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In a sermon by Randy Pope, he mentions that "do not lead us into temptation" is a "horrible" and "misleading" translation of Matthew 6:13 (around the 11:40 mark).

καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν

It is true that the verb here to lead (εἰσενέγκῃς) is a subjunctive, but given the negation μὴ, Wallace and others call this construction a subjunctive of prohibition.

Is there any compelling reason to render it in English as a subjunctive, e.g. "so that we might not be led into temptation, deliver..."? Nearly every major translation translates it as "do not lead".

Are there any instances in the NT or in non-biblical texts of the age where a subjunctive is preceded by μὴ and is not translated as "do not"?

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  • 1
    But, you are translating the verb passive when it is active. The subjunctive seems to make it condition based on the previous.
    – Perry Webb
    Oct 29 '19 at 9:23
  • 1
    I agree that in order to establish - firmly - the question of the translation, it would be helpful to see how the same construction ( μὴ+subjunctive) is rendered in other texts.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 29 '19 at 12:02
  • @PerryWebb Absolutely correct about my translating in the passive. Pope's alternate rendering was in the passive and I merely paraphrased it: "Deliver us from the evil one so that we might not be led into temptation." Of course, this version has its faults as well, particularly in there's no ἵνα ("so that") as answered below, and that the verb is actually 2nd person singular and not 1st plural. I meant to focus only on retaining the subjunctive in translation.
    – Erich
    Oct 30 '19 at 2:22
  • Der Übermensch is correct. μὴ+subjunctive has the meaning of an imperative. Nigel jogged my memory.
    – Perry Webb
    Oct 30 '19 at 9:03
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It is true that the verb here to lead (εἰσενέγκῃς) is a subjunctive, but given the negation μὴ, Wallace and others call this construction a subjunctive of prohibition.

Expressing a prohibition using μὴ followed by an aorist subjunctive is all too common.1

Is there any compelling reason to render it in English as a subjunctive, e.g. "so that we might not be led into temptation, deliver..."?

No, primarily because it lacks ἵνα (“so that,” “in order that”) which would have been used in conjunction with the aorist subjunctive to express design (purpose or end).2

Nearly every major translation translates it as "do not lead".

Are there any instances in the NT or in non-biblical texts of the age where a subjunctive is preceded by μὴ and is not translated as "do not"?

To be precise, the syntax is: an independent clause in which μὴ is followed by a verb conjugated in the 2nd person, singular number, aorist tense, subjunctive mood, and active voice, written in Koine Greek.3 Accordingly, the negative particle with verb would be translated as a prohibitive subjunctive.4

To answer your last question, I can only state, “Not to my knowledge.” I have not read every Greek text of that age, nor their translations, so I could not possibly answer your question unequivocally. (That is the best I can offer. I am also not concerned about receiving best answer. I answer a question to share knowledge. Upvotes typically speak to the quality of an answer regardless if it receives “best answer.”)


Footnotes

1 Buttmann, p. 211, §139, 6.
2 Winer, p. 287, §41b., 1.; p. 502, §56., 2., a.
3 rather than Attic or Homeric
4 Smyth, p. 404, §1800, a. cf. p. 614, §2707

References

Buttmann, Alexander. A Grammar of the New Testament Greek. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry. Andover: Draper, 1873.

Smyth, Herbert Weir. A Greek Grammar for Colleges. New York: American Book, 1920.

Winer, George Benedikt. A Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry. Ed. Lünemann, Gottlieb. 7th ed. Andover: Draper, 1892.

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  • are any of the examples of the prohibitive subjunctive in your references from non-biblical mss? i don't quite understand the abbreviations e.g. "X. A. 5. 4. 19." in 1800a of smyth. if so, i would consider this answer complete.
    – Erich
    Oct 30 '19 at 20:11
  • i can read the text itself in the cited work. within that cited document, there are certain abbreviations, which i am not familiar with. tl;dr do smyth, buttmann, winer, etc quote any secular works? if so, i could mark the answer as complete.
    – Erich
    Nov 3 '19 at 15:11
  • no, it meant "getting to the point", sorry if you interpreted it otherwise. my first comment asked if any of the examples from the references provided were from non-biblical (i.e. secular) manuscripts. i don't understand the abbreviations that smyth uses to explain where his example sentences are from.
    – Erich
    Nov 20 '19 at 3:00
  • my second comment above, since it wasn't answered, i asked the question again, but more directly: do smyth, buttman, winer, etc quote from secular sources? from the op (emphasis added): "Are there any instances in the NT or in non-biblical texts of the age where a subjunctive is preceded by μὴ and is not translated as "do not"?" if any of your citations (e.g. smyth et al) do quote from secular works, then i will accept your answer.
    – Erich
    Nov 20 '19 at 3:03
  • first don't get me wrong. i've already upvoted your answer, as i think it's great. actually, i'll go even better -- it's better than i ever expected, but: it doesn't answer the full question of whether there is agreement on this from secular sources (at least that i can tell). you stated, "I personally do not know of any instances of an identical syntax written in Koine Greek that is translated differently." that's a bit like asking a whole group of people if there are questions, and one person saying "no".
    – Erich
    Nov 21 '19 at 16:58

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