Jesus is said to have used the Aramaic word ABBA in the Lord's Prayer. The word was perhaps used by children to address their father and was similar to what toady's children address their father as Daddy. In a few languages besides English, I have seen that the word used is the one which has more formal and literary usage than the word Daddy which in many ways expresses the bond between the children and their earthly father.

I would like to know what exactly the word used to address the Heavenly Father in the Lord's Prayer in ancient English was. Are there any authentic studies available from the side of Catholic Church on the passage, from ancient times to the modern, of the Lord's Prayer with specific reference to the way of addressing it uses ?

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    Keep in mind that what we have for the original text is in Greek and in Latin, and these languages might not have used the less formal wiped, even if they had one, for cultural reasons. – Matt Gutting Jan 2 '16 at 13:56
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    The Lord's Prayer, however, was meant for us, not Jesus. (See Mt. 6:9.) Jesus did address his Father as “Abba” (Mk 14:36), but the word he used for the Lord's Prayer was Πάτερ (Páter)—which is simply “Father.” – AthanasiusOfAlex Jan 2 '16 at 15:13
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    πατήρ – Susan Jan 2 '16 at 17:43
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    It's about the history of the Church in the English language. – Andrew Leach Jan 3 '16 at 11:03
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    This is clearly a linguistics question. It has a relevance to Christian study, granted, but it is entirely about the translation and definitions of ancient words. These areas of study do inform and influence Christianity, but they are done by linguist and historians, not by theologians, and thus the proper place to ask this level of question is of experts in these areas, which would be Linguistics.SE or English.SE. In the same way, questions about how archaeology is conducted belong on an Archaeology site, even if the conclusions of that archaeology are relevant to Christianity. – Flimzy Jan 3 '16 at 20:32

Although Jesus was likely to have spoken Aramaic or Hebrew, the Gospels were preserved in Greek using the word πατήρ/πάτερ, as was noted in the comments; this became the Latin pater. In England up to the Reformation, liturgically the Lord's Prayer was always in Latin.

However, Wikisource has Old English (10th–11th century) and Middle English (14th century) versions†:

Fæder ūre, þū þe eart on heofonum;
Sīe þīn nama gehālgod,

Oure fadir that art in heuenes,
halewid be thi name;

The word was cognate with the modern English Father. Whether Fæder or fadir were as formal as "Father" is today is not easily discovered, but it's likely that they were not; children routinely addressed their parents as "Mother" and "Father" until comparatively recently, and OED does not have Dad/Daddy recorded until the 16th century.

† The later version is from Tyndale's Bible. The earlier source is not identified.

  • OK. It's an interesting question then as to which word he actually used, which was recorded as πάτερ and thence to Latin. If he used a diminutive term, did Greek have an equivalent? -- if it didn't then we've lost something. Arguably, of course, English hasn't had the baby-talk Daddy for very long, though [first recorded 16th C], so we would not actually have had a word to use (so the OE fæder would have been preserved anyway). That is probably a question for BH. – Andrew Leach Jan 3 '16 at 11:51
  • According to this article, the Aramaic ”Abba” is simply the word for ”Father,” not the diminutive. Interesting. Another site shows how Jesus’ Aramaic might have sounded. (Not sure how rigorous it is, but it is interesting as well.) – AthanasiusOfAlex Jan 3 '16 at 14:01
  • Very interesting discussion. So it sounds like we can't back translate the Greek into Aramaic to know whether Jesus used the word abba, and further that it is very unclear that word in Aramaic was used as a sense of a small child's word or just plain father. Maybe it would help to point out that this is a communal to prayer -- our father, which is a little different when a child calls out. I think in English we would not say "our daddy". – bobwki Jan 3 '16 at 15:08
  • It appears that Greek and Latin did have a word for "dad", in fact a cognate: tata. – Matt Gutting Jan 5 '16 at 0:07
  • Bible scholar Jack Kilmon presents this retro-translation of the Lord Prayer into Aramaic in his website Scriptorium : Abba ( Father) yitqadDASH sheMAK ( Holy is your name) Teteh malKOOtak (Your kingdom come) LahmaNA di misteYA ( Our daily bread/food) heb laNAH yoMA deNAH ( Give us today) UsheBUQ laNAH hobayNA ( Forgive us our debts) kedi shebaqNA lehayYA-bayNA ( As we forgive our debtors) we’AL ta`elinNA lenisYONA (and do not lead us to the test.**) (Do not allow us to come to the test) – Kadalikatt Joseph Sibichan Jan 9 '16 at 8:25

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