On this program, we talk to Sarah Ruden about her new book, The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the...

On this program, we talk to Sarah Ruden about her new book, The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible (Pantheon, 2017). Novelist J. M. Coetzee praised the book, saying, “If you seriously want to know what the Bible says but don’t have the time or the courage to master Biblical Hebrew or Koine Greek, then Sarah Ruden is the best guide you are likely to find: friendly, informal, yet with a scholarly grasp of just how unrealizable perfect translation is.”

Sarah Ruden holds a Ph.D. in Classical Philology from Harvard University and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. She has taught Latin, English, and writing at Harvard, Yale, and the University of Cape Town and has been a tutor for the South African Education and Environment Project, an education-enrichment nonprofit in Cape Town. She was a scholar in residence for three years at Yale Divinity School and a Guggenheim fellow and is now a visiting scholar at Brown University. In the fall of 2016, she received the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant for her work on Augustine’s Confessions. Ruden made use of her experience in publishing several book-length translations of pagan literature to write Paul among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time (Pantheon, 2010). Her translation of Aeschylus’ Oresteia is part of The Greek Plays, a Modern Library collection (2016). She has begun a new translation of the Gospels for The Modern Library, taking into account linguistic, literary, and historical research that has been poorly represented in standard translations.


Garrett Brown has been the host of New Books in Biblical Studies since April 2015. He works as a book publisher and occasionally blogs at noteandquery.com.

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