ASK FATHER: Does Pope Francis really want to change the Lord’s Prayer?

First, if liturgical translations frustrate you, just use Latin.  It is, after all, the official language of worship of the Roman Catholic Church.

I have had a couple dozen panicked or confused emails, and a few more that are simply curious, about the Pope remarks about (… you knew that was coming…) the translation of the Our Father.

Context: Recently the French changed their wording.  It was pretty bad, frankly. That probably got the Pope thinking in translation terms about the Lord’s Prayer.

So the Pope opines that the Our Father says something that sounds in Italian like God the Father leads us into temptation, which doesn’t right.  In English we have something that sounds a little like that: “lead us not into temptation”.

The Pope says something. People go bananas. Huzzah! Another chance for us to find out what the prayer really says! right?

Matthew 6:9–6:13 and Luke 11:2–11:4 are our GREEK biblical texts which are the foundation of the Our Father as we say it in Latin and in English. The Greek of the line in question, from Matthew, is “καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν”. Frankly, the Greek is tricky. Read in a straight forward way, it says what we say when we say the Lord’s Prayer. So, what does it really say?

One of the last sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this petition.

VI. “And Lead Us not into Temptation”

2846 This petition goes to the root of the preceding one, for our sins result from our consenting to temptation; we therefore ask our Father not to “lead” us into temptation. It is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word: the Greek means both “do not allow us to enter into temptation” and “do not let us yield to temptation.” “God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one”; on the contrary, he wants to set us free from evil. We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin. We are engaged in the battle “between flesh and spirit”; this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength.

2847 The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a “delight to the eyes” and desirable, when in reality its fruit is death. God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings…. There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us.

2848 “Lead us not into temptation” implies a decision of the heart: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also…. No one can serve two masters.” “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” In this assent to the Holy Spirit the Father gives us strength. “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, so that you may be able to endure it.” [Hence, we need graces. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to say “No!”… provided that we choose to suffer in the short term, of course.]

2849 Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony. In this petition to our heavenly Father, Christ unites us to his battle and his agony. He urges us to vigilance of the heart in communion with his own. Vigilance is “custody of the heart,” and Jesus prayed for us to the Father: “Keep them in your name.” The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch. Finally, this petition takes on all its dramatic meaning in relation to the last temptation of our earthly battle; it asks for final perseverance. “Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake.”

Could the English version which is traditional in deeply rooted in our identity a “bad” translation? No. It isn’t. However, it is incumbent on the Church’s pastors to teach people what it means, so that when they pray it, they get it.

So, there’s nothing wrong with the Pope bringing up the point. It gives us an opportunity to go beyond the shallow and our into the deep to fish up abundant meaning fishes.

Also, there is a fascinating little volume with the commentaries of three great ancient writers, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen on the Lord’s Prayer. Amazing stuff. US HERE – UK HERE

Also, St. Augustine eloquently explains the Lord’s Prayer. Among other things, he says:

Thou dost not see the devil, but the object that engages you you see. Get the mastery then over that of which you are sensible within. Fight valiantly, for He who has regenerated you is your Judge; He has arranged the lists, He is making ready the crown. But because you will without doubt be conquered, if you have not Him to aid you, if He abandon you: therefore do you say in the prayer, Lead us not into temptation. The Judge’s wrath has given over some to their own lusts; and the Apostle says, God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts. How did He give them up? Not by forcing, but by forsaking them.

If we do not pray and engage with God as suitors and dependents, we fall out of contact with Him and we grow cooler and cooler until our hearts freeze and harden. God will not force us. He will respect the “foresaken” nature of our relationship. So, it is a good idea – it is CHRIST’s idea, and so it’s good – to pray using that petition about temptations. No what you are praying.

Finally, the teachings of the Lord, while at times on the surface are pretty straight forward, are nevertheless offerings from the divine, eternal Logos. They contain unfathomable depths and mysteries.

UPDATE:

Catholic World Report has a good article about this issue with the Pope – HERE

Some sharing options...

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Patristiblogging, WDTPRS and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to ASK FATHER: Does Pope Francis really want to change the Lord’s Prayer?

  1. JBermender says:

    Regarding the CCC, I think it is easier to translate the Greek word than it lets on but it is more difficult for modern people to properly understand what it means. There is another article on this topic at CWR analyzing the Greek text.

