THE FOUR GOSPELS AND THE REVELATION by Richmond--Trans. Lattimore

THE FOUR GOSPELS AND THE REVELATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An eminent translator of Homer and other Greek classics tries his hand at the New Testament, not too successfully. The bulk of recent N.T. translations have aimed at recasting the text in a more or less contemporary idiom, but Lattimore tries to stick as close to the Greek as possible, in hopes of creating ""an English prose that to some extent reflects the style of the original."" This puts him into competition with the best of the modern literal translations, the Revised Standard Version (based, of course, on the King James Version), and Lattimore comes off badly. His work has its virtues--clarity, dignity, economy--but it is consistently inferior to the RSV in color and evocative power. Consider a passage chosen at random, Mark 15, 16-32. In the RSV the soldiers ""knelt down in homage"" to Jesus; in Lattimore they ""did obeisance to him."" In the RSV they ""stripped him of the purple cloak""; in Lattimore they ""took off the purple."" In the RSV the two thieves ""also reviled him""; in Lattimore they ""also spoke abusively to him."" Lattimore gives us ""they called up their whole battalion"" (instead of ""called together"") and ""they impressed him"" (instead of ""they compelled""), twice using verbs with irrelevant connotations--Simon of Cyrene was not impressed, in the strict sense. Every now and then Lattimore improves on the RSV (in this case, his ""the anointed"" may be better than the RSV's ""the Christ""), but very rarely. Reynolds Price published some interesting New Testament translations just recently in A Palpable God (1978). Price knows much less Greek than Lattimore, but he has two qualities noticeably missing in this translation: personal enthusiasm and a flare for storytelling.

Pub Date: April 9th, 1979
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux