10 December 2017

Will he never stop ... (1) Pope Francis and the Our Father

PF thinks the traditional translations of the Oratio Dominica need to be changed. Lead us not into temptation displeases him. Why should God lead people into temptation to sin? Obviously, this must be a Bad Translation. Would May we not be led into temptation be better?

Fundamentalist traddies are likely to be outraged. Changing the Our Father!!!!!

Although of course I am a Rigid Pharisee, I am not that sort of fundamentalist. The Lord's Prayer contains a number of mysteries. Let me go off at a tangent and give you an example from elsewhere in the Prayer. Let me tell you about Give us this day our Daily Bread. The Greek word translated Daily is particularly mysterious. Epiousion is pretty well a hapax legomenon (a Greek word occurring only once) and Origen remarked that you never heard it used in his time. It looks as though it should be related to epiouse, which means coming. Put that together with hemera (day) and it would mean our bread of the coming day, and S Jerome knew of a Hebrew Gospel which did indeed render it by mahar, of tomorrow. Might it mean the Bread of the Kingdom? Might it mean the eschatological Food, tomorrow's Bread which we are allowed to receive today ... i.e. the Blessed Sacrament? Or might epiousion mean supersubstantial? Etymologically, it could do so. And so on. Far from finding my Faith disturbed, I find such questions exhilarating. If you wanted to go further, you could compare the Lucan version of the Our Father with S Matthew's. TheTradition, in all its breadth, gives us such riches upon which to meditate ...

Despite the different possible interpretations of parts of this Prayer, if I were a person of immense authority, I would not choose to use my power to change one single inherited rendering. My first reason for not doing so would be that I am profoundly aware that I am not infallible. And that a rendering which appealed to me 100% today might no longer do so in a year's time. And it is worth remembering that the Church has got along for two millennia without prescribing to us what meaning we should each attach to the words of this prayer. Two Millennia of hermeneutical freedom ... until we reached the Age of Mercy, the Aetas Bergogliana. Now, it seems, we need to be tied down to those particular interpretations and meanings which appeal to this particular, all-wise, pope.

It's almost as if PF has decided to give a big plug to the recent e-book, The Dictator Pope by Professor Marcantonio Colonna, about which I wrote a few days ago.

And let me make this clear: 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.)

My second reason for making no change is pastoral. Back in the 1970s, we in the Church of England did indeed experiment with 'modern' translations of the Pater noster. Those experimental forms are now, I think, rarely used. The reason is: the clergy discovered that among infrequent church-goers, including the house-bound sick and elderly, and those attending Baptisms, Weddings, and Funerals, and the Midnight Mass brigade, the Lord's Prayer was the only formula they knew. Any other liturgical memories they had lingering from their childhoods had been rendered out-of-date by the liturgical revolutions of the 1960s. Was it 'pastoral' to deprive such people of the only remaining bit of a worship-experience which was in the least familiar to them ... which had any sort of purchase upon their memories? So most of us just changed Our Father which ... into Our Father who ... , and left it at that.

Incidentally, the 'modern language' Anglican version ... in case you were wondering ...  finds no problems whatsoever in the phrase which makes PF and, we gather, some French and Italian bishops, lose so much sleep.

We were right not to meddle.

(Concludes tomorrow, by examining Lead us not into temptation.)


Randolph Crane said...

Allow me, Father, to comment on this topic. I am a German native speaker, and this "revision" would affect the way I would pray in Holy Mass (whenever I am attending a NO Mass).

The German translation is: "Und führe uns nicht in Versuchung", being very exact and literal – Et (Und) ne (nicht) nos (uns) inducas (führe in) tentationem (Versuchung) – you just have to re-arrange the words for them to make sense.

