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.
context. It is puzzling, however, why so many commentators on the sixth petition cite this parallel as if it were already part of the contemporary Jewish background of Jesus’ prayer20, when it is attested only in a fifth-sixth century talmud, and coming, not from Jesus’ homeland, but from faroff Babylon. Since there is no evidence that the prayer already existed in pre-Christian Palestinian Judaism, it has little relevance for the interpretation of the sixth petition of the PN beyond being an interesting parallel of the same protological formulation of later date.
6. Modern Reformulations in Romance-Language Countries
The permissive paraphrase of the sixth petition used by ancient writers of the patristic period has led to the reformulation of the petition often used in modern times in some Romance-Language countries. For instance, in pre-Vatican II French it was normally recited as ne nous laissez pas succomber à la tentation; or ne nous laissez pas tomber en tentation; and even later as ne nous laisse pas entrer dans la tentation (Osty-Trinquet,Bible de Segond ). In Spanish: no nos dejes caer en la tentación. In Catalonian: no permeteu que caiguem en la temptació. In Portuguese: não nos deixeis cair en tentação. In one form or another, this paraphrase continues to be proposed. The form used by Klary (non derelinquas nos in temptatione) has recently been adopted by the Catholic Bishops of Italy: non abbandonarci in tentazione21.
Gnilka rightly noted, however, that if one were to understand the sixth petition merely as a allowance or permission to enter into temptation, one would be weakening the meaning of the Greek text that we have inherited22. Moreover, one should not attribute to human beings themselves an initiative that the Greek text attributes to God, as Dupont and Bonnard have duly stressed23.
7. Attempts to Justify the Permissive Paraphrase
To defend such a permissive reformulation of the petition, however, some commentators have maintained that one has to ask what the original words of Jesus of Nazareth would have been, for though he may have been able to speak some Greek, the evidenee that we have points to his normally