Pope Francis Wishes to Change the “Our Father”

From La Repubblica:

The Italian text of the most well-known prayer, the “Our Father,” could soon change. Pope Francis himself has stated his opinion: “God who leads us into temptation is not a good translation. Even the French have changed the text with a translation that says “Do not let me fall into temptation.” It is I who fall, it is not he who throws me into temptation to seen then how I fell. A father does not do this, a father helps us get up immediately. The pontiff explained this in the seventh installment of the program “Our Father,” led by Don Marco Pozza, broadcast on Tv2000.

Read the rest here.

The Nova Vulgata has “et ne nos inducas in tentationem,” reflected in the English “And lead us not into temptation. The alternative translation of the English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC) of 1988 has “Save us from the time of trial.”

The USCCB’s New American Bible translates Matthew 6:13 and Luke 11:4 as “and do not subject us to the final test.”

 

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20 comments

  1. One reason I am not a unequivocal fan of the 1998 rendering. Leave the traditional English vernacular Our Father the heck alone. (For those who insisted on not correcting the translation of the Gloria and Sanctus because it would have disturbed the PIPs, yet wanted to fuss with the Our Father, something Catholic faithful had been praying that way for far longer and far more often in the domestic church, it sapped deeply at credibility in the name of preservation of royalties….) Fussing with it betrays a profound lack of grasp of larger context.

    Meanwhile:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuYWvbOQWFo

  2. Many of our non-catholic sisters and brothers have been using a modern-language version of the Our Father (ELLC) for years now. Didn’t take them long to get used to it when they changed in the 1970s.

    1. By the same token, what’s the evidence that they prayed their prior versions of the Lord’s Prayer for as long and frequently as Catholic faithful had/have typically prayed the Our Father over many generations, given the aversion to the role of too much rote prayer in many Protestant traditions?

      I come at this from giggles. The giggles and eye-rolling I remember circa 1970ish in CCD. When those of us how had mastered a laundry list of prayers for First Communion before that time were told we’d have to master modernization of most of those prayers for Confirmation. Sure, for the prayers that we didn’t pray that much, we kids did our paces. But for the prayers we kids deeply learned, the only thing that really took was changing “Holy Ghost” to “Holy Spirit.” (You could tell after Confirmation when we did group prayers in subsequent years of CCD.) Some did better than others in getting with The Program. Otherwise, it came across more as another example of institutional arbitrariness (an admittedly adult construction of what we discussed at the time). The teachers had to humor our skepticism somewhat. I am not a fan of old-style prayer language for its own sake. I would characterize the Our Father at Mass as something the Catholic faithful bring to the table; before Vatican II, it wasn’t something they brought to the table at Mass itself, but once invited, what was brought to the table was something deep and in the bones. Respect that. That to my mind is much more deeply honoring the purposes of the liturgical reform than fussing with the text for less important values in that context. In any event, such fussing profoundly undercuts the credibility of arguments against changing other congregations parts of the Ordo based on don’t-burden-the-congregation-with-changes.

  3. Not as big of a deal, but I have wondered why we still say ‘thee, thou and thy’. No one talks like that anymore, but that ship has sailed.

    1. By the same token, for example, no one says “we are question” or “we are creed” (see Tom Conry’s “Anthem”) in regular conversation either, nor do we all speak consistently in a manner utterly purged of any trace of non-inclusive language (even folks on National Public Radio don’t – both female and male). And haven’t even had a history of doing it.

      1. In the end, all of the proffered solutions to the concern about what might be called a “trickster God” do not themselves effectively rule out such a problematic interpretation either. This is the reason why I think the concern about this particularl line in Our Father is not well thought-through; it assumes the solutions are in fact solutions when they ain’t necessarily so.

        To my child’s mind, the only word in the traditional Our Father that took some digesting once I was reading it critically (in part courtesy of all that foreign language instruction I started receiving at age 9) was … the initial “But” of the last sentence. Thinking in terms of logical current usage, I thought “that means “And” or “Yet” , not “But” the way we usually mean it. But (pun intended) it wasn’t a *problem* for my faith. It was a curiosity. Among myriad curiosities – current usage has even more of them than non-current usage. My late father regularly commented on them (it was a feature of dinner and other conversation in our family for decades for my parents to start a conversation about curious usages encountered). Then again, my engineer father once hired an engineer whose cover letter referred to the candidate’s “epitome” (resume/CV) on the hunch that this was someone who would have refined communication skills, which my father considered fundamental for engineers to communicate with others; my father’s hunch proved correct. Engineers may breed lawyers and editors (the most common parental profession of my fellow law students 30+ years ago, based on group volunteering answers, was – engineer); if you’ve grown up arguing with an engineer, you may understand why.

  4. I’m not sure, Francis: Read “Job” and God lets Satan to hurt Job, and Christ be tempted by Satan in his 40 days of fasting…

    1. Dr. Garres,

      Yesterday in class we were reading Augustine’s Anti-Pelagian writings, and (with my understanding) Augustine seemed to suggest that sometimes God leaves for a time in order that we might realize how much we need God.

      I found that interesting, and I’m still contemplating what this really means.

  5. There is value in a certain otherworldly quality to sacral language. I may not use archaisms in casual language (well, I do, but never mind that!), but I pray I never forget:

    “My soul doth magnify the Lord * and my spirit hath rejoiced in God, my Savior,
    For He hath regarded * the lowliness of His handmaiden.
    For behold, from henceforth * all generations shall call me blessed.
    For He that is mighty hath magnified me, * and Holy is His Name.”