The problem is, IMO, twofold: 1) People are used to say "Und führe uns nicht in Versuchung". It would cause great confusion if the Lord's Prayer would all of a sudden be changed. A newer translation, as the Pope recommends it, would also be way more complicated syntactically.
2) Even if what the Pope says was true, why should be change liturgical prayer? It is his job (and the job of bishops, priests, and theologians) to explain the correct meaning of a prayer, not change the prayer itself. If we start with that, why should one not change Holy Scripture itself? It already is being changed (politically correct Bibles, Bibles with different gender pronouns etc.). The new German "Einheitsübersetzung" (translation of the Bible that is to be used in all German speaking Catholic dioceses) began to introduce significant changes in Scripture itself. When St. Paul greets a church, it is not "Brothers" anymore, but "Brothers and Sisters". The reasoning behind that being that "brothers" is a collective address, thus it really means "brothers and sisters", which means the biblical text ought to be revised in order to explain it within itself.

God never leads us into temptation, but he allows it (cf. Job).

If we need to "correct" the translation, we must also "correct" the Latin prayer, as well as the Greek original. A grave mistake such as begging God not to lead us into temptation would have been notices by the Fathers. But they didn't object (and it didn't matter whether it were the Greek or the Latin Fathers).

Randolph Crane said...

Follow up:

The German version of the Pater noster has only been in effect for less than a century. Before that, even in Catholic pew missals, a Lutheran version was used (I might be wrong, and always glad to be corrected). It didn't say "Sondern erlöse uns von dem Bösen" (sed libera nos a malo) which is the current, and also very exact and literal translation, but it was "Sondern erlöse uns von dem Übel" (meaning: deliver us from bad things). This was a faulty translation, of course, since God should deliver us from the devil and his works, and not from having to get up early, or staying late at work.

Victor said...

I respectfully disagree with Randolph on only one point: "Übel" might in current vernacular mean "Bad things" (I am not even sure I agree with that statement), but it is obviously cognate with English "evil" and, I suspect, used to have the same or a similar meaning. I prefer the older translation because it is an excellent example of a liturgical, hieratical vernacular which is decidedly not the common dialect spoken on the street and in TV shows.

But that is of course not the topic here. Getting back to the point, since the German bishops seem to have no problem translating "pro multis" as "für alle", I am not holding my breath...

Randolph Crane said...

Then I will have to disagree with Victor.

"Übel" does etymologically have the same roots as "evil" (ü = e, b = v, e = i), but the meaning is different. Evil (or malo) means "the evil one", ergo the devil. While Übel (can be translated with evil as well) means more something objective, like a bad situation or a bad thing. It definitely does not mean the devil, and does not have the multitude of meaning "malo" actually has. Translating it with "Böses" instead of "Übel" also elucidates Catholic moral teaching, and conveys the idea that there is something objectively bad, and something objectively good. "Übel" is more subjective and personal. I could say: Pope Francis' reign is an "Übel" for the Church, while someone else might disagree. If I say: Pope Francis is "böse", it means: Pope Francis is objectively evil. Thus, we beg God to deliver us from the objectively evil, and not just from what I personally dislike.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote an article about how "Übel" is a mistranslation, and explains in it the _more_ in "Böses".

And yes, it remains to be seen whether a change in the translation would be implemented at all, even if PF would proclaim it as a definitive dogma. The German bishops were never reknowned for being particularly faithful to the teaching of the Church ("Sonderweg"), and even after Benedict XVI wanted "pro multis" translated with "für viele" (for many), they just ignored it. Although the correct translation was printed in the new pan-German chant book, it is still not used in the Missal (which might be because in the German speaking countries, the 2nd edition is still used).

Nicolas Bellord said...

"Give us this day our daily bread"

I am afraid I have always interpreted this in a purely material way i.e. a plea to provide our material needs. Further when I am in Catholic Portugal I eat fresh bread baked daily that very day unlike Protestant England where fresh bread is difficult to find.

bob said...

The dread 'save us from the time of trial' of the Series II concoction replacing this phrase should serve as a warning to 'such men as are given to change'

Deacon Augustine said...

There seems to me to be a serious confusion between God leading into temptation and God actually doing the tempting. Of course we do not accept the latter, but there is clear Scriptural support for the former.

One need only skip back two chapters from Matthew's rendition of the Pater noster to read "Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil."

