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Jewish Bible Translations

Personalities, Passions, Politics, Progress

Leonard Greenspoon

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: The Jewish Publication Society
Published: 11/2020
Pages: 344
Subject: Religion
eBook ISBN: 9780827618558


Jewish Bible Translations is the first book to examine 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, Leonard 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. He has authored or edited almost three dozen books.


"Translating their Bible has been a major cultural activity of Jewish communities for well over two thousand years and on several continents, and yet few Jews today know about this history or why it matters. This massively learned but accessible volume admirably fills that glaring gap. I highly recommend it to Jewish and Gentile readers alike!"—Jon D. Levenson, author of Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam  

"This is an irresistible book. Greenspoon distills a lifetime of learning into a lively account of famous and not-so-famous versions of Hebrew scripture in diverse languages—even Chinese. Sages and eccentrics populate his pages."—Ronald Hendel, author of The Book of Genesis: A Biography  

"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 Department for the Study of Religion