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8 - Translation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Ronald Hendel
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
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Summary

The topic of translation might seem an afterthought to any discussion of Genesis, a feature not of the Bible itself but rather of its “afterlife.” The book of Genesis, after all, is a record of beginnings; translations, by all appearances, come only later. But Genesis “itself” and its life in translation are not so easily separated. Our understanding of what the Bible is – as a whole and in its smallest details – has been profoundly shaped by translation, even as our experience and understanding of translation owe much to the Bible and its history.

“For Europe,” begins the opening essay in a recent collection on Translating Religious Texts, “the Bible has always been a translated book.” While such a statement mistakenly assumes the equivalence of Europe and Christendom, it remains the case that most of the Bible's readers – in Europe and outside of it, Jewish or Gentile – have known the Bible only in translation. The ramifications of this historical circumstance are hard to overstate. In being translated, the Bible also has been cast and recast, interpreted and rewritten: its obscurities “clarified,” its strangeness domesticated, its character transformed. Such transformations, I hasten to add, are inevitable. Even texts that remain in their own languages take on different colors in different contexts and eras as words acquire new meanings and lose old ones. In translation, this process is closer to the surface because two “equivalent” words in different languages rarely overlap precisely in their range of reference. From this perspective, the narrowest meaning of translation – as interlingual transfer or as the production of a linguistic equivalent – overlaps with the larger sense of translation as cultural transfer, which encompasses the full range of transformations that texts undergo in their movement from one cultural context to another.

Type
Chapter
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Reading Genesis
Ten Methods
, pp. 157 - 175
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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References

The Task of the TranslatorZohn, HarryBenjamin, Arendt, HannahNew YorkSchocken Press 1968 71
Orlinsky, The Role of Theology in Christian MistranslationTranslation of ScriptureGoldenberg, David M.Philadelphia, PAAnnenberg Research Institute 1990 127Google Scholar
Buber, People Today and the Jewish BibleBuber, MartinRosenzweig, FranzScripture and TranslationBloomingtonIndiana University Press 1994 16Google Scholar
Orlinsky, HarryTanakhPhiladelphia, PAJewish Publication Society 1985Google Scholar
Fox, EverettGenesis and Exodus: A New English Rendition with Commentary and NotesNew YorkSchocken 1983Google Scholar
Alter, RobertGenesis: Translation and CommentaryNew YorkNorton 1996Google Scholar
Schleiermacher, FriedrichOn the Different Methods of TranslationTranslating Literature: The German Tradition from Luther to RosenzweigLefevere, AndreAssen, the NetherlandsVan Gorcum 1977 74Google Scholar
Alpert, MichaelTorah TranslationRoutledge Encyclopedia of Translation StudiesBaker, MonaLondon and New YorkRoutledge 1998 269Google Scholar
Fishbane, MichaelBiblical Interpretation in Ancient IsraelOxford, UKOxford University Press 1985 109Google Scholar
Blenkinsopp, JosephEzra-NehemiahLondonSCM Press 1989 288Google Scholar
Rosenzweig, FranzFranz Rosenzweig and Jehuda Halevy: Translating Translations and TranslatorsMontrealMcGill–Queen's University Press 1995 322Google Scholar
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  • Translation
  • Edited by Ronald Hendel, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: Reading Genesis
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511778056.010
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  • Translation
  • Edited by Ronald Hendel, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: Reading Genesis
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511778056.010
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Translation
  • Edited by Ronald Hendel, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: Reading Genesis
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511778056.010
Available formats
×