Re: the Lord's Prayer

From: Peter Phillips (
Date: Mon Jun 30 1997 - 04:15:37 EDT

Personally I don't accept that there is a problem with PEIRASMON - it would seem even in all of the postings that have been sent in over the weekend that the word still means some form of time of testing whether the object is human or divine.

We still end up with God leading us, or at least us asking God not to lead us into this time. The problem lies surely in the idea that God would lead us into a time of trial. James comes rushing to memory with his affirmation that God does not tempt. And therefore the traditional English rendering from the KJV and the Book of Common Prayer is surely completely unsustainable - Lead us not into temptation - who can this prayer be addressed to? God doesn't do that kind of thing and so why are we asking him not to as if he did?

O'Neill (JSNT 51, 1993), has suggested that we need to look at EISENEGKHIS rather than PEIRASMON. He suggests, after Torrey, that we have a mistranslated Aramaicism. He suggests that underlying EISFERO is the Hebrew 'AL in is AF'EL form - causative. This still doesn;t make sense until you see that BO' (a similar Hebrew verb) [I hear the groans of if...if...if...if but just wait until the end!] appears in 1 Sam 25:26 in a similar idiom - TOU MH ELQEIN EIS AIMA AQRWION - not incurring [the guilt of] innocent blood. Now, another step, in the Testament of the 12 Patriarchs - ERXOMAI is used to translate - "and when they will succumb in evil" in the phrase, "KAI POTE ERXETAI EN KAKWI". In both instances, 'succumb' is translated by "ERXESQAI" WITH "EN" - reflecting the Hebrew use of "B" rather than "AL".

So what does this all mean? Well, O'Neill suggests that the Hebrew/Aramaic original actually used "'AL B..." and the Greek translators rendered this with "EISFERO" misunderstanding that Jesus meant "yield, succumb' rather than 'carry into'.

Ingenious I think although I am struck by the hypothetical nature of it all. I find it increasingly difficult to use the traditional form of the Lord's Prayer - a difficulty here in England where it is still commonplace, because I feel that it is surely wrong to translate it as the traditional form does both for translational and theological reasons.

Hope this helps and does not add to the confusion!

Pete Phillips,
Cliff College, Sheffield, England

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