TIC Talk 68, 2010

Newsletter of the United Bible Societies Translation Information Clearinghouse

Article: Miqra'ot Gedolot, by Sarah Lind
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Miqra’ot Gedolot for the Rashi-script Challenged

by Sarah Lind

When you study an ancient text around which clamor the commentaries of thousands of years, you are never alone. You step into a room where the hubbub is sometimes so loud you can barely hear yourself think. In a rare case, you find a corner where only one or two are murmuring, and you have to strain to follow the reasoning of an unfamiliar tradition.

About five years ago, the Jewish Publication Society began a series that brings into English a graphic representation of some of the most important­—yet also often most inaccessible—of these conversations, that is, the commentaries of medieval Jewish exegetes. The project is called The Commentators’ Bible: The JPS Miqra’ot Gedolot, edited, translated, and annotated by Michael Carasik. Two volumes, beautifully printed, have been published so far, Exodus (2005) and Leviticus (2009). (If you’re a member of SBL you can get a very good discount on these up to Dec. 31.) The publication joins a host of others that from the 19th c. on came to be called miqra’ot gedolot, though the phrase was used much earlier in its singular form to refer simply to a large-format printing of the Bible.1 But from its application retrospectively to the First Rabbinic Bible of 1517 and all those that followed, the phrase has come to refer to an anthology of the great commentators printed with the biblical text, no matter what the physical size.

A page of the JPS publication demonstrates how the layout creates and encourages the sense of a conversation among the text, translations, and commentary (below). And when you read the commentators, that sense is sharpened in the resonance of their direct calls and responses.

On the page we find, centrally, the MT (red rectangle), which is the JPS text based on Leningrad; above it, what the editor describes as the modern equivalent of the targumim, i.e., the 1917 JPS and the 1985/1999 NJPS English translations (arrows); and below and around the biblical text, four prominent medieval commentators. In pride of place is the preeminent Rashi (Rav Shlomo ben Yitshaq, 1040-1105, France; lt. blue circle), then Rashbam (Rav Shmuel ben Meir, Rashi’s grandson ca. 1085-ca. 1174, also France; med. blue circle), Abraham ibn Ezra (1089-1164, Spain, Italy, France, and England; yellow circle), and Ramban (Rav Moshe ben Nachman or Nachmanides, 1195-ca. 1270, Catalonia; green circle). Editor/translator Carasik has added various other commentators in “Additional Comments” (dk. blue circle), when he thought they would be of particular interest to readers.



Predecessors in Manuscript and Print

Direct ancestors: The first miqra’ot gedolot

The first large-scale implementation of this layout with the biblical text was in 1524-25, when a Dutch Christian printer in Venice published what came to be known as the Second Rabbinic Bible, a large-format Hebrew Bible with Targum Onqelos and commentaries by medieval Jewish exegetes. Daniel Bomberg had gotten his feet wet almost ten years earlier with what became known as the First Rabbinic Bible (1517), but the work of its editor, Felix Pratensis, was sharply criticized, perhaps in part because Pratensis was an apostate Jew, but also because of the quality of the editing. Furthermore, it was much less ambitious than the second attempt in terms of what was included and in page layout. It consisted of the biblical text, a Targum, and generally one commentator per book, except in Job and Ezra-Chronicles. In response to the criticism, and to provide a magna biblia that was more acceptable to Jews, Bomberg engaged Jacob ben Hayyim ibn Adonijah as editor of a second magna biblia rabbinica. Bomberg had already faced the printing challenge of both the Jerusalem and Babylon Talmuds (ben Hayyim was also an editor for both) since the time the First Rabbinic Bible was printed, and he applied the same type of page layout for the first time to the Rabbinic Bible.

