Joseph A. Fitzmyer, «And Lead Us Not into Temptation», Vol. 84 (2003) 259-273
The sixth petition of the "Our Father" has been translated in various ways across the centuries. This article discusses its literal meaning and the permissive paraphrases of it, explaining the sense of "temptation" and God’s activity in "leading" into it, as well as the various subterfuges adopted to avoid the obvious meaning of the Greek formulation, including its supposed Aramaic substratum. It concludes with a pastoral explanation of the petition.
graeco nusquam... nisi ne nos inferas ... (De dono perseverantiae 6.12; PL 45. 1000). Augustine also carefully explains that "aliud est autem induci in temptationem, aliud temptari" (De sermone Domini in monte 2.9.30) and further distinguishes the sense of peirasmo/j: "there is another tentatio that is called probatio. About this tentatio it is written, ‘The Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love him’ (Deut 13,3bc)" (Sermo 57.9; PL 38.390; Works of Saint Augustine 313.113; cf De sermone Domini in monte 2.9.3 1).
Jerome (A.D. 345-420): ne inducas nos in temptationem, quam ferre non possumus (In Ezekielem 14.48.16; CCLat 75.735).
Among Greek writers, 1 shall cite only two. Origen (A.D. 185-254), who apparently knew only the basic Greek form of the sixth petition, says in his treatise on prayer,
pa=jtoi/nun "o( bi/oj", kaqw_j proei/rhtai, tou= "a)nqrw/pou e)pi_ th=j gh=j" e)sti "peirath/rion" [LXX Job 7,1] dio/per eu)xw/meqa r(usqh=nai peirathri/ou, ou)k e)n tw=| mh_ peira/zesqai (tou=to ga_r a)mh/xanon, ma/lista toi=j "e)pi_ gh=j") a)lla_ e)n tw|= mh_ h)tta=sqai peirazome/nouj... to_n de_ h(ttw/menon e)n tw|= peira/zesqai ei)se/rxesqai "ei)j" to_n "peirasmo_n" e)nexo/menon toi=j diktu/oij au)tou=. u(polamba/nw, All ‘life’, then, as it has been said before, ‘of a human being on earth’ is a ‘temptation.’ Therefore we must pray to be delivered from temptation, not in the sense of not being tempted (for that is impossible, especially for those ‘on earth’), but in the sense of not being overcome when tempted. I understand the one who is overcome when tempted to be entering ‘into temptation’, being caught in its nets (De oratione 29.9; GCS 2.385). Cf. In Ps 17,29: ei)j peirasmo_n ou)k ei)se/rxetai ou) tw|= mh_ peirasqh=nai, a)lla_ tw|= mh_ a(lw=nai tai=j pagi/si tou= peirasmou=.
A fragment of Dionysius Alexandrinus, if it is genuine, preserves the permissive paraphrase, said to be like that of Marcion, mh_ e)a/sh|j h(ma=j e)mpesei=n ei)j peirasmo/n (PG 10.1601).
5. A Jewish Parallel to the Petition
From this late period comes also an interesting parallel in a Jewish evening prayer, preserved in the Babylonian Talmud:
)+c ydyl yn)ybt l)w hryb( ydyl ynlygrt l)w
Nwyzb ydyl )lw Nwysn ydyl )lw Nw( ydyl )lw
"Accustom me not to transgression, and lead me not into sin, and not into iniquity, and not into temptation, and not into contempt" (b. Berakoth 60b)19.
In contrast to the late Christian reformulations of the sixth petition, the Jewish prayer preserves the protological thinking of the OT, because it is a prayer addressed to God, asking him not to lead one into such situations. The parallel reveals that the Matthean sixth petition would be at home in a Jewish