Lead us not into temptation
'Lead us not into temptation': why Pope Francis is wrong about the Lord's Prayer
Pope Francis recently announced that he thinks the common English translation of the Lord’s Prayer is mistranslated. He is calling for a new version that doesn’t imply that God might lead people into temptation –that, he says, is the Devil’s job. But aside from changing hundreds of years of tradition in the English version of the prayer, is the Pope’s claim that the English misrepresents God an accurate one?
As usual, the Bible itself doesn’t give us a straight answer. Matthew and Luke each have a slightly different version of the prayer that Jesus instructs his followers to emulate. Luke’s version is much shorter, leaving off the request that God “deliver us from evil”. Both Matthew and Luke include in the prayer a hope that God will not lead them into temptation – and, unfortunately for the Pope, translation is not the issue here.Holy writ: Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer. Wikimedia
A quick and very basic look at the grammar of the prayer shows why. In both versions, the prayer starts by invoking God as Father. The rest of the prayer is addressed to God as Father: “Give us daily bread”; “Forgive our trespasses”; and so on. Some requests are made using a form of a Greek imperative verb, a verb that makes a demand – for instance, in the phrase: “Thy kingdom come” the verb “come” is a demand. The same goes for: “Give us this day our daily bread” and “Forgive us our trespasses”. Each example of the imperative verb addresses its demand to the subject of the prayer, God the Father invoked in the initial line.
The next line, about temptation, is not in the imperative, so in some sense the Pope is correct that this verb is different from the others. However, it is still addressed to the subject of the prayer, to God, as a hope or a wish, being in the “you” form of the subjunctive.
In short, the Pope’s declaration that the sentence be changed to “do not let us fall into temptation” does not accurately reflect Jesus’s words in either Gospel. The Bible is clear that God is implicated in both temptation and its avoidance.
This leaves the Pope, and many Christians, in the uncomfortable position of acknowledging that in Jesus’s time, divine protectors were not always benevolent. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, as the saying goes. But God also, as the Bible illustrates, frequently works alongside malevolent forces to test or tempt human beings to sin.William Blake’s depiction of the misfortunes of Job. Wikimedia
A clear example of God testing one of his worshippers is the case of Job, where God actually makes a bet with Satan. Satan hints to God that Job only worships God because of his prosperity and tells God that if Job had nothing he would curse God’s name. God takes Satan up on the bet and allows him to put Job in increasingly awful conditions with the aim of tempting him to curse God’s name. While Satan brings about Job’s misery, it’s clear that God is the true the architect of Job’s misfortunes.
Another example comes from Genesis, the familiar story of the Binding of Isaac, where God decides to test Abraham by demanding that he sacrifice his only son. While Genesis isn’t clear about why God tests Abraham’s faith in this way, we know that Jews from around the time of Jesus understood the test to be another incident of Satan and God working behind the scenes to prove a point. The Book of Jubilees describes how Prince Mastema, a Satan-like divine figure, prompts God to tempt Abraham into disobedience by asking him the impossible. Abraham resists temptation and obeys God, but this remains another example of God and Satan colluding to tempt humans into sin.The Binding of Isaac. Caravaggio
The New Testament is not immune to this understanding of God – and in fact the Pope’s claim about God’s role in temptation is undermined in the very same Gospels that give us the Lord’s Prayer. Apart from Jesus deliberately telling stories as parables that are difficult to understand in order to mislead people, Matthew’s Gospel also implicates God directly in temptation.
In both Matthew and Luke, Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit “to be tempted by the devil”. Again, even if the Devil is the instrument of temptation, the Gospel is very clear that God plays an executive role in making Jesus face that temptation. It is only two chapters later in Matthew when Jesus urges his followers to pray that they avoid the same situation, praying to God that he not lead them into temptation as Jesus was led.Duccio, The Temptation on the Mount. Wikimedia
There are two major issues with Pope Francis’s call to change the Lord’s Prayer. In attempting to remove any implication that God has some hand in evil, the Pope not only overlooks the many biblical examples where God works with Satan to test his followers and even his own son, but he also ignores the plain meaning of the Gospel text. A more consistent understanding of God actually requires that wording, begging God not to lead a worshipper into temptation.
Jesus spoke Aramaic and Hebrew. The gospels were written in Greek.