    And so on. I couldn’t recite it to save my life, but I can chant it any time you please.

  6. The editors of the NAB, and the New Jerome commentary on Matthew by Benedict Viviano OP, both interpret the phrase translated in English as “Lead us not into temptation” to mean, Do not put us to the final test. Viviano proposes as an alternative possibility, “do not let us fall when we are tempted.”

    The Luke commentary in the New Jerome, by Robert J Karris OFM, is silent on alternative meanings to temptation, but notes that “In Luke, temptation does not have a positive outcome, e.g. strengthening of character. Temptation is always bad. Disciples pray that their ever-loving God will preserve them from apostacy from the Christian Way”. He then points us, pretty cogently I think, to the Agony in the Garden passage:

    The Agony in the Garden.
    39
    Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.
    40
    When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.”
    41
    After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed,a
    42
    saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”
    43
    And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.
    44
    He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.
    45
    When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief.
    46
    He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”

  7. In his book “Jesus of Nazareth”, volume I, Pope Benedict offers an explanation concluding that “the object of the petition is to ask God not to mete out more than we can bear, not to slip from his hands.” His explanation seems sensible to me.

  8. This story made the BBC News yesterday and was on the radio, TV and online. A link is here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-42279427

    And in other news, the Emeritus Bishop of Portsmouth had apologised for the 2011 translation via the letters page of The Tablet. His final paragraph says “If, as I understand it, Magnum Principium gives the Bishops’ Conference the opportunity to think again, and revisit the 1998 Missal, then such a move would have my full support and encouragement. The matter is urgent; things will not get better and we need to think again.”

    Hopefully change is coming!

  9. Yes, it’s been done already: “Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.” It’s in the Episcopal 1979 Book of Common Prayer, Lutheran liturgies, and others. Not a new issue or solution.

  10. In translating “lead us not into temptation,” a translator has two challenges: to capture the meaning of the original (which itself a translation of an oral tradition), and making it work as a modern liturgical text – at the same time. The early half of the first century Palestine was a time of violent upheaval and the Jesus Movement was a lot more apocalyptic-minded than we are. It is a social world that some contemporary countries share but those of us, fortunate enough to be in more comfortable circumstances, do not empathise. So we snuggle with the less threatening “temptations”, or the ambiguous “test” in the recently replaced Latin rite missal.
    There is a very good translation which is the work of an ecumenical collaboration: “save us from the time of trial” (as mentioned above as chosen for the 1979 BCP). It is worth adopting because many mainstream Churches are using it. It captures the anxiety of an upside-down world. It can apply more generally to our other more benign trials, and yet with the strength to remind us of larger human concerns – trials — that need saving from: economic, legal, political, conscience-related, existential.
    However I think there is another translation issue with the “Lord’s Prayer” that deserves greater attention. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Here, Jerome’s Latin got it right: Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. For whatever reasons Cranmer (BCP) or the modern ecumenical translators (ELLC) decide to dig into the Lucan version with the word “sin” and put it into the liturgical prayer – they rob us of a rich Semitic notion of “sin” as a justice-ethics problem, and diminish it into just a moral problem.
    Imagine this: in order to be forgiven, you need to cancel every other persons’ debts to you: it undoes the economic system, it disintegrates our manipulative conniving.
    Honesty, I won’t be able to say this petition in integrity, but I won’t want it dumbed down either.

  11. Bad idea (as usual). As the judicious Fr. Hunwicke comments:
    “The Greek original and its Latin version do not mean what PF wants them to mean. Anybody who claims that they do, is either ignorant or dishonest. PF’s proposal is not a translation, but an alteration. But I’ll return, D v, to that tomorrow. (I’m afraid it has occurred to me that all this might be a ploy to provoke yet another disagreement with Cardinal Sarah, with the intention of finally getting rid of him. After all, PF is suggesting that a change be made in liturgical texts which involves eliminating the actual words of what the Greek and Latin and Syrian bibles say the Lord actually said, and replacing them with what a twenty-first century Roman Bishop says he prefers. It is Cardinal Sarah’s job, quite frankly, to resist the imposition of a gratuitous mistranslation of an authorised original.)”

  12. FWIW, Bible Hub ( at http://biblehub.com/luke/11-4.htm ) lists something like 25 translations of that verse from 25 different versions of the Bible, of which about 22 have “Lead us not into temptation” or its equivalent “Bring us not into temptation,” as the translation of Luke 11:4. That would seem to indicate that Pope Francis’s understanding faces stiff opposition from biblical scholars across a very wide theological spectrum indeed. The evangelical Pulpit Commentary at the bottom of the page suggests, “The simple meaning of this concluding petition in St. Luke’s report of the prayer is, ‘Thou knowest, Father, how weak I am; let me not be tempted above that I am able.'” This corresponds to Pope Benedict’s interpretation as quoted by Peter Haydon above: “the object of the petition is to ask God not to mete out more than we can bear, not to slip from his hands.” In brief, the English speaking Christian world is at least in agreement on this, that “lead us not into temptation,” is a perfectly adequate translation whose meaning hardly brings the justice of God into question.

  13. In the Mass in Catalan that is celebrated every day where I live (which I believe was translated by the Abbey of Montserrat after the Council, though for all I know the vernacular Lord’s prayer is older) already has what the Pope says he wants:

    “I no permeteu que nosaltres caiguem a la temptació.”

    Literally: “Don’t permit that we fall into temptation.”

    http://www.conferenciaepiscopal.nom.es/pastoral/turismo/MISAS/OrdinarioCatalan.pdf

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