St Mark uses even stronger language to say that the spirit "drove" Jesus to be tempted by the devil in the desert.

If the Pope meant to say that God does not do the tempting himself, he would be correct - the culprits are the world, the flesh and the devil. But he can't say that God does not lead into temptation without doing violence to the Word of God Itself.

Woody said...

Wait, wait there is more! I want to know why we say "And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." This is not a correct translation of the Latin. It should be "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Why is this? When did this occur and again, why? My research indicates that Tyndale did not like St. Jerome's translation of debts and debtors so he, Tyndale, put it in his bible as trespass. Tyndale's bible eventually became the King James Bible and now everyone uses trespass in the Pater Noster. Father, or anyone, do you know why this incorrect translation is used and how it came about to be used even in my Latin Mass missal of 1962?

tradgardmastare said...

No father, I fear he won't stop.Whatever next? It is getting to a point that you just cannot make it up for truth is infinitely stranger than fiction.

William Arthurs said...

I cannot miss this opportunity to quote the late C H Sisson ("The Alternative Service Book", TLS, 14 Nov. 1980)

"The fruit of excessive variety will certainly be even greater ignorance, for let no one suppose that people will possess anything of the wealth of the Christian tradition unless they learn something first. Even the Lord's Prayer is now on sale in three versions ---- that of the Book of Common Prayer, which until recently every decently brought-up child knew; that of Rite A et passim, and that of Rite B et passim. The latter varies from the true English version only by tiny verbal changes so silly that no one but a pedant would have thought of making them at all ---- changes which, moreover, no one familiar with any range of English as it is spoken today could imagine would be clearer to anybody."

Arthur L. Gallagher said...

I was always very bad at Irish, but its my impression that in Gaelic it renders the prayer as "Do not let us get into temptation" If that is true, there is no problem, but its always what I thought the English version means anyway. I never met anyone who thought that the English version of the prayer was asking God not to lead them into sin, but was asking Him to protect them from it. Was there ever any confusion on this point?

Paddy said...

I remember once ministering to a dying man. Even though he was comatose, and had been for days, I thought that somewhere deep within he might like to hear Morning Prayer read to him. And as he was an older gentleman that he might prefer the old version - ie unadulterated Cranmer. Imagine my surprise when I reached the Lord's Prayer and the man's lips began to move along to the words of the prayer, at times even slightly audible.

Change the wording of the Our Father? I think not.

Fr. VF said...

Utterly Dead on Arrival: the entire post-conciliar rite of penance.

Unknown said...

This kind 'leading people into temptation' of getting some (false) positively feeling about this, and all other changes by the leaders of the novus church, is just one of many attempts of those..., whose main goal is to make the Church - changeable. When they (are trying) achieving that, it would be much easier then to achieve the ultimate target,- to undermine, belittle the Catholic Church down to, to limit Her down to some apostatic Christian communities. Which is known under plural nuon,- the protestants.
That's why we day in and day out, must listen to the cry outs as,- "unity", "bridges", etc...
That seems to be a very sneaky manner of purposely pushing of that well known 'babilonian way' as 'the way' of communication which is not only 'better', but even indispensable for 'the further building of better greater and stronger Church'.
The trick is here thus,- to make all changes if not desirable, then at least acceptable.

Highland Cathedral said...

One minute the Pope seemingly devolves translations of the Mass to Episcopal Conferences and the next he appears to want to decide how the Pater Noster needs to be translated. Is that a correct reading of the situation or is it more fundamental? Does he now want to alter the irreversible liturgical reform which produced the Latin text of the Novus Ordo Mass?

Unknown said...

Actually, no one must be surprised. The prayer of our Lord is already changed!
One year ago, in the part of our Catholic Church which is under the lead and 'protecting' by Belgian (Flemish) and Dutch bishops. And, it's not unimportant to say, that change which is made and introduced and accepted by many (certainly not all) Catholics, is totally different than the suggested one by PF. Which is, again, in my opinion, not incidentally (different from this one).

