, Bleek, Keim, Cremer, following Origen, Jerome (who in Mt. only translates by the barbarous phrase panis supersubstantialis), Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, explain the word by bread for sustenance, which serves to sustain life, deriving the word from οὐσία, after the analogy of ἐξούσιος, ἐνούσιος. But οὐσία very rarely, and only in philosophic language, is equiv. to ὕπαρξις, as in Plato, Theaet. p. 185 c. (opp. to τὸ μὴ εἶναι), Aristot. de part. anim. i. 1 (ἡ γὰρ γένεσις ἕνεκα τῆς οὐσίας ἐστίν, ἀλλ’ οὐχ ἡ οὐσία ἕνεκα τῆς γενέσεως; for other exx. see Bonitz’s Index to Aristot. p. 544), and generally denotes either essence, real nature, or substance, property, resources. On this account Leo Meyer (in Kuhn, Zeitschr. f. vergleich. Sprachkunde, vii. pp. 401-430), Kamphausen (Gebet des Herrn, pp. 86-102), with whom Keim (ii. 278 sq. [Eng. trans. iii. 340]), Weiss (Mt. l. c.), Delitzsch (Zeitschr. f. d. luth. Theol. 1876 p. 402), agree, prefer to derive the word from ἐπεῖναι (and in particular fr. the ptcp. ἐπῶν, ἐπούσιος for ἐπόντιος, see below) to be present, and to understand it bread which is ready at hand or suffices, so that Christ is conjectured to have said in Chald. לַחְמָא דְחֻקָּנָא (cf. לֶחֶם חֻקִּי my allowance of bread, Prov. xxx. 8) or something of the sort. But this opinion, like the preceding, encounters the great objection (to mention no other) that, although the ι in ἐπί is retained before a vowel in certain words (as ἐπίορκος, ἐπιορκέω, ἐπιόσσομαι, etc. [cf. Bp. Lghtft., as below, I. § 1]), yet in ἐπεῖναι and words derived from it, ἐπουσία, ἐπουσιώδης, it is always elided. Therefore much more correctly do Grotius, Scaliger, Wetstein, Fischer (De vitiis lexx. etc. p. 306 sqq.), Valckenaer, Fritzsche (on Mt. p. 267 sqq.), Winer (97 (92)), Bretschneider, Wahl, Meyer, [Bp. Lghtft. (Revision etc., App.)] and others, comparing the words ἑκούσιος, ἐθελούσιος, γερούσιος, (fr. ἑκών, ἐθέλων, γέρων, for ἑκόντιος, ἐθελόντιος, γερόντιος, cf. Kühner i. § 63, 3 and § 334, 1 Anm. 2), conjecture that the adjective ἐπιούσιος is formed from ἐπιών, ἐπιοῦσα, with reference to the familiar expression ἡ ἐπιοῦσα (see ἔπειμι), and ἄρτος ἐπιούσιος is equiv. to ἄρτος τῆς ἐπιούσης ἡμέρας, food for the morrow, i. e. necessary or sufficient food. Thus ἐπιούσιον and σήμερον admirably answer to each other, and that state of mind is portrayed which, piously contented with food sufficing from one day to the next, in praying to God for sustenance does not go beyond the absolute necessity of the nearest future. This explanation is also recommended by the fact that in the Gospel according to the Hebrews, as Jerome testifies, the word ἐπιούσιος was represented by the Aramaic מְחַר, “quod dicitur crastinus”; hence it would seem that Christ himself used the Chaldaic expression לַחְמָא דִי לִמְחַר. Nor is the prayer, so understood, at variance with the mind of Christ as expressed in Mt. vi. 34, but on the contrary harmonizes with it finely; for his hearers are bidden to ask of God, in order that they may themselves be relieved of anxiety for the morrow. [See Bp. Lghtft., as above, pp. 195-234; McClellan, The New Test. etc. pp. 632-647; Tholuck, Bergpredigt, Mt. l. c., for earlier reft]*

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6 Comments

Filed under Philosophy & Religion

6 responses to “Matt 6:11 – Daily (?) Bread

  1. rey

    I saw a translation once that said “give us this day the bread of tomorrow.”

  2. @ Rey
    yeah, that seems to still be in the “Protestant-Friendly” class of translations.

  3. Andrew

    Sab,
    This is going to be another one of my stretches, but since I’m not really interested in original texts and manipulated/over-rationalized evolutions in meanings and wordings, please forgive this ‘modern hijack’ as it were…

    Ok, so a certain UCC minister was struggling with the Lord’s Prayer, She and with her congregation took on the task of rewriting it. The goal was not to translate it into today but to come up with something new and useful and meaningful for people. I meant to do something about it on my blog but likely won’t get to it for a month or two now. So I submit their offering, and ask you and your readers to evaluate it. Not just on Christian terms (which it has few to none), but just on the usefulness of it. Does this offend Christians? Does this offend Atheists? Is it too cutesy-poo meaningless? This is kind of tied to your prayer-post a few days ago. Would this harm anyone by using it day-to-day?

    As I live every day,
    I want to be a channel for peace.
    May I bring love where there is hatred
    and healing where there is hurt;
    joy where there is sadness
    and hope where there is fear.
    I pray that I may always try
    to understand and comfort other people
    as well as seeking comfort and understanding
    from them.
    Wherever possible, may I choose to be
    a light in the darkness,
    a help in times of need,
    and a caring, honest friend.
    and may justice, kindness, and peace
    flow from my heart forever,
    Amen.

    If this is just too much of a hijack, then delete this comment and we can talk about it later, which is fine.

  4. Cute prayer. But in the end they are chanting reminders to themselves — that is cool. But gee, it seems these UU have to half buy into some external help. An awkward position for me. But it seems to work for alot of folks.

    But this post is about the translation, not a better prayer. You are right, it is a hijack. But heck, not too many folks here right now.

  5. Andrew

    Hey again,

    Ok, so I thought I would let it breathe so that if the conversation got back on your track, I’d leave it alone. Since not, and since you did reply, I’m going on.

    I think it’s actually meant to be just that — a cute prayer, a mantra for getting the mind back on track and an admittance to either needing help from outside, or at least recognizing there is an outside (read: anti-solipsism?). But that doesn’t have to mean or suggest supernatural-ism. There is nothing in the prayer that can be explicitly read ‘supernatural’. I recognize the help I get from you and the help I get from the toast I had for breakfast without thinking either one is supernatural.

    Where I did want to direct this discussion was towards this question: who would you trust more– someone that said the Lord’s prayer or this prayer every day (using biases, personal experiences, story, to influence judgment of course). And this: what ‘prayer’ best achieves the intention?

    [btw, UCC, not UU. Although yes, really the likely progression of UCC + a few more years of deliberation will = UU, if I’m reading your UU correctly]

  6. Again, sure, I prefer the cute prayer — no magic.

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