  2. jazzclass says:

    WDTPRS: What Does the Pope Really Say?

  3. The Masked Chicken says:

    This is so frustrating. I just spent two hours writing a comment on why, “lead us not into temptation,” is perfectly fine, if one reads, “lead,” as related to God’s passive will. I had biblical citations and a study of the Greek, since similar wording occurs in the Garden of Gethsemane and a defense of the idea that God can lead us into temptation, but cannot tempt us. The distinction, linguistically, is subtle, but crucial. Then, I went to copy the Pope’s comment, to show that he has misunderstood the active vs. passive sense involved in the phrase in his attempting to offer a correction and, poof, when I came back to the comment box, everything was gone :( sniff. I saved my work in memory, but I did not think to save it to an external word processor because I was in another tab.

    This may be a hiccup in Safari for the iPad, since it has happened, before (thus, I was putting the comment into memory after every few paragraphs), but this is really frustrating. I am going through a really bad time right now, so much so, that I have stopped making comments any place on the Internet. I am, basically, only answering e-mails, at this point, but I, sincerely, thought I had something to offer in my comment about this, so, I took a chance that something I said might be useful and, then, this happens. I don’t have time to start, again.

    I do hope that either Apple or WordPress (probably, Apple) gets this bug fixed. This passage of the Our Father is subtle and there is a lot of theology packed into it. The French translation was bad, but the English is not and it is rich with meaning.

    The Chicken

  4. neaniskos says:

    I agree with JBermender. The exact theological meaning of the phrase might need explication to be properly understood, but the translation of ?????????? is pretty straightforward. ?????????? comes from ???????, which any student of Greek can tell you means to “carry in” (??? = into; ???? = carry, cf. Lat. fero). So the literal translation is simple – “Do not carry us into trial/temptation.”

    The same is true for Latin. “Inducas” is just in + ducere. Hence “Do not lead us into temptation.”

  5. neaniskos says:

    Oops, doesn’t look like the comments can render Greek Unicode. Oh well! :P

  6. Pingback: Should the Sixth Petition of the Our Father Be Translated as “Do not Let Us Fall?” | Jason Bermender

  7. Justalurkingfool says:

    Chicken,
    In your trials, could you please pray that God’s will be done for this:

    My wife and her long time lover are divorcing, to the best of my knowledge.
    Enough said.

    Karl

  8. chantgirl says:

    Chicken- Prayers for you. 2017 has been a difficult year for many.

    As to the translation, I am not educated enough to have an opinion. However, the reaction to this news story is pretty revealing. We are seeing a failed papacy. Even if Pope Francis were right on this, he has so lost the trust of the rank-and-file orthodox Catholics that people are reacting from a position of suspicion.

    I am waiting for Fr. Hunwicke’s explanation of the translation. At this point, though, I admit that I am uneasy about any new translations coming from the current regime.

  9. Pingback: MONDAY CATHOLICA EDITION – Big Pulpit

  10. hwriggles4 says:

    Fr. Z might link to this:

    Msgr. Charles Pope, a good priest from the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, has an interesting article on “Why I Oppose Changing the Translation of the Lord’s Prayer ” at the National Catholic Register. It’s worth a look.

  11. Pharisee says:

    Yup, I was jus’ thinkin’ that t’other day: “What I really need now is a new translation of the fundamental prayer of Christianity.” Because I am too stupid to understand archaic English. E’en tho’ I have spoken English since … I could speak.

    I wonder if most everyone from St. Pius X onwards is infected with a kind of itchy-handedness to _change_ that which is supposed to point to the _eternal_?

    One would think that trying to say out of Hell by working hard to please the Eternal Omnipotent God would keep us occupied more usefully, and sufficiently.

    St Pius XI, ora pro nobis! In a biography of St. Pio of Pietrelcina I read, Herman Goering is reported as saying that he was the only man he ever met that he was afraid of.

    AFAIK, he changed nowt, but he did do this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_Christ_the_King

  12. mharden says:

    This explanation from Pope Benedict XVI (in his “Jesus of Nazareth”) is excellent.

