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Profiles Interviews

Translator and Poet Willis Barnstone

George Walker speaks with Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and Spanish and Portuguese at IU-Bloomington Willis Barnstone.

Willis Barnstone

None of [the Bible] was meant to be read. That was an invention at the time of St. Augustine—reading silently. They were all chanted. . . . When you hear it in church—at least in the Greek Orthodox church, in the synagogues—they sing them. And it should sing in English.

Willis Barnstone has published more than forty books of poetry, scholarship, translation, and memoir, including The Other Bible, Sappho and the Greek Lyric Poets, and With Borges on an Ordinary Evening in Buenos Aires.

He translated and wrote commentary for The Restored New Testament, A New Translation Including the Gnostic Gospels of Thomas, Mary, and Judas, in which he restored the Latin, Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew names to their original form.


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