has been suggested that the missing word (epiousios) refers
to some kind of measurement (as in a day's ration). Although the
only instance of it occurrence outside (dependent) Christian
literature (Sb 5224, 20) once appeared to support this position, it
is now generally accepted that this is far from certain.
Most modern English translations
tend to present a fairly simple reading which relates to the daily
provision of bread without referring to the difficulty or ambiguity
in the wording. Nevertheless, even in the English a certain amount
of redundancy can be detected - give us this DAY our DAILY
One line of thought suggests that
daily (epiousios) is a way to emphasise that we should
restrict our prayer to one day's worth of bread and trust God for
tomorrow. During the Exodus, the Israelites were required to collect
only enough manna for their daily needs.
Against this reading is the
argument the the closest word to epiousios is epiousa.
Epiousa means 'the next day'. Jerome (and others) understood
this as referring to future (eschatological) bread - see New
Day's Bread. Nevertheless, if we are to keep with the more
mundane reading referring to material bread, it can simply instruct
us to pray for tomorrow's bread. This does create a rather strange
petition ('Give us today tomorrow's bread'). It has been suggested
(although, in my view not very convincingly) that this refers to the
Jewish day beginning at sunset, so that tomorrow is in fact part of
Origen was one of the first people
to argue that Matthew and Luke made this word up because of the
clause's inherent clumsiness. We have only three ancient versions;
Matthew, Luke and Didache (a Christian instructional document
written shortly after the Gospels). These are set out in synopsis
below. It can be seen that the Didache follows Matthew's wording.
However, Luke does appear to attempt to circumvent the awkwardness
of Matthew's version by emphasising the continuing daily