    “Now we are in a position to interpret the sixth petition of the Our Father in a more practical way. When we pray it, we are saying to God: “I know that I need trial so that my nature can be purified. When you decide to send me these trials, when you give evil some room to manoeuvre, as you did with Job, then please don’t overestimate my capacity. Don’t set too wide the boundaries within which I may be tempted, and be close to me with your protecting hand when it becomes too much for me.” It was in this sense that Saint Cyprian interpreted the sixth petition. He says that when we pray, “And lead us not into temptation,” we are expressing our awareness “that the enemy can do nothing against us unless God has allowed it beforehand, so that our fear, our devotion and our worship may be directed to God–because the Evil One is not permitted to do anything unless he is given authorization” (De dominica oratione 25; CSEL III, 25, p. 285f.).”

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

    US HERE – UK HERE

  13. msc says:

    I know I’m very late joining this discussion, but recent elaborations on his comments by Francis have prompted me to get involved. I am puzzled that he seems to be ignoring the Greek and the fact that the second person verb is absolutely clear. The petitioner is addressing God and it is not some vague “let us not fall into”. There is some ambiguity in peirasmon only in the sense that few words have one very narrow meaning. Yes, it can mean “temptation”, but that it can also mean “trial” or “test” and the phrase can easily mean “do not test us” or “make trial of us.”

  14. Kent Wendler says:

    For a more linguistic approach you can see Why We Shouldn’t Change the Lord’s Prayer by Anthony Esolen at First Things.

  15. Justalurkingfool says:

    Chicken, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

    I posted this over at The Tenth Crusade Blog.

    It is what I have faced and will face until death, or our long wounded marriage is healed:

    You know that I was long ago divorced against my will(1990) and defended our marriage twice before Catholic Marriage Tribunals, successfully. I am faithful to our vows(1980). But, I have a pulse and sometime about 2 or 3 minutes after my pulse stops, permanently, about then I will stop being attracted to woman. Those are the facts of life. I am 63, not dead….yet!

    Anyway, 3 ish years ago I interviewed a Jamaican professional woman, quite accomplished, self-made wealth(not Trump wealth, but worth ALOT more than me), well educated, soft spoken and beautiful(if that is PC, for a “married but single?” man to admit/state/not be blind to). And, when I inquired about her marital status, as part of our interview, she told me that she was single and was just 3 or 4 years younger than me(remember that pulse). She also told me that she was an old-fashioned Catholic girl. This was why she was still single in her middle fifties. The men who crossed her path were more interested in her money and in
    the “manly” pursuit of “conquest”, than they were in her as the sparkling diamond among other gems, that she was, and I presume still is.

    After she answered my biographical inquiry, being a true professional, confident woman, she noticed that I wore no ring and asked me, quite logically, what my life’s story was. Of course, antecedent to that question my mind was already “in flux” with God for having allowed me to be in such a position in the presence of a woman, so available, such a “catch” as men in my day might often have said(and which I certainly thought), while I am a living “stop” sign. So, I told her my own story and our interview changed direction as she kept asking things until she was convinced that I was who I really am. Our exchanges, in conversation, were not clinical, however. They were warm, friendly, “interested” and we both got to know each other’s character, as two “single” people might do when they cross paths and “hit it off”, as we did. But, her questions led her to the obvious and she was, sincerely, moved when it was finally established that I was abandoned at 35, losing everything and losing complete custody of our five children who were/are my entire world, yet remained faithful to our vows(was now/then 60 yrs old) and that my wife was the only woman that I have ever been with, in the biblical sense, and was a virgin, at 25, when we met. It was important to her that I worked at maintaining relationships with our children, now all adults with children of their own. We kept talking, the interview eventually was completed, and our attraction to each other was plain to both of us. I never asked her, but, she must have known that we had to be “ships passing in the night”. But, it was so beautiful, so comfortable and I was so “at home” with her, but I knew we had to bring things to a conclusion. Nearly two hours had passed, which seemed like 15 minutes to us both. So, crazy old man that I have always been, I said to her that I, really, needed to say something to her.

    Then, looking into her eyes, which were sparkling with moisture, as I know mine were, I gently told her that, “If I were a free man, I would ask you out in a heartbeat.” To which she replied, and in doing so nearly brought me to tears because I knew that I was face to face with “the real thing”, an old-fashioned Catholic girl, in the very, very truest sense, as evidenced by her life choices until then and by the choice she made when she replied to my admission, “If you were free, my answer would be yes, immediately. But, you are not.”