A year ago, several Dutch Catholics were protesting because the bishops of the Netherlands and Belgium have changed the words of the Our Father as well as to propose an "ideological re-reading of the text." Vox Populi, a Catholic lay group, were organizing a petition arguing that it was more correct the old "bekoring" translation ( "temptation", from the Latin "temptationem") while the new version will replace the word with "beproeving" (which means "test", "ordeal", or "tribulation").
Hugo Bos, Dutch leader of the pro-life group said that the translation "is in line with the tendency of bishops to ignore sin and temptation to sin" and descends from the trend established by the Dutch "New Catechism" of 1965, which eliminates systematically the supernatural by the Church's teachings.

Here is an article about that in Italian:
Here are afew articles about that in Dutch:

Victor said...

@Randolph Crane: "Evil (or malo) means "the evil one", ergo the devil." - Are you sure? I am very much convinced that "evil" means "something very bad, sinister, the opposite of 'good'". As auf second meaning, it can also mean "the Evil one"; but why doesn't it say exactly that then: "deliver us from the Evil one"?
The same goes for latin "malo", which, taken at face value, means just "something bad".
Of course, I am not a native speaker of either English or Latin. But then, neither is Randolph...
Maybe our esteemed and learned host might chip in?

Banshee said...

Pope Francis is trying to distract people from reading the Dictator Pope book, by creating hassle and controversy.

As for "trespasses," actually most of the Old English versions talked about "forgyf us ure gyltas." This referred to "sins, offenses, guilt." (The counterpart phrase was about "gyltendum," which meant something like "offenders" or "those guilty of offenses."

However, the Lindisfarne gloss over Luke says, "And forgef us scylda usra." The Rushworth gloss over Luke says, "And forlet/formitte us ura scylde." Now, the word "scyld" actually does mean both "crime, sin, offense, guilt" and "obligation, liability, due, debt." So that's the more exact translation. (The counterpart is "scyldgum" or "Tham the scyldigat with us.")

Wycliffe had "dettis".

Tyndale was apparently trying to follow the Old English interpretation, but in his own words.

Banshee said...

Victor, I always understood that "deliver us from evil" meant Evil. You know, the quality of the absence of goodness. Obviously this implies the presence of evil people and evil deeds, but that's not what it says.

And I am a native speaker of English, if it means anything.

Thomas said...

A priest once said to me that "knock and the door shall be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7) works both ways. In other words, if you earnestly seek the way of holiness, you will be given the graces you need. However, if you repeatedly resist God's grace and wilfully seek evil, at first there will be warnings and chastisements, but eventually God will give you over to what you desire and you will sink into corruption. I have understood the end of the Lord's prayer in that light, asking The Father not to abandon us to wickedness but to deliver us from the power of sin and of the evil one.

As for "give us this day our daily bread", I don't see why it can't mean both the earthly bread that sustains our mortal bodies and the Bread of Heaven that nourishes us to immortal life. If we have been chosen and blessed in Christ with all the blessings of heaven from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians c.1), then all the gifts of creation must have come through him and lead towards him, and the saving gift of his Body and Blood is the peak and perfection of that same providential love.

Banshee said...

The Great Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide says that "Deliver us from evil" refers to three things: 1) temptation, since we were just talking about that; 2) the devil, since he does a lot of the tempting; and 3) everything that would "incite to evil" or be a "hindrance to virtue." St. Cyprian taught that.

Banshee said...

I messed up. The Lindisfarne and Rushworth gloss wordings above were from Matthew.

The Luke ones: Lindisfarne -- "And forgef us synna usra." Rushworth - "And forgef us synne use." (The counterpart words were "Eghuelc scylde us" and "eghwelce scylde user.")

The other Luke one: "ure gyltas" and "aelcum thara the with us agyltath."

Pax--Tecum said...

@Unknown It's a real shame that the bishops of the Netherlands and Belgium dared to tamper with the prayer of Our Lord. If I remember correctly, the changes were not only approved by the Holy See, but actively encouraged.
It is said that the British author Tolkien didn't like the new Mass in English and that he therefore said the responses in Latin. Well, I do something similar by praying the Our Father in the same way my forefathers did.

