Wednesday, December 30, 2009

WILLIS BARNSTONE, author of The Restored New Testament is interviewed about his long and interesting career by Bowdoin Magazine (he is a Bowdoin College alumnus). Excerpt:
On Translating:

In your introductions to your Biblical translations, you mention translators from ages past whose lives were endangered by their work. As you've labored on the New Testament, have there been any passages where you wondered if your own choice of words might be considered threatening to prevailing beliefs?

Of course, throughout. That, and the literary love I have for demotic Greek, is one of the main reasons for doing that 10-year project. This is a huge subject, so I should probably stop here. But in my Poetics of Translation: History, Theory, Practice (Yale, 1993), I do talk a lot about such things. Yes, restoring the biblical Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew names of place and person, may be threatening. Actually, my response from people, from right to left, from atheist to believer, is that what I've offered is not a threat but good information. We're in a fine ecumenical period, and people want to know more. Hence the luck now with The Gnostic Bible. Silence now.
I suppose that more technically accurate transliterations of the names and more literal translations of key phrases could be helpful to novice readers and for getting the attention of non-specialist readers who are used to current translations. It seems a little grating to me, but that may be because things seem obvious to me which are not obvious to the target audience.

Reviews of The Restored New Testament are noted here. And I noted a review of The Gnostic Bible some years ago here.