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Posts Tagged ‘changes to the bible’

“and Lead us not into temptation”

According to “The Independent” on Dec 8, 2017,

“Pope Francis has called for a change to the wording of the Lord’s Prayer, as the existing translation implies God ‘induces temptation’… The prayer, also known as Our Father, asks God to ‘lead us not into temptation’.”

“The 80-year-old also highlighted that the Catholic Church in France had already adapted the prayer, and uses the phrase ‘do not let us fall into temptation’ instead.”

I want to start by clarifying that I do not think there is anything malicious or necessarily heretical about the Pope’s call for change here. However, I do think there is clear error, so I will make the case.

“The reasoning is that ‘It is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation.’”

This is just a mis-use of the word “translation”.  (I hope that, assuming the Pope was speaking in Latin, that this English translation isn’t erroneous).  Rather than trying to change the translation, he should be engaging in the issues of interpretation (more on that later).

Translation is the process of one language to another. In this case, Greek to English (in the case of the Catholic Church, it is often Greek to Latin to English.

The Greek (with English letters) is:

Kai eisphero ego me eis peirasmos

Kai – a conjunction – “And”

eisphero – (bring, take (like a message, a sacrifice, ) (see Luke 5:18, I Tim 6:7))

ego – me

me – not

eis – spatially in reference to – (before, into, onto, next, resulting in, among, about, etc)

peirasmos – “to be put to the test/tribulation”

I know that just like English, just the meaning of each Greek word is not always the right answer for a thought or phrase, but in this case, apparently is pretty good. So, all that being said,

“And lead us not into temptation…” (Matt 5:13)

is a perfectly sound “translation” – in fact, it is an excellent translation! If anything was a potential change in the translation, you might could change it to “and lead us not into trials/tests”… but that isn’t what he wants to change.

The Pope is not troubled by the translation. He is troubled by an interpretation question. One does not change what the Bible says because one is troubled by a question of interpretation – one teaches through it!

What does it say?

It clearly says something close to “and lead us not into temptation.”  If the translation is sound, what is the Pope concerned about?  From his further thoughts it is clear that he is troubled by the interpretation.

“Interpretation” is what something means.

So, if the Pope is uncomfortable with the fact that it sounds like God Himself is tempting someone to sin (which is not in the character of God, as indicated in James 1:13

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”

So, is there any way to understand the words in the prayer other than God tempting people? Can someone lead someone into temptation without tempting them? Of course they can.

Consider that perhaps the exact experience that Jesus had in mind was His own recent experience (Matt 4, which starts with “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

Jesus had been led into a situation in which He was tempted. Did the Father tempt Him? No. Did Jesus want to experience the situation again or want His followers to ask to avoid those kind of situations? I think it is likely so.

One interpreter of this passage referenced the idea of a mother taking their children through the checkout line with all of the candy having already told them that they could not have candy. She is putting them in a situation in which they will be tempted. She is not tempted them, though.

Jesus is encouraging us to ask for the extra grace from God to allow them to avoid those type of tough tests – the tests of being led into situations of temptation.

This situation, in which Pope Francis is seeking to change a translation because he thinks the passage needs further interpretation, is just an error. Of course, like the rest of us, he is just a man and “to err is human” (that is also not in the Bible by the way, but a quote from Alexander Pope – no relation to Pope Francis).

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