I've noticed that priests (at funerals and other occasions where lots of lapsed Catholics are present) disregard the Bishop's directives and suddenly use the comfortable words of the old translation.

Unknown said...

Reading various articles on this topic, no one seems to have mentioned what I think is obvious - the Pope is right - the English rendering is unfaithful to the latin. Et ne nos indúcas in tentatiónem - the verb "indúcas" (inf. Inducere) is second person singular present subjunctive - therefore a good English translation might be - Let us not be brought into temptation. The current translation gives no indication of the subjunctive as seen in the latin. Seeing that the prayer is liturgical it must conform to the latin, as to why some individuals seem to comment about the English translation's closeness to the Greek or Aramaic versions isn't really relevant. However, I'm not a Greek scholar, so I'd like to know people's thoughts - is the latin a faithful rendering of the Greek?

Randolph Crane said...

Victor, I am fairly sure that I am correct on this one. Malo, of course, is not _only_ the devil, but "Übel" would exlude this dimension, as I have tried to explain. It is just not enough to say God may deliver us from bad things.

I agree with Banshee. "Evil" or "malo" has the dimension of evil deeds/people, but much more than that.

I am a studied theologian. Of course I am not infallible, but "Übel" has been refuted many times by many people (among them Joseph Ratzinger).

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Unknown: I'm totally mystified by what you write. A literal translation of ne nos inducas in tentationem would be May you not lead us into temptation. The current translation takes account of the subjunctive by treating the verb as an imperative. I can see no warrant in the Greek or Latin for transmuting the verb into the first person plural passive ... which is what you seem to be suggesting.

The Latin precisely renders the Greek. I have been told there is an Aramaic version in use in those poor Syrian villages where Aramaic is still spoken, but I don't know it. In any case, there is no evidence that the Lord used Aramaic except occasionally when talking to children or the handicapped. This would fit into the normal patterns of bilingual societies.

Unknown said...

@Pax-Tecum, A shame is a very light and nice word for what it really is.
I know that I will never be a part of that progressive part of that modern 'Church of Now'.
I am blessed that I can attend weekly the Holy Mas of all the times, the TLM. Which is in Latin and form of RM 1962., and so perfectly safe. But also, when we are praying the Holy Rosary in our 'safer environment', there is no one who want pray the new age, sorry I mean to say, new way version.
As I said in my earlier comment, we have here to deal with much bigger, dire issue.
To call it 'exchangeable church' or 'churchly exchange',... we have to deal with it now.
But then, everyone of us how should and must to deal with it, must live in-, and whenever necessarily, must also be willing to die for the unchangeable Truth.

Concerning all such 'little things', every faithful one should always keep on his mind, these words of our Lord: "He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater: and he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater." (Lk 16,10)

Nathaniel said...

I found this interesting:


rick allen said...

Apart from the mood of the verb,I was under the impression that the Greek verb was in neither the passive nor the active voice, but in the middle voice. Who then is the subject of "eisphero"?

Woody said...

Thank you Banshee but the Old English would not explain, would it, the incorrect translation from the Latin. "Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris" translates in English to "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Isn't this correct, Father Hunwicke? It was this way until Tyndale made the change. Why would we accept Tyndale's incorrect translation? In fact, the word "trespass" didn't exist until sometime in the 15th or 16th Century. I'm just very curious as to how and why this incorrect translation crept into the Catholic missals. No one seems to have an explanation of why Catholics accepted Tyndale's version and dumped St. Jerome's correct version.

Ignatius, Cornwall said...

There is more than the whiff of the famed diabolical smoke in the Vatican these days with all this attempted changing of Christian Catholic doctrines, despite being contrary to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Do I detect heresy? Oh, I hope not--perhaps just error? And now the words of Jesus God, up to now part of the Church's are to be changed, (sadly not for the first time since VII), rather than being accepted and maybe explained.
Horrific! Never before have attempts to change the Faith been attempted from within the highest places of the Church.
The Lord of this World is snatching at souls like never before.

