Sunday, June 05, 2005

Against the Middle Man


I get my hopes up, and then they are dashed. Lately I've been working on Augustine's Confessions. Last Friday, I was browsing through the philosophy section of Half-Price Books (window shopping, really) when I came upon a second copy (a Penguin Books translation). When I compared it to my own translation by Whitaker House, I was more than a little surprised to discover that mine only went to book 10, whereas the Penguin version went up to book 13. I have to say that I feel a bit cheated, especially when I went back and checked to find out if there was an abridged notice and found none. Why you would cut out the last 3 books (chapters, basically) and not mention what some would call a significant detail? When you add that to the fact that whenever Augustine quoted Scripture they would insert the KJV translation instead of either a) translating the quote as he wrote it or b) get a translation from a version Augustine would have used if there is the suspicion that he flubbed the quote slightly, although they were good enough to say "all Bible quotations are from the King James Version", I would have to recommend against the Whitaker version.

Good translation in other respects, from what I could tell. (I did a quick check in some areas agains the translation available here on New Advent.) There were a few differences that annoyed me a bit, such as an occurance in Book VII where on New Advent it was translated "Thy Catholic Church" but in Whitaker it was "Thy church [sic]".

It would seem to me that the translator had something of a Protestant bias, and given that the last three books (from what I have read) feature Augustine interpreting the Creation account in Genesis, I really have to wonder if his interpretation was not to their liking , hence why they cut out the last three sections without summarizing the last three books or even mentioning that they were edited out (which to me seems highly irregular, although if someone who knows better could please tell me if I am wrong on this point, that would be greatly appreciated). This is why I need to learn Latin, so that I can read Augustine and Aquinas without some translators getting in the way.

+Ad Majorem Dei Glorem+
"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice."
- G.K. Chesterton ILN, 6/11/10


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