Jewish Bible Translations Personalities, Passions, Politics, Progress

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  • Leonard Greenspoon (author)

About the Book


Jewish Bible Translations is the first book-length history and analysis of Jewish Bible translations from the third century BCE to our day.  As such, 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.  He 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, he shows how profoundly Jewish translators and interpreters influenced the style and diction of the King James Bible.

Accessible and authoritative for beginners to scholars, Jewish Bible Translations will enable readers to make their own informed evaluations of individual translations and to holistically assess Bible translation within Judaism.

“No one has more information at their fingertips than Greenspoon, and this book will inevitably become a resource for anyone working in translation. The book should also appear on course syllabi in Bible Studies as well as the history of Bible translation, and inform scholarship in Translation Studies as well.”Naomi Seidman, University of Toronto Dept. for the Study of Religion

Leonard Greenspoon

(Ph.D., Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University, 1977) is the Kltuznick Chair in Jewish Civilization and Professor of Classical & Near Eastern Studies and of Theology at Creighton University.  In addition, he has taught at Clemson University, Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Oxford University, the University of Bucharest, and Charles University (Prague).
He has edited or authored twenty-six books, with two more in press and three in progress, and written nearly 300 articles, book chapters, and extended encyclopedia entries, as well as 500+ book reviews.
He served as President of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, editor of the Society of Biblical Literature’s Forum, and author of The Bible in the News column for Biblical Archaeology Review.  In addition, he has organized and hosted over twenty symposia on Jewish civilization.

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