Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The Poems of Jesus Christ (W.W. Norton), translated by Willis Barnstone
Willis Barnstone, poet and Indiana University comparative literature professor, has been on a mission to shine new light on the sacred writings of Jews and Christians. The latest chapter in his often-intriguing project recovers the poetry at the heart of the four canonical Gospels, plus the Gospel of Thomas. Barnstone seeks to find the authentic voice of Jesus, whose metaphorical language was often flattened by prosaic translations in later centuries. Barnstone believes that the Greek scribes who set the Gospels to paper were already at a distance from Semitic poetry, with its particular sound patterns, but admits that when chanted in liturgical settings, the texts inevitably returned to poetry in the ear of the hearer.