So the Pope is taking issue with a translation of a translation of what Jesus allegedly said. That’s problematic in and of itself. But what should be of greater concern is that the padre’s reason for wanting it changed is theologically motivated, not linguistically.
The verses say what they say, not perhaps what we want them to say. If Holy Spirit inspired the recording of these words, then it was there for the translation as well. If it wasn’t, well then, it wasn’t.
You can’t have it both ways.
You say eisegesis, I say exegesis; let’s call the whole thing off!
God probably doesn't exist so it doesn't really matter. It's just better to stick with what the writer(s) most likely meant, not what we want to believe or think an imaginary deity wants to tell us.
Has the Vatican arranged a kickback on the printing of new Bibles?
"Religion is a snare and a racket!"
This might be all wrong. Jesus was led into the wilderness by the H. Spirit. Now people are confronted, inducted into the Spirit Directed Org. If Jesus can be [mis] led. how about jws? very tempting!
...why Pope Francis is wrong about the Lord's Prayer...
Last I heard, prayer is a personal thing, heart to heart with the god of choice. So the rest is nobody's business,
I don’t need God or Satan to lead me into temptation. I can find it all by myself!
You nailed it perfectly.
Lord's prayer is not of divine origin--it is full of flaws--hence made by some thoughtless human being.
Pope used the perfect logic that “I am the one who falls; it’s not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. A father doesn’t do that, a father helps you to get up immediately. It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.”
This is an encouraging move.
At least somebody like Pope is drawing attention to the fact Jesus did not authorize scripture writings, hence it was done arbitrarily by humans writers which would mean they were simply imagining what Jesus would speak/do if he were sent by God. Hence we find statement Jesus could not have made such as John 3:13; wrong replies such as John 9:1-3; faulty logic of using David as a precedent such as Mark 2:25-26 (something not befitting son of God); faulty arguments such as (John 10:30-36 which is quote that was originally addressed to pagan deities) …
Feeling much better, so thought I can help out with this one.
Pope Francis is speaking NOT about changing BIBLE translations but updating the LITURGICAL translations of the "Nostre Patre," the Lord's Prayer as it is translated into the vernacular in English and Italian for the Mass.
Both English and Italian still use very old, outdated vernacular forms of the Nostre Patre in Mass. For instance, the English translation of the Mass was just updated a few years ago, but the Lord's Prayer still reads the same way it did in 1610: "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name..." The Italian version is similarly outdated.
The Liturgy, or official prayer service, exists in Latin in order to have a universal version from which to translate the Liturgy into various languages. Each language group (episcopate) is responsible to translate the Liturgy as it sees fit based on a set of recently set, simple guidelines that allow each episcopal body autonomy.
But one of the demands from that Vatican upon each local body is that modern, critical, and easy-to-use language be chosen for renditions. Traditionalists have not liked this new directive of Pope Francis, and some have found themselves removed from their positions because of it. The Pope even stopped the Vatican from having control over all translation projects and gave this power back to the local bishops and to the critical language scholars just earlier this year.
What the Pope is talking about is that the renditions in English and Italian LITURGY are both old and give the wrong impression to readers of today. They do not even match the new approved Catholic translations of the Bible released in these countries. For instance, where in the Mass the Liturgy still reads in English: "...And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," the Catholic NRSV reads: "And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one."--Matthew 6:13.
This is outstandingly different. The Liturgy makes it sound like God can lead people into test, but in reality this is only because it is olden vernacular. In 1610 it meant the same thing as the NRSV rendering means today. But if we keep the words for tradition's sake, we get a different meaning because today's idiom has changed. That is what the Pope is saying. The Liturgy must and will change for Catholics. Their Bibles already did, 20 to 30 years ago. It is time for the Mass to catch up.
While the current Liturgy is based on the Latin text, it itself is being critically updated with the best critical Greek scholarship. Also, only the English and Italian versions of the Liturgy read in such archaic forms. All other language groups have already changed. Pope Francis is announcing that the Liturgy in these last two areas will be standardized with the rest of the world to match the best critical Greek readings.
As for Bible translations, Catholic Bible versions are translated in the vernacular for each language group independent of the Vatican by scholars from various religious traditions, Christian, Jewish, and sometimes even Muslim and atheist linguists in order to avoid bias. The end result receives approval for Catholic use by the bishops that oversee the language group of their area, especially if that version is to be used for liturgical purposes.