William Tighe said...

Perhaps of interest:


Cherub said...

Father Hunwicke says: "The clergy discovered that among infrequent church-goers, including the house-bound sick and elderly, and those attending Baptisms, Weddings, and Funerals, and the Midnight Mass brigade, the Lord's Prayer was the only formula they knew. Any other liturgical memories they had lingering from their childhoods had been rendered out-of-date by the liturgical revolutions of the 1960s. Was it 'pastoral' to deprive such people of the only remaining bit of a worship-experience which was in the least familiar to them ... which had any sort of purchase upon their memories?" This experience was also felt in Australia among Anglican clergy. which, too, adopted a new translation of the Pater Noster. The Anglican Church of Australia offered a new translation to be used alongside the traditional version, but the new quickly became de rigueur. And so the sick and elderly and the others were successfully marginalised by the liturgical terrorists.

thewarourtime.com said...

Cf. ARTICLE 3 THE SEVEN PETITIONS > VI. “AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION” > CCC 2846 - http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p4s2a3.htm#2846

Unknown said...

Father H, what a well-formed and delightful cadre of readers!

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Rick: I can't see a middle verb in this line. The verb is 'eisenegke(i)s', which is, surely, the second person singular of the subjunctive of the (strong) aorist active of 'eisphero'. Since it is second person and subjunctive, and is preceded by a negative 'me', it means, totally literally, "May you not carry us into ...". Its subject is You.

Unknown said...

Just a note!
In my comment/answer to Pax-Tecum I made a typo. In the sentence above it must be:
"But then, everyone of us who should and must to deal with it, must live in-, and whenever necessarily, must also be willing to die for the unchangeable Truth.

Unknown said...

And this link below, is just one of many sad examples, which prove my earlier claim about existing forces which are working very hard in their pursuit of achievement of the 'changeable church'

"The cardinal archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand, ordered a change in the Mass recently that is 'completely contrary' to the governing document for all celebrations of the Catholic Mass in the Ordinary Form, a 'creative initiative' the cardinal said was inspired by Pope Francis."

Thomas said...

Fr. H, your comment that "there is no evidence that the Lord used Aramaic except occasionally when talking to children or the handicapped" came as a surprise. It was a commonplace of my religious education that Jesus did routinely speak and teach in Aramaic (plus Hebrew for liturgical prayer). I've heard it suggested that he may occasionally have spoken in Greek, before Pilate for example. But you seem to be saying the direct inverse, which would mean that the Gospels are likely to record his actual words even more directly than I had imagined.

rick allen said...

Fr. Hunswick, thank you (for the correction on the voice). Back to the parsing tables for me......

Banshee said...

"Lead us not into temptation" is obviously a subjunctive in English, because we can't command God. We are pleading with Him.

Just like we have an "implied 'do'" in most English uses of the present tense, we have an "implied 'may You'" in this sort of English construction.

There's a lot of Church use of things that look like commands, but act like subjunctives.

You also see this in a lot of common English expressions, like "Good luck!" or "Happy birthday!" Obviously, we are implying a wish: "May you have good luck!" "May you have a happy birthday!" We cannot command or perform such things, so there has to be an implied subjunctive in use.

Hope this helps!

Philoctetes said...

Dear Fr Hunwicke
Regarding epiousion as a hapax legomenon. I recall reading somewhere (the details of the article escape my memory) that the word was diecovered in a pyrus fragment from Oxyrhynchus. Is this the case?
Yours sincerely
Wyn Thomas (Mr)

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Mr Thomas

It's not in the most recent Supplement of Liddell Scott Jones; and, had it been discovered, it would I think have made an impact on the Internet.

Some years ago, when the Qumran fragment was found which appears to be from S Mark, there was an oddity in the Greek which somebody or other plausibly argued was from the Palestinian dialect of Koine Greek as known, I think, largely from epigraphical evidence. It would be fun to prove that epiousios was a form native to Palestine!!