So I’ve been asked a lot about this lately – especially because of my own attempts at understanding the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic – and my initial reactions were mixed. However, after my mind settled I did realize that this suggestion had genuine merit.
For those of you who are only casually familiar with what this is all about, Pope Francis made a suggestion about the traditional rendition of the Lord’s Prayer, specifically the phrase “lead us not into temptation.”
His argument was that, “It is not He that pushes me into temptation and then sees how I fall. […] A father does not do this. A father quickly helps those who are provoked into Satan’s temptation.”
His proposed solution was to alter the translation to, “Do not let us enter into temptation.”
The Language in Question:
The Greek, on its face, doesn’t seem to quite support this, using the word εἰσφέρω, which is usually rendered as “to lead into” or “bring into.” However, it is this word that is often used to translate the Aramaic verb עלל /’alal/ – and it is this verb that we see used in Aramaic renderings of the Lord’s Prayer (the Peshitta, the Old Syriac, and the Christian Palestinian Aramaic New Testament), as well as other similar petitions in other Jewish prayers.
Where it can mean and is extensively used to express “to bring in” the primary meaning of עלל, is “to enter.”
Because of this עלל is the verb I chose for my own reconstruction of the Lord’s Prayer, however even in doing so, the form I chose was assuming that the Greek had chosen the appropriate nuance.
“Do not let us enter into temptation” in my own opinion, is – when the original languages are taken into consideration – an appropriate translation of the Lord’s Prayer, and could quite possibly express the original intention of the petition.
One thought on “Pope Francis Suggests “Change” to Lord’s Prayer”
I think there are two possibilities:
1. Or you give the meaning “temptation” to the word “peirasmos”. Then it is right (IMHO) to say that only the devil (or more generally what comes from mankind and not from God) is tempting us. See James 1:13-14 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” In this context, an appropriate traduction could be: do not let us enter into temptation.
2. Or the meaning of “peirasmos” is “test”. From the Bible we known that God tests frequently his people. Belief must show some firmness. But people fear being tested by God. Even Jesus was tested in the desert: Matthew 4:1-2 “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (peirasthènai) of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.” Satan asks three questions to test Jesus. But Jesus’ answer is he only worships God. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” To worship what humans want, would be a major and fatal failure.
So, if one understand the word peirasmos as ‘test’, one readily can translate the verse as: lead us not into temptation (= do not test us).
In both interpretations, the Christians wanted to be freed from evil (“and deliver us from evil”).