This week, the bishops of Italy submitted for approval a translation of the Our Father in which the line “lead us not into temptation” is changed to say “abandon us not when in temptation.” This has lead to some headlines claiming that Pope Francis is trying to change the Our Father. These headlines are not accurate, as it is only the Italian translation that would be changing, if approved by the Vatican. But is it OK to be changing the words to the Our Father, since this was the prayer given to us by Jesus?
Dr. John Bergsma, professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, stopped by The Drew Mariani Show™ to discuss this translation change, and why it is not as troubling as some try to make it seem.
“The pope is not changing the Our Father. He’s making an argument that in some language, like Italian and English, our translation should be changed to more accurately reflect the meaning of Our Lord,” Bergsma told Drew Mariani.
While the Our Father was given to us by Christ Himself, His words have been translated into every language, and the concern is that some of the meaning is lost in translation. Bergsma said, “It’s hard to render into a different language the Our Father, as we have it in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. But of course the Lord’s Prayer would have been originally prayed in Aramaic. So there’s a transition right there. From Aramaic, which is what Jesus and the apostles spoke, to Greek which was the international language of the day. Translation is difficult.”
“So, in the Greek it does say ‘lead us not into temptation,'” he explained. “But there is not a Bible scholar out there who believes that this is what was meant. What it means is much like the Spaniards translate, ‘don’t let us fall into temptation.’ In fact, something like that would be my preferred translation in English.”
And while the possibility of a translation change for the Italian church is new, this particular translation is already used in the Spanish and French-speaking church. In fact, Bergsma suggested that one of the reasons Pope Francis has advocated for this translation change is that he comes from a Spanish-speaking part of the world where this translation change as already been made.
“We should say, since the 1700s the Spanish have been saying, ‘let us not fall into temptation,'” explained Bergsma. “So this is why the pope notices it. Because ministering in Argentina, he always said, ‘let us not fall into temptation.’ Going back to Italy as pope, he is now leading everything in Italian, and he noticed … it was not what he was used to in a Spanish-speaking country. So he started poking around and thinking if it was theologically the best thing to say.”
Listen to the full conversation with Dr. John Bergsma below: