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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
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 16:06
  • Regarding the meaning you may want to compare James 1,13 f: 13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: See also Sir 11 f 11 Do not say, “Because of the Lord I left the right way”; for he will not do what he hates. 12 Do not say, “It was he who led me astray”; for he had no need of a sinful man. .
    – Norbert
    Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 10:04

2 Answers 2

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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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    Out of curiosity, why "please" and "tribulation"?
    – brianpck
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 2:06
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    "Please" because inducas is a subjunctive form of induco, -ere which makes it a polite command. "Tribulation" because it means the same thing as "trial" in English, and I just thought the word had a nice force to it. Although, it would be fair to say that "trial" better captures the sense of being tested and "tribulation" better expresses difficulty.
    – Nickimite
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 4:01
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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
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 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
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 12:01
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    I did not know that. I will update my answer, then.
    – Nickimite
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 17:56

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