Supersubstantial bread?


My desire to get the Douay bible was briefly derailed by Matt 6:11, which is rendered:
“Give us this day our supersubstantial bread”

While I chalk it up to some weird ye olde days rendering, I pulled up the vulgate:
"Panem nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis hodie,"
This is retained in the Nova Vulgata, in case anyone want to claim Pre-Vatican II stuff can be ignored.

And compare to Pater Nostra
"Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie"

Clearly, there is a good reason why our church want to retain this unintelligble word, which makes Pater Nostra not “complete” in Matthew, but require a combination with Luke, on both English and Latin. Based on what everyone knows, what does “supersubstantial” means? Eucharist?


St Jerome is inconsistent in his translation of the Lord’s Prayer, and his erroneous translation of the longer form is what made it into liturgical use in the West. “Supersubstantial” is the correct translation. There are several ways you can say “daily” in Greek and “επιούσιον” is not one of them.

I considered it to be a reference to the eucharist and I have found at least one Church Father with the same view, though I cannot remember the reference off the top of my head.


**Catechism of the Catholic Church

2837** “Daily” (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of "this day,"128 to confirm us in trust “without reservation.” Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence.129 Taken literally (epi-ousios: “super-essential”), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the “medicine of immortality,” without which we have no life within us.130 Finally in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: “this day” is the Day of the Lord, the day of the feast of the kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come. For this reason it is fitting for the Eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated each day.

The Eucharist is our daily bread. the power belonging to this divine food makes it a bond of union. Its effect is then understood as unity, so that, gathered into his Body and made members of him, we may become what we receive… This also is our daily bread: the readings you hear each day in church and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities for our pilgrimage.131

The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven.132


Thanks, Wesrock and prodromos. I understand from Origen that the word epiousios was not used by any Greek writers and was likely a new cognate coined by the Evangelist to express either a concept that was untranslatable from Hebrew or Aramaic or perhaps to express the over arching necessity of the Eucharist.

I know that Pope Benedict XIV had also written something saying that the early Church Fathers unanimously agreed that it was in reference to the Eucharist. As the Hebrews received manna each day in the desert, so to are we sustained by the Bead of Life.


I don’t think it is the Eucharist alone. The Eucharist, the Word, the Mass and the Sacraments could all be considered ‘beyond substance’ though having the appearance of substance - bread, book, ritual.

Our daily earthly needs that are not ‘beyond substance’ could also be included in the original word. So, if we understand the word “bread” to be multifaceted, then the word “daily” may be a better translation than “supersubstantial”.


Actually, the one we use in the liturgy (the one that has cotidianum/quotidianum in it) is probably isn’t Jerome’s. Jerome is responsible for supersubstantialem, but cotidianum might be the ‘traditional’ rendering that stuck even after the Vulgate definitively supplanted all the earlier Latin versions of the Bible - which to be fair, happened only by the Middle Ages. (Liturgical conservatism and all that.)

I mean, we still say Gloria in excelsis Deo rather than Gloria in altissimis Deo (Vulgate).


It most definitely is Jerome’s.


No, cotidianum/quotidianum was already there in many older Latin versions of Matthew.

(The Vulgate gospels are not fresh translations - they are simply revised versions of older translations. In other words, Jerome did not translate them out of scratch as, say, the OT books, but took older translations of the gospels, compared them with the Greek, and tweaked some of the wording here and there to what he thought was a more accurate rendering. Even then, Jerome didn’t try to make the translations completely consistent with one another: that’s why the Greek word archiereus ‘high priest’ shows up as, say, princeps sacerdotum in Vulgate Matthew and pontifex in Vulgate John - in many cases he kept much of the original wording intact when he saw no point in changing them, even when they render the same Greek word differently.)

What Jerome basically did was tweak the word epiousios in Matthew as supersubstantialem (he was probably influenced by Christian grammarian Gaius Marius Victorinus Afer here; a couple or so decades before Jerome even began revising and translating biblical books, Victorinus already complained how Latin renderings of epiousios such as hodiernum did not quite fully reflect the spiritual meaning of the word - that the bread spoken of is the Eucharist, the body of Christ - and according rendered it as consubstantialem - because Jesus is ‘consubstantial’ with the Father) but preserve the instance of epiousios in Luke 11:3.


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