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     The Lord’s Prayer: Also called the Our Father (Latin, Pater Noster) is a venerated Christian prayer which, according to the New Testament, Jesus taught as the way to pray. — Wikipedia

Some word debates are more important than others.

Pope Francis, by changing the wording of the Lord’s Prayer for Catholics, has renewed the discussion of whether the phrase, “lead us not into temptation,” was accurately translated.

The replacement wording is: “Do not let us fall into temptation.”

This is not a new debate. At a Christmas gathering in 2017, I asked two Catholic priests what they thought of the debate over the wording. They were noncommittal and probably knew that the pope was reviewing the translation.

From an English language standpoint, the change makes sense.  When the Lord’s Prayer says, “lead us not us into temptation,” the reasonable response would be, who says He would do that? And the answer is, no one. It is Satan who leads us into temptation, not God.

Theologians tell us that God doesn’t prevent us from being subjected to temptation nor does he always prevent us from falling victim to temptation. But those situations are far different from prayerfully asking Him to not lead us astray.

The pope said the wording was studied for 16 years by experts and they found a mistake in the current translation “from a theological, pastoral and stylistic standpoint,” according to U.S. Catholic magazine.

And yet, there is resistance to the change. Part of it is tradition. The prayer has been said as it is for thousands of years even though that phrase has been questioned by many believers.

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry explains it this way: “Jesus did not ask us to pray that God would not tempt us but rather that He would not lead us into temptation. Thus the implication is not that God Himself might tempt us, but rather that He is the one guiding our lives and that we desire Him to lead us away from evil influences that tempt us to sin.”

OK, the explanation sounds reasonable, but that’s not what the phrase actually says.

Another citation that defends the current phrase uses the reasoning that “lead us not into temptation” means that we are asking Him to “lead us away from evil influences.”

But again, that’s an interpretation of an interpretation. It’s not what the biblical text actually says.

I cannot attest to Greek or Aramaic translations. I am not an expert in ancient languages or even our present language. Yet you don’t have to be an expert to see that the present phrase literally doesn’t seem logical.

This debate is far from over.

June 19, 2019