The Lord’s Prayer has throughout the epochs of Christian history gone through layers of interpretations and translations. The three variants in Matthew, Luke, and the Didache, are internal and external evidence of hermeneutical traditions and context sensitivity in the handling of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. The study explores the Matthean rendition of the Lord’s Prayer within the socio-linguistic and liturgical milieu of Ewe-Ghanaian Christianity. The study first and foremost identifies and corrects anomalies in existing Ewe translations of Matthew’s rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. The study explored the continuity and discontinuity between the Lord’s Prayer and Ewe libation prayer with the aim of creating a healthy dialogue between Christian prayers and Ewe traditional religious prayers. Employing the critical-historical method, the study delved into the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman backgrounds of the Lord’s Prayer through critical examination of the Kaddish from the Talmud, and other early Jewish prayers predating the Lord’s Prayer. It also explored the continuity and discontinuity between Matthew and Luke’s versions, and assessed its relevance for the 21st century Ewe-Ghanaian Christian.
The advent of Christianity in Africa has resulted in the translation of the Bible into several African indigenous languages, and the Ewe language, spoken by people living in the south-eastern part of Ghana, Togo, and part of Benin, is no exception. The translation of the Bible in general and the Lord’s Prayer in particular from its source language (Greek) to the receptor language (Ewe), has undoubtedly enhanced the spiritual and liturgical life of the Ewe-Ghanaian Christian, especially in the area of prayer. This notwithstanding, the translation of the Bible into the Ewe language, just as in the medieval, modern and postmodern settings, has also led to the creation of linguistic, hermeneutical, theological, doctrinal, and liturgical discrepancies. The exegetical and hermeneutical exercise carried out in this study, is therefore an attempt to address such discrepancies as evident in the themes of the Lord’s Prayer such as Πάτερ and οὐρανοῖς in the invocation, βασιλεία του θέου in the second petition, ἄρτον and ἐπιούσιον in the fourth petition, ὀφειλήματα and ὀφειλέταις in the fifth petition, and πονηρος in the sixth petition. The liturgical relevance of the Lord’s Prayer for the 21st century Ewe-Ghanaian Christian has also been brought into question, especially when viewed within the ambience of popular Ewe-Ghanaian Christian prayers. The question of relevance challenges the ritual of reciting the Lord’s Prayer, the time of its recitation, and popularity, leading to the assertion by a section of the Ewe-Ghanaian Christian fraternity that the Lord’s Prayer has outlived its relevance. The question of relevance therefore stimulated the need for a dialogical engagement between the Lord’s Prayer and the pre-Christian Ewe traditional libation prayer as a response to the theological issue of the Christianization of the libation prayer. The study is therefore the researcher’s contribution to the academic knowledge on the Lord’s Prayer and inspires the use of Mother Tongue Biblical hermeneutics in the development of commentaries, Bible dictionaries, lexicons, concordances, and study bibles for the Ewe Christian communities in Ghana, Togo and Benin.