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.