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What is the literal translation of the above sentence in English?

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    The usual English translation is quite literal--perhaps you can add some context to your question? Some languages (like Spanish) translate the first part less literally (no nos dejes caer en la tentación...)
    – brianpck
    Sep 28 '20 at 16:06
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This passage is taken from Mt 6:13 and is part of the "Lord's prayer," arguably the most common prayer in Christianity. The standard translation of this passage, used by almost all English-speaking Christians since 1611, is as follows:

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil

An earlier translation from 1389 is identical, if you modernize the spelling:

and leede us nat in to temptacioun,
but delyuere vs fro yuel.

This is an "exact literal translation," if by that you mean it does not attempt to offer any explanatory glosses. To explore interpretative difficulties, I think we need to go to the Greek.

The Latin text that you quote is a pretty exact word-for-word replication of the Greek text:

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

Some comments:

  • μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς (ne inducas): this is a standard negative command with the second-person aorist subjunctive. (See Smyth #1840 for this construction.) Latin translates this with ne + present subjunctive. There is no need to read the Latin subjunctive as being polite--it's just a normal negative command.
  • πειρασμός (temptatio): This comes from the verb πειράζω: to "try, tempt, test." This word is used to mean "temptation/trial" throughout the New Testament (see, for instance, 1 Peter 4:12 and Mt 14:38).
    • This passage is often revised slightly in different translations, to explain exactly how God can be said to "lead us into temptation." Spanish, for instance, translates this part as "no nos dejes caer en la tentación," and Pope Francis himself has indicated that he prefers this translation. It seems clear to me, though, that the urge to offer an alternative translation is more a way of preempting misinterpretations of the prayer itself than of rendering the sense more literally.
  • πονηροῦ (malo): The Greek genitive, as well as the Latin ablative, are the same for the neuter ("evil") and masculine ("the evil one"). Both interpretations are possible.
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Literally: "And please do not lead us into temptation/trial, but free us from evil."

I assume this is biblical, but I'm a translate first and cite second sort of guy.

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  • It's biblical all right - this is the Vulgate translation of Mt 6:13. Sep 28 '20 at 19:47
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    Out of curiosity, why "please" and "tribulation"?
    – brianpck
    Sep 29 '20 at 2:06
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    @yutu ne + subjunctive (usually perfect, but present is common too) is a standard way of expressing a negative command in Latin, and it just reflects the Greek construction for 2nd person aorist negative command: μή + subjunctive. (See Smyth #1840)
    – brianpck
    Sep 29 '20 at 11:56
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    @Nickimite Re "tribulation," it seems to me to have a slightly different meaning, and actually the Vulgate uses tribulatio fairly often, as a translation of Greek θλῖψις (as opposed to temptation: πειρασμός)
    – brianpck
    Sep 29 '20 at 12:01
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    I did not know that. I will update my answer, then.
    – Nickimite
    Sep 29 '20 at 17:56

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