Leonard GreenspoonJul 9, 2021
Jewish Bible Translations
Personalities, Passions, Politics, Progress
Jewish Publication Society 2020
In his book Jewish Bible Translations: Personalities, Passions, Politics, Progress (Jewish Publication Society, 2020), Leonard Greenspoon is the first to examine thoroughly Jewish Bible translations from the third century BCE to our day. It is an overdue corrective of an important story that has been regularly omitted or downgraded in other histories of Bible translation.
Examining a wide range of translations over twenty-four centuries, Greenspoon delves into the historical, cultural, linguistic, and religious contexts of versions in eleven languages: Arabic, Aramaic, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Yiddish. He profiles many Jewish translators, among them Buber, Hirsch, Kaplan, Leeser, Luzzatto, Mendelssohn, Orlinsky, and Saadiah Gaon, framing their aspirations within the Jewish and larger milieus in which they worked.
Greenspoon differentiates their principles, styles, and techniques—for example, their choice to emphasize either literal reflections of the Hebrew or distinctive elements of the vernacular language—and their underlying rationales. As he highlights distinctive features of Jewish Bible translations, he offers new insights regarding their shared characteristics and their limits. Additionally, Greenspoon shows how profoundly Jewish translators and interpreters influenced the style and diction of the King James Bible.
Accessible and authoritative for all from beginners to scholars, Jewish Bible Translations enables readers to make their own informed evaluations of individual translations and to holistically assess Bible translation within Judaism.
Leonard Greenspoon is Philip M. and Ethel Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization and a professor of theology and of classical and Near Eastern studies at Creighton University.
Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com.