The (so-called?) Lord's Prayer

The (so-called?) Lord's Prayer

Postby inthegobi » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:58 pm

Headline: Vicar of Christ Corrects Grammar of Christ

So. Jesuits are such hard workers. Really. My parish priest is one. And Francis must be the mightiest of them all.

This guy gets up before anybody's crack of dawn, and before the Vatican's coffee hour has come, this beaver of the Church has already chewed through a whole day's work. There he is, in-box empty, out-box full, desk cleared, pencils sharpened, twiddling his highly trained, exceedingly efficient thumbs. Finally he can tackle a *real* task: that awful mess that is...the Lord's Prayer.


Asked about the change on French TV, the Pope said the traditional phrasing is “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,” he said. “A father doesn’t do that, a father helps you to get up immediately. It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.”

You don't say, Holy Father, SJ!

(O1) I suppose the Job author is full of rubbish when he notes that God allows Satan to tempt us; and that all the characters of the story, Job included, assume God is responsible for Job's temptations. Maybe that testament about trials is too, well, *Old* Testament....

(O2) And never mind that the Greek uses a pretty plain active verb, which the Latin follows (ne nos inducas), 'don't you lead us into' temptations or trials.

(O3) And never mind that the sentence is a solid literary construction. It presents us with a stark contrast, or an *a fortiori*: Don't just fail to screw with us, deliver us from our scrapes. The important point is the *second* part; the first clause need not therefore be literally true.

(Recall our wrangle a while back about the story where Jesus, appearing before the frightened disciples after Easter, assures them he's not a ghost. He is not implying ghosts exist, any more than to say 'the guy at the mall is not really Santa', implies there is a real Santa.)

(O4) And never *mind* we sheep do not feel particularly weird about saying it, and haven't made a big fuss about it. In fact, it's my experience that a lot of people, living under injustice, or outright natural evils like floods or droughts, think God needs a lot of reminding not to try them too hard. Inaccurate unsophisticates!

National Public Radio has this extraordinary interview with Fr. Martin of *America* magazine:

SIEGEL: But if Christians don't believe that God should lead us into temptation, implying that it's possible that he might, wouldn't that make God a passive enabler of people who do enter into temptation?

MARTIN: (Laughter) It doesn't make sense that God would lead us into temptation. [Bad analogy of sending a child out into traffic. Temptations, or trials, are a lot more subtle than that.]

SIEGEL: (Laughter)

Yes, how silly of the Job author. How silly to think God is responsible for earthquakes, tsunamis etc.; if not planning them Himself, then allowing them to happen. Why, the problem of evil is just *so* easy, Fr. Martin. All those weeping people in Indonesia or Puerto Rico, how old-fashioned they are. Laugh, kukaburras, laugh. (And thanks for trying, Richard Siegel - read the transcript - though you could have tried harder.)

MARTIN: And I think that's what the pope is getting. He's saying, you know, let's go back to the Greek, and let's see, you know, what might make more sense and what might be more accurate.

The Greek is clear enough, Father Martin. But you're a subtle man, aren't you? Smooth, almost.

MARTIN: [The Greek is from the lost Aramaic of Jesus' language.] And so we can't get back to Jesus' original words...we don't really know Jesus' words....Matthew and Luke...are also in a sense translating Jesus' Aramaic for their community. So there's a distance of about, you know, a couple of decades between when Jesus said it and when it was recorded in Matthew and Luke.

Ah. We can 'translate' it *more accurately*...because we have nothing to translate *from*. Yes. Quite. And twenty years...why, nobody lived more than eighteen years back then, right? Who knows what Matthew and Luke might have been up to.

I recall the first religion question I got wrong. I'm still a little steamed about it, you might guess. The class of, hm, 1st or 2nd graders was asked the meaning of 'Give us this day our daily bread'. Of course I knew God would want to feed us *forever*. But the teacher noted it only asks for the bread *for this day*.

You see where this leads? Why not change that petition too? God doesn't want us just to survive day to day, right? So we must make *that* petition 'more accurate'. And so on. And indeed, it's *most* accurate not to ask at all - as if God needs you to tell Him what you need. That's an inaccurate portrayal of God, no? Now, you might have a theologically more accurate prayer out of this kind of thinking. But what you cannot say you have is the Lord's Prayer: not the traditional one, and a fortiori certainly not the one said by the Lord Himself, unless the Holy Father is claming an *extraordinary* insight in the very words used by Jesus.

As a part-time translator, I'd also say that you fail in the purposes of the prayer, viz. the petition about bread: that verse's phrasing is at least as important for its reminder that *we* pray continually, frequently, daily. To change it is to defang that part of it. And possibly, to 'accuratize' the sixth petition about temptation is to defang an important fact about human psychology in the face of natural evils.

Pardon the screedy tone. What do you all think? I object to three things: (1) the reasoning underlying the proposed change about 'translation'; (2) that somehow most of us haven't 'got' its true meaning; (3) that somehow we don't really have *the Lord's* prayer; (4) that somehow the Holy Father knows what the Lord really meant, not us (such as the Job author).

Yes, he *is* the *Vicar* of Christ....but, well....what do you think? Is my criticism off-base?

C Kirk
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Re: The (so-called?) Lord's Prayer

Postby seamas o dalaigh » Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:56 pm


I'm not qualified to argue the theology of this, but I can comment on the quality and accuracy of the translations.

The Ancient Greek word at the centre of this matter is εἰσενέγκῃς. It is the second person singular aorist subjunctive of the infinitive verb εισφέρω, to carry into.

The Latin translation of the Ancient Greek, ne nos inducas, is about as good as can be had given that Latin doesn't have an aorist (neither does English). The Latin inducas is the second person singular present active subjunctive of the infinitive verb inducere, to lead into.

The English translation the Anglophone world has been familiar with for about 1200 years is a very literal translation of the Latin, ne nos inducas in tentationem - lead us not into temptation.

So, the English is a good translation of the Latin and the Latin is a good translation of the Ancient Greek and, here's the rub, in the Ancient Greek we have an accurate report of Christ's words.

All theology aside, what I want is Christ's words.

While we're on the subject, this isn't the first time our Holy Father Pope Francis has told us of his dissatisfaction with Christ's words. It would seem he's also unhappy with what Christ said about divorce and remarriage, though it's a little hard to be sure given the vague language of Amoris Laetitia. Hence the five dubia - which still remain unanswered.
James Daly
seamas o dalaigh
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