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A Stranger Problem with Lake’s Translation

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 [...]

Problems with Lake’s Translation of the Apostolic Fathers

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 [...]

Lake’s Apostolic Fathers

I mentioned that the first edition of the Loeb Apostolic Fathers was done by Kirsopp Lake and that I think he was a great scholar and that it was a great edition.  I’ve always looked up to him, as a brilliant scholar of an earlier generation with very many interests closely parallel to mine.   Our backgrounds could not be more different.  He grew up in England and went to Oxford; I grew up in Kansas and went to Moody Bible Institute.  J Born in 1872, as a young man Lake experienced a serious illness that affected his health for life, and that at the time kept him from pursuing the rigors of the legal profession (he wanted to practice law).  His physicians evidently thought that the study of theology would be a tame enough pursuit for his frail frame, and he took his degree from Lincoln College, Oxford.   Lake was musically inclined -- as a young curate in Durham England he conducted the Mikado -- and was early in his career concerned principally with modern social [...]

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