Friday, June 17, 2011

Israelites in the Anglo-Saxon Sea - Jewish Ideas Daily

As y'all know, I'm not a fan of translation. Or, rather, I like using MULTIPLE translations when we do text study, and have the original Hebrew handy, lest we fall into the trap of seeing the English rendering--really a whole new piece of literature--as definitive of the Biblical Text. A translation is a filter, and the act of translation is the act of interpretation. Having said that, much richness can be found in translation, with all kinds of interesting insights and the like. This article on Anglo-Saxon/Early English translations of the Bible is, therefore, fascinating to me (especially having studied English at Oberlin, especially Chaucer and Old English with Robert Longsworth. Still regret not taking his course on the Bible as seen through the literature of the Middle Ages).

So check out the article. Here's a sample--Harvey Shapiro's translation of Genesis 1:1. You can really tell a lot about the literary culture and assumptions made by the writers based on this retelling...
The Lord looked on an abyss, deep and dim,
empty and unused, strange to His sight . . .
Then bright with glory, the guardian of heaven
lay His spirit over the deep.
God of the angels, giver of life
decreed light shine on all that black surface.
The High King's bidding was quickly done.
Holy light hovered over the nothingness . . .
First light, bright with beauty, the Life-Giver called day . ..
as the dark shadow slid from the vast abyss.
Israelites in the Anglo-Saxon Sea - Jewish Ideas Daily

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