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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) – Italian missals will now include Pope Francis' mistranslation of the Lord's Prayer, which, according to top biblical scholars, is without precedent in manuscript readings, theology or Tradition.
Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, head of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), on Friday presented the pontiff with the first copy of the newly revised missal.
The new CEI missal, which includes the revised version of the Our Father and the Gloria has been authorized for liturgical use in parishes with immediate effect but will be mandatory from Easter Sunday 2021.
Biblical scholars and theologians are excoriating the pontiff's controversial redaction of the sixth petition of the Lord's Prayer from the Italian "e non ci indurre in tentazione" ("lead us not into temptation") into "non abbandonarci alla tentazione" ("do not abandon us to temptation") as an act of "Protestant iconoclasm."
The word "anche" ("also") has been inserted into the fifth petition of the Padre Nostro. The new version reads: "forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors."
Pope Francis had criticized the rendering of the sixth petition when interviewed on TV2000 in 2017 as "not good" and needing to be changed.
The pontiff said he didn't like the traditional wording — an accurate translation of Jesus' words in both Matthew and Luke's gospels — because "it's not [God] who throws me into temptation, in order to then see how I've fallen."
"No, a father doesn't do this ... The one who leads us into temptation is Satan. That's Satan's task," Francis argued — failing to acknowledge that the Greek word for "temptation" (πειρασμός) can be also translated as "testing" and that the Old Testament produces copious examples of God "testing/tempting" his people.
In comments to Church Militant, distinguished New Testament scholar Steve Walton noted that "the first of the changes to the Lord's Prayer is sensible."
"The Greek does say 'as we also forgive our debtors' — this rightly strengthens the connection between receiving God's forgiveness and our forgiving others, as in the parable of the two debtors (Matthew 18:23–35)," said Walton, former professor in New Testament at St. Mary's Catholic University, London.
But "the second change is mistaken: the Greek does say 'lead us not into temptation,' and we have no manuscripts which have a different verb," Professor Walton maintained.
"Scholars have long debated the sense of this phrase, which does sound odd: Does God really lead us into temptation? Nevertheless, the Greek verb certainly doesn't mean 'abandon,' but 'take' or 'lead.' There is no precedent in Christian theology or tradition for the sense 'abandon,'" he insisted.
Walton, who is currently writing a two-volume, major critical commentary on Acts for the Word Biblical Commentary series, clarified:
The verb 'take' or 'lead' is used in a physical sense when the paralyzed man's friends bring him to Jesus (Luke 5:18–19 NRSV). And we need to remember that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength, but promises us a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) —we can pray the Lord's Prayer in this confidence.
There is even more basis for the prayer's wording elsewhere in Scripture.
Old Testament scholar Dr. Gavin Fernandes explained to Church Militant that "testing in the Old Testament is depicted, broadly speaking, for four purposes that relate to four kinds of believers, from the exemplary down to the nasty."
Fernandes, a Hebrew expert, elaborated:
The first purpose is to reveal the faithful believer as a model to follow (e.g. Abraham in Genesis 22). A second purpose is to fortify purity and endurance of weak believers (Psalm 26:2). A third purpose is to bring reform to the sinful. Finally, the un-repentant "believers" are tempted to their own destruction because they repeatedly transgress the commands of God (e.g., Ahab in 1 Kings 22:20).
"Clearly, only the third kind of test is presupposed in the Lord's Prayer, designed to bring 'good' to any who are sinning precariously but who desire reform (Deuteronomy 8:2; 8:16). God never tests us to entice us to sin. That is what St. James means when he says: 'God does not tempt anyone.'"
"So, when a person prays, 'lead us not into temptation,' it presupposes the possibility of sin and the precarious state of our own souls under mortal sin. To alter the petition to 'abandon' uproots the context of sin that is presupposed and even challenges the nature of God himself as father in relation to reforming us," Fernandes said.
Italian linguist and academic Elisabetta Sala told Church Militant that the seed for liturgical innovations were sown after Vatican II and particularly in the 2008 translation of the Italian Bible under the direction of biblical scholar Cdl. Gianfranco Ravasi. "The great mistake was the new rite [Mass] of 1969," she said.
La Bibbia (2008) mistranslates Matthew 6:13 as "and do not abandon us to temptation." It also distorts the Lukan version of the Lord's Prayer (Luke 11:4) with the same misrendering of the original Greek.
A sidebar in the Italian Bible accepts that "lead us not into temptation" is "a more literal translation of the Greek."
Nevertheless, it justifies the new translation, arguing: "The expression, of strong Semitic imprint, wants to safeguard God's dominion over evil, so as to avoid any dualism, but also wants to evoke the temptation test: The meaning, therefore, is that of entreaty to God so that he does not expose us to the temptation of evil and to the test of faith and, in any case, always sustain us in them."
"Do they know better than Jesus? Does this not stink of neo-Marcionite heresy — an attempt to erase Semitic underpinnings behind Jesus' theology? Was Jesus not a Jew, and wouldn't he think and speak like one?" asked Sala. "Ironically, such dualism is Greek, not Hebrew!"
"How is this different from what Protestant Martin Luther did when he added the word 'allein' (only) to his German translation of the Bible in Romans 3:28 so that it supported his innovative doctrine of justification by faith alone?" the academic questioned.
Ravasi, no friend of the Traditional Latin Mass, eschews what he calls 'rigidity' in the liturgy, and argues that "active participation" is not guaranteed by an 'essentialist' liturgy that is reduced to 'obedience to all the rubrics,'" Vatican correspondent Ed Pentin writes in his recent book The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidates.
The new missal's eucharistic prayer will continue to say Jesus' blood was poured out "per tutti" ("for all") and not "per molti" ("for many").
This is despite Pope Benedict XVI's desire to revert to "for many" since Pope Francis prefers the current version "for all" because of its universalistic connotations.
Monsignor Nicola Bux, liturgist and former consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) blasted the Italian bishops for "capitulating to feel-good conception of God widespread among Catholics today."
The German Bishops' Conference did not introduce this innovation because the German Protestants did not agree with this novelty, he said. "The [Eastern] Orthodox in Italy have preserved 'and do not lead us into temptation.'"
"The craving for change is an expression of the 'paradigm shift' or 'cultural revolution' that is to be made in today's Church" where the "Church is not considered as the Bride of Christ, to be preserved and passed on to the new generations, but as something to be manipulated at will," Bux lamented.
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