    As we said goodbye, we hugged and held each other for about a minute. Then, as we both knew was necessary, I watched her leave as she walked out of my life.

    I hope Mr. Right has come into her life, has swept her off her feet and is loving her, as she deserves(on many levels) and realizes just how blessed that he is!

    God, did not lead us into temptation. He created us. Each of us. He knows us better than we do. He allowed us to meet, knowing, exactly what would happen. But, none of it was predestined. She needed to see that there are men who are worth the wait. Who are faithful.
    Who live their commitments. But, who are very human and sometimes are even willing to admit it. And I needed to see such a woman as she. Just as human as I am. Vulnerable, but, committed to how she was raised, as a Catholic; faithful and certainly worth the wait.

    Yes, there are tears in my eyes, right now.

    May God’s will be done, in all of our lives.

    And may He deliver us from evil.

    Karl

  16. The Masked Chicken says:

    I thought I would give this one more try in a text editor and then cut and paste to the comments.

    First of all, one might be tempted (no pun intended) to suspect that the word, “lead,” might have a different meaning in the Medieval/Renaissance English used in the KJV, but it does not. The word means, essentially, what it means in modern English.

    So, let us, first, consider the passage in question, Matthew 6:11-13, in context:

    Give us this day our daily bread.
    And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
    And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

    This is the, “conjunction,” part of the Our Father:

    Give us X and Y and Z, but not W

    There are seven petitions in the Our Father: the first three are addressed to God by way of reverence and asks God to condescend to us, to come down to earth, as it were, while the last three petitions are addressed to God by way of supplication and asks God to elevate us up to Heaven in purity of heart.

    In the middle – Give us this day our daily (supernumerary) bread – stands the Eucharist, which unites God, the subject of the first three petitions and man, the subject of the last three petitions, in the person of the God-man, Jesus Christ, who is the Eucharist, the bridge between Heaven and Earth. Thus, the Our Father is a type of hinged prayer with the Eucharist being the hinge pin. It asks that God Kingdom come down to man that man might go up to the Kingdom.

    Matthew 6:13 is in the second half of the prayer and is, primarily concerned with man being able to ascend to God and, therefore, it petitions for those things necessary to meet God face-to-face: a forgiven and pure heart.

    The phrase:

    And lead us not into temptation

    is rendered from the Greek (I will transliterate so as not to have look up a lot of Unicode):

    kai eispher? h?mas m? eis peirasmos

    and the troublesome word is eispher?. It translates as either: to bring into (in or to) or to lead into. It is derived from eis and pher?, which means to carry into or bear into.

    When we ask God to lead us not into temptation, does this imply that God is tempting us? Of course not. That would be contrary to the Divine will. Now, it is interesting that the word, “tempts,” occurs in only on passage in all of Scripture: James 1:13-14:

    Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one;
    but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
    Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.

    The word for, ” tempts” is derived from the same root as peirasmos (temptation), here, peiraz?, the verb form.

    There is a difference, however, between being tempted which is a verb and implies both a subject (someone doing the tempting) and an active intent vs. the noun, temptation, which is a term of reference – referring to the general idea of the possibility of being tempted. It refers to a thing, not the action of the thing.

    If God cannot tempt, can He, nevertheless, put us or lead us or allow us to be led into a situation where we will be tempted? The answer is, unequivocally, yes, in virtue of His passive or permissive will. Consider the following testimony of Scripture:

    1. Matt 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.[tote j?sous anag? hypo pneuma eis er?mos peiraz? hypo diablos]

    2. Sirach 2:1-6 My son, if you come forward to serve the Lord,prepare yourself for temptation.
    Set your heart right and be steadfast,
    and do not be hasty in time of calamity.
    Cleave to him and do not depart,
    that you may be honored at the end of your life.
    Accept whatever is brought upon you,
    and in changes that humble you be patient.
    For gold is tested in the fire,
    and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.
    Trust in him, and he will help you;
    make your ways straight, and hope in him.

