If you find yourself surrounded by temptation, don’t blame it on God. That was the message from the Pope as he called for the Lord’s Prayer to be altered to shift responsibility for our sins and vices on to the Devil.
The Lord’s Prayer is considered by the Catholic church to be a perfect summary of the gospels. The Pope said that the line asking God to “lead us not into temptation,” or in Italian, non indurci in tentazione, had been translated badly, however.
It should read “don’t let me fall into temptation,” he said, as this would reflect the belief that a sinner finds their own way to temptation. The Pope said: “It’s not a good translation … 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.” He added: “It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.”
The remarks give a papal seal of approval to moves already under way in the church to change the line in the prayer. Last month French bishops switched from “Do not submit us to temptation” to “Do not let us enter into temptation.” The Pope said approvingly: “The French have changed the text [to], ‘Don’t let me fall into temptation.’”
The dispute revolves around how to translate eisenenkês, the Greek used in the original New Testament, Massimo Grilli, a professor at the Gregorian university in Rome, said. “The Greek verb eisphèro means ‘take inside,’ and the form used in the prayer, eisenenkês, literally means ‘Don’t take us inside,’” he said. “But that’s a very literal translation that must be interpreted.”
The New Testament was written in contemporary Greek by a number of authors between AD50 and AD100, before all 27 books were brought together in AD398, he said. A Latin translation of the Bible by St Jerome in the 4th century, which was adopted by the Catholic church, keeps the literal meaning, using the Latin inducere which means “bring in.”
Professor Grilli said that the translation was being questioned throughout the Catholic church, with the Spanish having switched to “Don’t let us fall into temptation” and the Italians to “Don’t abandon us to temptation.” Various English translations of the phrase in Luke xi, 1-4 and Matthew vi, 9-13 read: “Do not bring us to the time of trial” and “Keep us from being tempted.”
The Lord’s Prayer has been updated a number of times. The Church of England’s website contains the traditional version and a contemporary one. The modern version asks God to “forgive us our sins” rather than “trespasses,” starts with “Our Father in Heaven” rather than “Our Father who art in Heaven,” and finishes with “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,” rather than “Thine is the kingdom.”
Bible scholars announced last month that they had produced the most accurate edition of the New Testament in its original Greek after eliminating almost two millennia of typos. The most infamous error was made by Robert Barker in 1631. He had printed the first edition of the King James Bible in 1611 but in a later edition he left out “not” in the seventh commandment, which was printed as: “Thou shalt commit adultery.”
© The Times