ACTS AND LETTERS OF THE APOSTLES by Richmond--Trans. Lattimore


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With this volume Lattimore completes his translation of the New Testament (The Four Gospels and the Revelation appeared in 1979), and once again readers may wonder just why he bothered. On the whole, Lattimore's version is smooth and graceful; but the scholar who did such fine work with Homer and Aeschylus seems out of his element, or at least unenthusiastic, Englishing the rude Koine of the NT writers. Time and again Lattimore fails to capture the passion, the urgency, the homely Hebraic piety of the original. ""Be practitioners of the word,"" he renders James 1.22, ""not mere self-deceiving listeners""--which pales next to the RSV's forthright, ""But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."" Lattimore's Paul is too calm and self-contained: the RSV's ""'O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting'"" (1 Cor 15.55) turns into ""Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?"" "" God is not mocked"" (Gal 6.7) becomes ""God is not made light of."" As a non-sectarian translator, Lattimore sometimes ignores linguistic nice- ties of considerable religious-symbolic importance: he puts ""baptized for his death"" (Rom 6.3) instead of ""baptized into his death,"" thereby slurring over the traditional Christian view of baptism as immersion or burial with Christ. He similarly weakens a theologically suggestive metaphor in Phil 2.7 by saying that Jesus ""stripped himself"" where the RSV translates ""emptied himself,"" and the NEB ""made himself nothing."" Lattimore achieves some striking effects (""Copy me, as I copy Christ,"" 1 Cor 11.1), but these are often in dubious taste; and he creates needless confusion by omitting all chapter and verse divisions. An altogether respectable job, but technically and artistically inferior to the standard translations, especially the RSV.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux