Rags of Light

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I’ve been working my way through Richmond Lattimore’s translation of the New Testament. Lattimore is the author of well-known translations of the Iliad and Odyssey, and says that he strives to come as close as possible to a word-for-word translation from the Greek. The result reads fairly smoothly, with none of the self-conscious edginess of D. B. Hart’s recent attempt. But I keep coming across intriguing little differences from more mainstream translations. Just for example, Luke 3:16 in most translations has John the Forerunner saying of Christ “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Lattimore follows the Greek, which literally says “He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire.” This seems like a potentially significant difference, and I wonder why the translations we usually use (including the King James, by the way) go with a less literal rendering.