Monday, April 23, 2012

New Bible translation...into Hebrew?

"Why Is the Newest Bible Translation in Modern Hebrew?" Biblical Archaeology Magazine asks in an interesting recent article.  In typical fashion, one of its translators answers the question with a question:
“How many Israelis know that an egla meshulleshet [Genesis 15:9] is not a triangular cow but ‘a heifer of three years old’? If they studied [the new translation] the RAM Bible, they would know because it is translated as such: egla bat shalosh.”
The article describes modern Hebrew as "a hybrid of ancient Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, Polish, Romanian and other languages."  It goes on to hint at some of the more controversial translation choices (spoiler: ha-shamayim v'ha-aretz is rendered simply as "the world").  But at the end of the day, the translator admits, "I lose. The Bible is much more beautiful than [my translation].”

Of course, this is different than another Bible translation into Hebrew which I wrote about recently: the Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels.  On a personal note: while my Hebrew studies growing up were almost entirely in modern Hebrew, I have found that it was enough to enable me to jump in reading and translating Biblical and rabbinic Hebrew.  A dictionary and/or grammar are never too far out of reach though...and I'm always learning.

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