How The Lord's Prayer Is Best Translated

Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου,

ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου, γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς.

Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον:

καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν:

καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

Our Father in the heavens, hallowed be the name of yours,

Your Kingdom come, your will be done, as in heaven so on earth.

Our daily bread give us today:

And forgive us of our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors:

And may you lead us not into trial, but deliver us from hardship.

This is my most literal translation of the prayer from Greek, and probably the best translation of it into English. The word “πειρασμός”, so often translated as “temptation” into English, is better translated as trial. Thoughts?

Subject us not to hard trials, but
deliver us from the evil one

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The Jerusalem Bible has the last line as:

“Do not put us to the test.”

I prefer this translation and think that it makes more sense than the “temptation” version.

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With all due respect, I disagree. At the very least, you’re inconsistent. Sometimes, you translate σου as “X of yours”, and sometimes “your X”. Also, your translation of ἐπιούσιον is traditional, but not ‘literal’, as you claim. You also miss the in the first phrase (“who [is] in the heavens”).

How would you render the ἁγιασθήτω in καὶ ὁ ἅγιος ἁγιασθήτω ἔτι in Revelation 22:11? “Hallowed be” or “let be holy”? :wink:

I think I would render μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν not as “lead us not into” but “do not lead us into”.

Finally, ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ is missing a noun, so it’s literally “from the evil [one].”

I think that we receive “temptation” from this text by way of the Latin. Given the Latin translation “tentationem”, it naturally came into English as “temptation”.

I think there are enough examples in the Bible of translating πειρασμός as ‘temptation’ to be willing to look at it either way. :man_shrugging:

Sometimes for it to make sense you have to change it up a bit, and Greek word order is not consistent in itself. I guess the only thing I agree on you with is that I could have translated “ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς” as “who is in the heavens”, and I could have translated “ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ” as “from the evil one.”

I think I would render μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν notas “lead us not into” but “do not lead us into”.

I initially did translate it similarly to that but switched it around because it sounded better.

me: comes into thread
Sees the Greek
leaves thread


Please stay for a cup of tea Mr. @Maximilian75, I insist! :grin:

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Our pastor is a scripture scholar from the seminary. We discussed this and the best take is that in the original languages, the verse does not really render “personal temptation”, but “the test”.
Which has a more eschatological sense than the “dangling carrot sense”.


If you want to be precise, though, the two ways of putting it really do say different things!

“Lead us not into X” is completely different than “Do not lead us into X”, wouldn’t you say? The former says, “you’re leading us” whereas the latter only says “don’t lead us”… (yeah, I’m picking nits, but… isn’t that what translation is all about? :wink: )

I would question your use of the preposition “of” after “forgive”. To my ear it sounds archaic.

Frankly, no, I wouldn’t. I think they mean exactly the same. One form is more self-consciously literary while the other is closer to present-day standard English. That’s all.

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@BartholomewB, give me anything but an apple.
@BartholomewB, don’t give me an apple.

You don’t see a difference there? (In the first case, I can give you pear, and I’ve met your request. In the second, I can give you bupkus, and I’m meeting your demand. :wink: )

No, that’s a false analogy. The true analogy would be this:

(A) Give me not an apple.
(B) Do not give me an apple.

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Fine. Let’s go with that one, then:

In (A), there’s still the notion that I’m giving you something (but you’re specifying what not to give.)
In (B), there’s no notion of giving – just a request not to give. :man_shrugging:

I’m sorry, @Gorgias, I still disagree. Let us imagine for a moment that Bertrand Russell had picked this as an example in a textbook on logic. If he wanted to convey the idea of the request “Give me something that is not an apple,” he might perhaps have written “Give me a not-apple.” But he would not have written “Give me not an apple,” because that would mean something else.

In modern English we normally add the auxiliary verb “do” when we want to put an imperative in the negative. But the use of the negative with a verb in the imperative, omitting the auxiliary, as in “Lead is not into temptation,” has many parallels in Biblical and liturgical use. For instance, look at Psalm 69: 15 in the KJV:

Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.

Do you think the Psalmist is calling upon the Lord to let him be overflowed by something else, but not by a waterflood? Or to let something else shut its mouth upon him, as long as it’s not the pit?

And… there’s your problem right there. You’re conflating the Greek with modern English. :wink:

Look at it in the Greek:

μή με καταποντισάτω καταιγὶς

με is "me"
μή καταποντισάτω is “don’t sink” – it’s third person singular imperative
καταιγὶς is “storm”

So here, we have “don’t sink me [in the] storm”. This isn’t an example of your (A), but of your (B) – it’s a command to not do something. It’s not “sink me not in the storm”, as you’re claiming. :wink:

(And, just in case you were wondering, the “μή με” is a word-order feature of Greek. It’s not saying “not-me sink” (i.e., “go sink somebody else, ok?”) :wink: )

C’mon, @Gorgias, now you’re just trying to wriggle out of it. This has nothing to do with the Greek text of the Bible. The statement you made, with which I am disagreeing, has to do with the English language only and with no other language. You wrote:

“Lead us not into X” is completely different than “Do not lead us into X”, wouldn’t you say?

No mention there of Greek.

And then later you wrote:

In (A), there’s still the notion that I’m giving you something (but you’re specifying what not to give.)

Once again, no mention of Greek or of any other language. It’s strictly a question of the meaning of an English sentence.

Not at all – this conversation started as a question of translation, and that’s how I perceive it. However, I really do stand on my assertion of a difference between “do not-this” and “do-not-do this”.

Ah, but you used, as an example, something that was also translated from the Greek, so I’m pointing out that this example, too, doesn’t prove your point. :wink:

On the contrary, it strengthens my argument. I am comparing like with like. The translators of the KJV—and it makes no difference here whether they were translating from the Greek text, or from the Hebrew, or from both at once—were consistent in their choice of syntax. Where they used, in their Renaissance or Tudor English, “Let not the waterflood …” and “Let not the pit …” in the Psalms, so also in the Gospels they used “Lead us not into temptation.”

Some twentieth-century Bible translations opt for standard modern English syntax and include the auxiliary verb in both passages:

Do not let the flood waters overwhelm me, nor the deep swallow me, nor the pit close its mouth over me. (Ps 69:16, NABRE)

and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one. (Mt 6:13, NABRE)

@ thephilosopher6 -

You’re looking at the Greek - the original was given in Aramaic. If you want the best translation, you’d need to use the original language it was given in as the base on which to best translate to English.

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