Give us this day our New Day's bread...

 

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At first, this might appear a little odd. This is because I have used non-technical words to convey the basic meaning. This reading also understands the 'bread' to be essentially spiritual. In other words, we are being instructed to pray not for material food, but something that will sustain us spiritually. However there is also an added element to this interpretation.

 

Jerome (c.342-420) still exerts a strong influence over Western Christianity today. It was he who translated the Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible into Latin. His Latin translation of the Old Testament and some of the New Testament (although only the Gospels can be attributed to him with any certainty), known as the Vulgate, was later to be used as the base text for the English Authorised (King James) Version. 

As one of the first people to attempt to translate the Bible, Jerome was concerned with the capturing the meaning of the words. 

He interprets the mysterious Greek word epiousios as super-substantial. However, rather than this just being super-substantial (or perhaps 'super-natural) bread, he associates it with the bread of the future coming kingdom; it is eschatological in nature. Interestingly, Jerome partly basis his interpretation on one of the lost Gospels - the Gospel according to the Hebrews. This was an eminently practical course of action. The Greek Gospels all used the problematic epiousios, whereas the Gospel according to the Hebrews provided an alternative (Hebrew) word. This word, according to Jerome, was mahar meaning 'tomorrow'. 

 

Jerome has linked the eschatological dimension of the prayer (praying for the coming Kingdom) to the petition for bread. In this way, the believer is being instructed to pray for the food of the New Day or Kingdom in this present and (to Jerome) turbulent day. 

 

Section from Jerome's commentary on Matthew

In the Gospel according to the Hebrews for 'super-substantial' bread I found mahar, which means 'of the morrow', so that the sense is: Our bread of the morrow, that is, of the future, give us this day.

On Ps. cxxxv. In the Hebrew Gospel according to Matthew it is thus: Our bread of the morrow give us this day; that is, 'the bread which thou wilt give us in thy kingdom, give us this day'.

 

Jerome