Other problems with the edition of the Apostolic Fathers done by Kirsopp Lake relate to the period when he produced it. This is scarcely an avoidable problem, of course; but the reality is that his time is not ours. Lake was born in 1872 and was given, then, a solid Victorian education in the classics in Oxford. And there are passages in his translation where his cultural milieu shines through, none more clearly than in Barnabas 10, where Barnabas is discussing some of the food laws of the Old Testament in order to show that Jews have misconstrued them in a literal way — misled as they were by an evil angel — when in fact God meant them to be taken figuratively as indications of how one was to live. And so, for Barnabas, the commandment not to eat pork, for example, does not literally mean not to eat pork; it is a command not to live like or associate with people who are like pigs — who grunt loudly when hungry but are silent when fed. People should not behave like that towards God, coming to him with loud complaints when in need, but ignoring him when things are going well. That’s what it means, says Barnabas, not to partake of pork.
Easy enough. But later in Baranabas’s discussion of food laws is the infamous case of the rabbit. What does it mean that God’s people not to eat rabbit? It means that they are not to be like rabbits, who, as Baranabas indicates, grow an additional orifice for every year they live, making them peculiarly adapted for sexually licentious behavior. Try explaining *that* to a class of undergraduates….
But how does Lake, the scholar trained in classics in the late Victorian period render the passage? He doesn’t render it. Instead he provides the Latin version for the verse. Really. He translated it into Latin instead of English.
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