Lost in Translation? Pope Ponders an Update to Lord’s Prayer

Lost in Translation? Pope Ponders an Update to Lord’s Prayer

The Church of England has two forms of the Lord’s Prayer – traditional and contemporary — but both use the same wording in seeking protection from temptation, according to the church’s website.

Pope Francis has generally shown a willingness to rethink liturgical translations. He recently took the controversial step of changing church law to give local bishops’ conferences more authority over translations of the liturgy. He was responding, in part, to widespread discontent with English translations that were literally correct but awkward and unfamiliar for worshipers.

In his interview on Wednesday, the pope was focusing on the prayer as it is rendered in Italian. But scholars have noted that the ambiguity in meaning predates even the Latin rendering of the phrase: “et ne nos inducas in tentationem.”

The word “tentationem,” and its Greek equivalent, have been translated in various ways over the centuries. Some say they better translate as trial or testing, and might refer either to the tribulations described in Scripture, like the suffering endured by Job, or even the Last Judgment.

The pope’s reflection was part of a nine-episode commentary on the Lord’s Prayer that TV2000 has broadcast every Wednesday evening since October. Each program includes an exchange between the Pope and the Rev. Marco Pozza, a prison chaplain in Padua known as “Father Spritz,” after the renowned Venetian aperitif, because of his work evangelizing young people in bars and on the streets.

In a book published in connection with the program, the pope said: “Evil is not something impalpable that spreads like the fog of Milan. It’s a person, Satan.”

Satan is a master of seduction, the pope added, and that, in the end, “is the meaning of the verse, ‘Do not let us fall into evil.’ We must be crafty in the good sense of the word, we must be sharp, have the ability to discern the lies of Satan with whom, I am convinced, it’s not possible to conduct a dialogue.”

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