Yesterday I had the privilege of dialoging with Aramaic scholar Neil Douglas-Klotz with an audience of over 1200 people on zoom, he in Scotland where he lives and I in northern California. The title of our event was “Cosmic Christ and the Aramaic Jesus.”
I was pleased years ago to write a Foreword to Neil Douglas Klotz’s first book, Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus where he translates the “Our Father” prayer and the Beatitudes from the Aramaic language which Jesus himself spoke.
I began that Foreword with these words: “Reader beware: though this book is brief, it contains the seeds of a revolution.” I do not think history has proven me mistaken.
To challenge language is revolutionary, and we can easily miss the point when we leave out the language that Jesus spoke. As if we could ever receive the full nuance and expression from Jesus’s heart to our own hearts by way of Greek (which Jesus did not speak but the gospel editors wrote in) or Latin or German or English, etc.
Klotz therefore has gone back to the primary text. We can easily miss the meaning of a poetic or mystical text if we translate outside the context and culture of the person speaking. This is why Klotz’s method and purpose is so valuable.
His new book, Revelations of the Aramaic Jesus, comes out in two weeks and I wrote a Foreward to that book also.
We often use Klotz’s translation of the “Our Father” prayer in our Cosmic Masses and invariably people come up afterwards and say, “Where did you get that translation of the Lord’s Prayer? I want a copy.”
This has taught me a very valuable lesson: Much too much of religious language has become rote. Religion easily dies when it succumbs to rote. The Aramaic translations of Klotz cut through the rote and bring us to the deeper meanings of Jesus’s teachings that can still touch our hearts, move our souls, and ignite our action.
What does “rote” mean? Webster’s Dictionary defines “learning by rote” this way:
’Learn by rote’ means the use of memory usually with little intelligence;
–Routine or repetition carried out mechanically or unthinkingly;
–A joyless sense of order;
–A commercial hustle.
Do any of these observations speak to your experience of religion today?
Adapted from Matthew Fox, “Foreword: Beyond Religion as Rote,” in Neil Douglas Klotz, Revelations of the Aramaic Jesus (Charlottesville, Va: Hampton Roads, 2022), pp. ix-xi.
See also Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, pp. 155, 352
See also Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ
and Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus, Stations of the Cosmic Christ.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea.” Painting by James Tissot (1836–1902) in the Brooklyn Museum. Wikimedia Commons.
Queries for Contemplation
Have you experienced religious prayer at times “by rote”? What efforts do you make to spice it up and get to a deeper and fresher meaning? To take your experience as the starting point?
The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance
In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.
Stations of the Cosmic Christ
By Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus.
This is a book of meditations on the Cosmic Christ, accompanying the images of 16 wonderful clay tablets by Javier Ullrrich Lemus and M.C. Richards. Together, these images and meditations go far beyond the traditional Stations of the Cross to inspire a spirit awakening and understanding of the cosmic Christ Consciousness, Buddha consciousness, and consciousness of the image of God in all beings, so needed in our times.
“A divinely inspired book that must be read by every human being devoted to spiritual and global survival. It is cosmically brilliant.” — Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit