Some people have asked if I could give some examples of the problems with the translations of the Apostolic Fathers in the original edition done by Kirsopp Lake. It’s a fair enough question – although I do want to stress for the 29th time that I think on the whole he made a very fine translation indeed. But there are some serious and widely recognized problems with it.
As one might expect, the translations are dated in places. No longer do we use intentionally archaizing language in translations to indicate their sacrality or antiquity. Lake did do that. It’s like speaking King James English, though, when talking about religion, instead of just talking as one normally talks. Technically it’s not wrong, but it’s a bit strange. Even the authors of the Bible (not to mention the Apostolic Fathers) spoke in the language of their day, not stilted language of 400 years earlier (despite what you hear from the people who still think the King James Version is the one and only inspired translation of the Bible!).
And the English language itself, of course, has changed over the past nine decades since Lake did hs translation. Take an example of a dated rendering, which happens to embody both problems (archaizing and dated language), Lake’s rendition of Barnabas 2:5, a quotation of Isaiah 1 in which God spurns cultic practices performed by rote: “Henceforth shall ye tread my court no more [Lake translates]. If ye bring flour, it is vain. Incense is an abomination to me. I cannot away with your new moons and sabbaths.” I would assume that the verbal use of “away” to mean “endure” or “put up with” is intentionally archaizing (that is, Lake used the word to make the quotation *sound* like an old, venerable piece of Scripture). The word was used this way in Tyndale’s translation in Matthew 19:11, “If any man can away this teaching.” But it was changed already by the King James translators.
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