    3. Sirach 15:11-20 Do not say, “Because of the Lord I left the right way”;
    for he will not do what he hates.
    Do not say, “It was he who led me astray”;
    for he had no need of a sinful man.
    The Lord hates all abominations,
    and they are not loved by those who fear him.
    It was he who created man in the beginning,
    and he left him in the power of his own inclination.
    If you will, you can keep the commandments,
    and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
    He has placed before you fire and water:
    stretch out your hand for whichever you wish.
    Before a man are life and death,
    and whichever he chooses will be given to him.
    For great is the wisdom of the Lord;
    he is mighty in power and sees everything;
    his eyes are on those who fear him,
    and he knows every deed of man.
    He has not commanded any one to be ungodly,
    and he has not given any one permission to sin.

    4. Romans 7:20-23 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
    So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
    For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self,
    but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.

    5. Hebrews 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
    Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called
    Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

    6. Judith 8:25-28 In spite of everything let us give thanks to the Lord our God, who is putting us to the test as he did our forefathers.
    Remember what he did with Abraham, and how he tested Isaac, and what happened to Jacob in Mesopotamia in Syria, while he was keeping the sheep of Laban, his mother’s brother.
    For he has not tried us with fire, as he did them, to search their hearts, nor has he taken revenge upon us; but the Lord scourges those who draw near to him, in order to admonish them.”

    7.Matt 26:41-42 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation [hina m? eiserchomai hina m? eis peirasmos]; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
    Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done.”

    8. Proverbs 17:3 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tries hearts.

    These are enough to see what is going on. Can God lead us into temptation? Well, He did with His own Son, who would never give into temptation, so why should we expect to have an easier time of it?

    Who would not want God to lead them? Passage after passage in the Scriptures talk about men being led by the Spirit, who is God, but it can be frightening to be led by God because He leads us according to His designs and these are in mystery. Sometimes, the road ahead forks and two paths lie before us. By which one will God lead us?

    Did not Jesus ask the Father that if it be possible, if there were another better road, that He be taken down that path rather than drink the cup of crucifixion? Alas, sometimes there is no better road.

    Jesus is perfect, however. What about us? Jesus, in His divine condescension, knowing that the spirit is willing, but the nature is often weak, bids us pray that as God leads us that we be not led into temptation, for we do not know if our strength will be enough when temptation meets us on the road.

    However, just as Jesus asked that if it be possible he might escape the cup He was to drink, nevertheless, “not my will [thel?], but thy will [thel?ma] be done.” (Matt 26:39) The word will is used in both places, but thel? is closer to a wish, whereas thel?ma is more definite – a decision. So, the passage is closer to, “not my desire, but your decision be done.”

    Isn’t this exactly what we pray in the Our Father? We say, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, [sou thel?ma ginomai], which is exactly the same words that Jesus prayed in Matt 26:39.

    The sense is clear. We ask, as Jesus did, not to be led into temptation, because, unlike Him, He who could not give into temptation, but, nevertheless, sweat blood in resisting, we might not have the strength. It is true that God will never test us beyond our strength, but He never said that we would not test ourselves beyond our strength. A pure heart cannot be tested beyond its strength, such is the grace of being in union with God, but we poor sinners had better watch out, lest after preaching, we ourselves are lost.

    Yet, we have asked that God’s will be done in the Our Father, so, if lead us He must into temptation for His own reasons, either to reveal our hearts to ourselves (for He already knows them) or to help us gain merit, then, sou thel?ma ginomai – thy will be done.

    So, this passage in the Our Father is nothing less than a summation of the Lord’s own prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is nothing less that what He asked of the apostles and what He asks us to pray every day in our own daily Gardens of Gethsemanes.

    Why would one want to change such a beautiful expression? If some people might think that God tempts them, let them read Scripture and find the real Christ and the real Father. God cannot tempt anyone, but He can use anything, even temptation, for His purposes. He never positively wills that His children suffer temptation, but He is so powerful that He can permit it, passively willing it, for a greater good.

    What kind of a Father must they think God is if they think He could ever tempt us? The need is not to change the prayer, but to change the people! One should not pray to a false God and, yet, that is what one does when one prays the Our Father believing that God would actively tempt that which His Son redeemed at such a price.

    No, do not change the prayer. Change the heart that prays the prayer. As the heart becomes purer, so will the meaning of the words. What saint would ever think that God actively tempts man?

