I have seen several different translations of Matthew 6:12 and even seen them used liturgically. Here is it in the Greek:

καὶ  ἄφες  ἡμῖν  τὰ  ὀφειλήματα  ἡμῶν,  ὡς  καὶ  ἡμεῖς  ἀφήκαμεν  τοῖς  ὀφειλέταις  ἡμῶν

In particular I am interested in why there are so many different translations of ὀφειλήματα (translations I have seen include "debts", "sins", "trespasses" and "missing of the mark") what doctrinal considerations either of the translators or their intended audience and/or translational nuances lead to these differences?

  • I've tried to improve this question if anyone would like to suggest further improvements please feel free.
    – Reluctant_Linux_User
    Oct 17 '14 at 1:32
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    I'm not sure what kind of answer you're hoping for. The obvious answer would be "Because that use of ὀφειλήματα doesn't have a single, obvious direct translation into English." Asking for doctrinal considerations is a very broad question. If you were to ask about a specific translation, or a comparison of two specific ones, that might make it more focused, but I'm still not sure if that's what you're getting at. Are you asking what the word means? What the correct translation would be?
    – Flimzy
    Oct 17 '14 at 3:01
  • My understanding is that the most direct translation is "debt". However, it has been translated a number of different ways. I assume this is to fit in with doctrine either that or in Koine greek in the new testament the word for debt carries a lot of extra meaning that I don't really know about.
    – Reluctant_Linux_User
    Oct 17 '14 at 3:04
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    Context always matters when translating (Biblical texts or otherwise). Even if the word does mean literally "debt", it clearly can't mean simply that in that context, as we owe no monetary debt to God. So obviously some other sort of meaning (whether implicit in the word, or only in the contextual use of that word in a metaphorical sense) is necessary.
    – Flimzy
    Oct 17 '14 at 3:08
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    See also: Forgive us our "debts"? "sins"? "trespasses"?...
    – Susan
    Oct 17 '14 at 10:44

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