over, according to Fr. Ong, whonrelates the work of Milman Perrynand other scholars, “it becamenevident that only a tiny fractionnof the words in the Iliad zaA thenOdyssey were not parts of formulas,nand to a degree devastatinglynpredictable formulas.”nHe adds, “Homeric Greeksnvalued cliches because not onlynthe poets but the entire oralnpoetic world or thought worldnrelied upon the formulaic constitutionnof thought.” Smugnessnabout being beyond cliche isnhard to maintain in light of thenapproach taken by the mostnrevered of all ancients.nFr. Ong’s book is part of anseries published by Methuennwith the colophon “New Accents.”nThe series includesnStructuralism and Semiotics,nLinguistics and the Novel, Formalismnand Marxism, Deconstruction:nTheory and Practice,nand other similar titles. Thentopics covered by those books areninfluencing or will influence thenway people read and write. Fr.nIN FOCUSnThe Trials of TranslatorsnActs and Letters of the Apostles;nTranslated by Richard Lattimore;nFarrar, Straus & Giroux; NewnYork.nThe difficulties that translatorsnof Scripture face havenchanged rather dramaticallynover the centuries. JohnnWycliffe, “The Morning Star ofnthe Reformation” who initiatednthe first English translation ofnthe Bible, battled vigorousnChurch opposition to his efforts.nIndeed, after his death, thenPope ordered his body exhumednand burned to express antipathynfor his attempt to render Scrip­nOng’s text is both an excellentnstarting point for the pursuit ofnstudies in those areas, and,nmore, a challenge to some ofnthe theories proposed in them.nTo wit: “Jacques Derrida hasnmade the point that ‘there is nonlinguistic sign before writing.’nBut neither is there a linguisticn’sign’ after writing if the oralnreference of the written text isnaverted to.” As Fr. Ong explainsnin a passage worth pondering byndeconstructionists as well asnother intelligent literates:n”What the reader is seeing onnthis page are not real words butncoded symbols whereby a properlyninformed human being cannevoke in his or her consciousnessnreal words, in actual ornimagined sound. It is impossiblenfor script to be more than marksnon a surface unless it is usednby a conscious human being as ancue to sounded words, real ornimagined, directly or indirectly.”nSuch rigor indicates that thenChurch is still an abiding force innthe maintenance of literature. Dnture in the vernacular. More thanna century later when WilliamnTyndale printed the first EnglishnNew Testament in Cologne,nChurch authorities were againnfiery in their wrath, burning allncopies sent to England for distributionnand putting the torch tonthe translator himself—thisntime before death. Nowadays,nBible translators could almostn(but not quite) wish for suchnheated attention. No one is nownburning Tyndale’s masterfulnprose, largely preserved in thenAuthorized or King James Versionnof the Bible, but then relativelynfew people are reading itneither—except perhaps as anpurely philological exercise. Onenof the reasons for this neglect isnthat English is not now quite thensame language that Tyndalenwrote; many modern readers arenput off by ye and thou and arenconfused when let is used tonmean “hinder,” coasts to meann”boundaries,” %vAprevent tonmean “go or speak before.” Anless important reason is thatnmodern scholars have discoveredna number of errors in the KingnJames Version. (The KJV, for instance,ngives dragon for thenHebrew word meaning “jackal”nand unicorn for “wild ox.”) Butnthat these are not the primarynreasons that Scripture has becomena closed book is evident innthe failure of excellent modernntranslations such as the RevisednStandard Version or the RevisednBerkeley Version to capturenlarge and ardent readership.nIn a curious way, modernntranslations are not read for thensame reason that modern translatorsnare never burned; neithernare now taken seriously. Churchnleaders, Catholic and Protestant,nare now almost unanimousnin encouraging the efforts ofncontemporary translators, but inna coldly secular cultiue, spiritualnleaders can kindle neither thenfaggots of the Inquisition nornthe fires of popular acclaim. Further,nbecause so much modernnscholarship rests on skepticalnpremises, those in whom thenembers of faith still glow arenoften somewhat distrustful ofnthe unscathed living translatornand rely instead on the talents ofnthe martyred dead. Consequently,nRichard Lattimore willnprobably receive neither persecutionnnor especially largenroyalty checks for his fresh andnindependent translation oiActsnand Letters of the Apostles.nHowever, since Lattimore is annintelligent and accomplishedntranslator of Greek who cannoften illuminate constructionsnnot clear in older translations.nnnbelievers as well as academicsnwould do well to follow thenApostle Paul’s admonition ton”examine everything, hold fastnto the good” by including Lattimore’snwork in their scripturalnlibrary. Readers should remember,nnonetheless, that Lattimorendoes work alone and that hisnwork has not been systematicallynchecked by any group of scholarsnof the sort jointly responsible fornthe KJV, RSV, and RBV. Andnsince the insertions Lattimorenfeels are necessary for sentencensense are not italicized (as in thenKJV) and are occasionally dictatednby a doctrinal interpretationn(as when he “clarifies”nPaul’s reference to “baptism fornthe dead” with the ex cathedranaddition of words for whichnthere is no analog in other translations),nthe scriptural law requiringnthat every word benestablished in the mouths of twonor three witnesses is surelynapplicable. (BC) DnOf ParsisandnPresbyteriansnEerdmans’ Handbook to thenWorld’s Religions; Wm. B. Eerdmans;nGrand Rapids, MI.nA Documentary History ofnReligion in America: To thenCivil War; Edited by Edwin S.nGauStad; Wm. B. Eerdmans; GrandnRapids, MI.nSome suppose that the investigationnof churches or faithsnother than one’s own impliesndoubt concerning one’s ownnpath. Actually, such study maynmake the devout more effectivenwitnesses to their own faith, as isnevident in the Apostle Paul’snskillful use of Greek polytheismnwhen preaching on Mars’ hill.nEven more important as a motivationnfor studying others’ faithsniS9nMarch 1983n