    The Our Father is a prayer made for sinners who hope to be risen out of their sin. It should not be turned into a prayer which rises no higher than misunderstanding. To rephrase the passage to simply say that God doesn’t tempt us misses the whole point of the power of God to bring good from evil. Such a change makes God smaller. If we lead someone into temptation, we sin. Who, but God could lead someone into temptation and, yet, bring good from it?

    The Our Father is written in the language suited for mystery. I would hate to see it changed into the language of a computer manual, for, in the process, one not only losses the mystery, but one losses the man. Indeed, one makes the man into a machine, knowing only the concrete, the physical. Where, then, is the secret, the hidden God?

    The Our Father was created for man by the very Mouth of God and it is a test. We always pray, “Thy will be done.” There is the mystery in which we live by faith, not by sight. It should not be changed as if we are praying, “Thy will be known.” That way lies madness.

    So, lead us not into temptation, but if we happen to get crucified by evil in the process, deliver us, for you did it for You Son, once upon a time.

    The Chicken

  17. The Masked Chicken says:

    Thank you all for you prayers. Some days are harder to live the Our Father than others.

    Karl, you are in my prayers and whose to say, perhaps the suffering endured is a better prayer than our minds can create. God knows what He is about.

    The Chicken

  18. See Holy Father, this just shows again why we need Good translations from the beginning!

    When I first heard that Pope Francis wanted to “change” the Lord’s prayer I admit, my first thought was that he wanted to add something to the end the way the protestants do. Then I found put that he just wanted to make the translation better, so ok. I think we can all admit that we want to make things better, especially ourselves.

    What the pope is suggesting is not radical, though the timing of it seems weird after he changed how liturgical translations are to be done.

    The thing to understand is that, while the Lord’s prayer is in the bible, the bible is not the place we got it from. We got it from Lord Jesus. That’s why what we say during Mass doesn’t always line up with how it is written in scripture. The original prayer was in Aramaic. Then it was translated into Greek and had to done in such a way that the Greeks would understand what was being said without understanding the basic linguistic assumptions behind the Aramaic. So they used a Greek idiom (Correct me if I’m wrong on that) instead of translating word for word.

    The Latin version came from the Greek but not the version that would eventually be used in Greece itself. The Latin version was originally translated from the Greek version that was used in Syria where Greek was an important language.

    The original translations of the Lord’s prayer were for private and liturgical use. The Roman rite itself comes via the Greek translation of the liturgy for use by the Greek speaking people of the Holy Land, not via the actual country of Greece itself. That is why the Roman Liturgy seems to be a hybrid of the Syriac version of St. James and the Greek version of the Alexandrian rite that eventually became the Coptic rite. It is easy to see that at some point in the past, these three liturgies were in fact one liturgy that developed independently in each place. This separation in liturgy probably happened before the first words of the New Testament were ever written.

    Modern scholars are of the opinion that Mark was the first Gospel to actually be written down. However, there is strong evidence that in fact Matthew was the first Gospel to be written. Mark seems to have been originally written in Greek, most likely for the Greeks speakers of Alexandria. Matthew, while very good Greek in places, clearly shows marks of translation. There is a question as to if the current Syriac version of Matthew in the Peshitta is that original version that the Greek was translated from or if the original version of Matthew is lost but the Greek is clearly not the original.

    In my opinion, what probably happened is that Matthew was written in Aramaic and after Mark was written, Matthew was translated into Greek; perhaps using Mark as a guide.

    Of course all of these Gospels come from an original oral Gospel that the Apostles were repeating and repeating and repeating.

    So, if we take a look at the Syriac version of the Lord’s prayer we find two things that are very interesting. The first is that “Lead us not into temptation” is actually “do not bring us to judgement yet” with a feeling like it’s in the near future. Also, “as we forgive those who sin against us” in Syriac uses a verb in the perfect so it sounds more like “as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us”.

    Now, when I pray the Lord’s prayer, I nearly exclusively use the Latin version. I know how the other versions sound and I know the Latin version isn’t a perfect translation but knowing that makes me pay attention to what I’m saying and it gives me occasions to talk about the meaning of the prayer with others. So, sure, I’m fully on board if the Pope wants to tweak the translation to make it better.

  19. Elizabeth R says:

    Chicken, thank you so much for persisting and finally posting your comment. It turned a difficulty (the Pope’s comments) into a blessing of deeper understanding of Our Lord’s Prayer.

    Praying it – and also the Memorare – for you.