German Bible Scholar Defends “And lead us not into temptation”

Professor Dr. Thomas Söding of the University of Bochum holds that line in the Lord’s Prayer translated as “And lead us not into temptation” should not be changed.

In an interview with DomRadio of the Archdiocese of Cologne, Söding said that this is the correct translation of the Greek text of the New Testament – and “if one wishes to change something here, one should fundamentally change something in the entire Jesus tradition of the New Testament.”

He says that the change recently approved by the French Catholic bishops, “let us not fall into temptation,” is not a translation but a paraphrase. The previous French translation, “subjugate us not to temptation,” gave “a brutal image of God,” but the most recent change is “too much of a good thing.”

Referring to the prayer of Jesus, “not my will, but yours be done,” Söding understands the meaning of the difficult line in the Lord’s Prayer to be this:

When one prayers “Lead us not into temptation,” … this is what is expressed: If you were to lead me into temptation, I would not endure. But thank you that you do not do this, and I express this to you. …

He said further,

I confess that I myself am weak. But I entrust myself to God, that he preserve me from temptation. Thus this petition is not an expression of anxiety, but rather of trust.

Söding noted also that in Germany the traditional wording is used also by Protestant and Orthodox churches, which is of ecumenical significance.

One comment

  1. I always thought the petition ask that the prayers be spared the great Tribulation that was predicted for the end times. Subject us not to the Trial. Maybe my biblical sense is out of whack, or simply outdated.

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