For the Hebrew text (red rectangle), ben Hayyim improved greatly on that of the First Rabbinic Bible, and on earlier editions, through his study of the biblical manuscripts that he had access to, including a large number of Sephardi manuscripts. One of the ground-breaking features that ben Hayyim brought to the Second Rabbinic Bible was the Masorah (lt. blue circle in middle and med. blue rectangles), which up to that time had not been included in printed editions. In C. D. Ginsburg’s words, he “rescued the Massorah from perdition” (Ginsburg, 1) and kept many people in employment for centuries to come. Ben Hayyim’s work on the text and Masorah proved so solid that they served as the standard for future Bible editions and miqra’ot gedolot right up to the 20th century.

When biblical scholars pay any attention to the miqra’ot gedolot, it is generally this aspect of the 1525 publication that interests them, as is evidenced from Ginsburg to Schenker and Tov. It seems the same is true for editor ben Hayyim himself, whose introduction is occupied mainly with matters masoretic:

What profit can be derived from the Massorah? ... it has almost been forgotten and lost, therefore I bestirred myself, as this afforded me the opportunity to do the work of the Lord, to shew the nations and the princes the value of the Massorah; for without it none of the sacred books, and particularly the Pentateuch, can be written with propriety and correctness. (Ginsburg’s translation, 41)

Ben Hayyim proceeds to expound his ideas about the Masorah in dialogue with centuries of opinion about its value, origin, and meaning. His lengthy essay is a model of learned rabbinic interaction in itself. The introduction of the Masorah into this edition recovered an important voice in the conversation about the text, a voice that is, regrettably, missing in the new JPS publication.

The four volumes of the Second Rabbinic Bible contain a profusion of new and old voices. In addition to ben Hayyim’s introduction, there is an index to the Masorah, ibn Ezra’s introduction to the Pentateuch, Moses ha-Naqdan’s treatise on accents, the variations between the Eastern and the Western texts and between Ben Asher and Ben Naphtali; it contains the Pentateuch with Targum (lt. purple rectangle, above), Rashi (turquoise circle), and ibn Ezra (green circle); the Former Prophets with Rashi, Kimhi, and Levi ben Gershon; Isaiah with Rashi and ibn Ezra; Jeremiah and Ezekiel with Rashi and Kimhi; the Minor Prophets with Rashi and ibn Ezra; Psalms with Rashi and ibn Ezra; Proverbs with ibn Ezra, Moses Kimhi, and Levi ben Gershon; Job with ibn Ezra and Levi ben Gershon; Daniel with ibn Ezra and Saadia; Ezra with ibn Ezra, Moses Kimhi, and Rashi; Chronicles with PseudoRashi; and the Five Scrolls with Rashi and ibn Ezra.2 After 1524, no edition of a Rabbinic Bible limited commentary on any biblical book to only one commentator (Levy, 69).

Manuscript relations: Hebrew, Greek, Latin

Neither the printing of biblical text with commentary nor the layout of commentary surrounding text sprung fully formed from the head of Bomberg. I couldn’t find any claims about when such practices first arose, but there are much earlier examples, both in manuscript (such as the one to the left) and print.








Vat. ebr. 127, a 14th c. Babylonian Talmud manuscript with Rashi commentary, is a clear forerunner of the layout of the Second Rabbinic Bible. Here the basic mishnah is central (in red rectangle), as the biblical text is for the Rabbinic Bible. It is bordered by the gemara (blue rectangle), which contains the rabbinic commentary on the mishnah. These two elements make up the Talmud. But in addition, there is Rashi’s commentary (red right angle) on the two elements that form the Talmud.

Almost all the examples of manuscripts and incunabula that I found (see links to images in bibliography) show biblical text with one commentary, but in a number of cases there are more than one—the Latin Bible with the glossa ordinaria , an interlinear gloss, and Nicholas of Lyra, and, most directly related to the Rabbinic Bible, the edition of the former prophets with Kimhi and Ralbag.


Modern Miqra’ot Gedolot

The Second Rabbinic Bible was a great success among Jews and became the foundational edition from which many others developed over the centuries. The seventh edition, known as Kehillot Moshe (Amsterdam 1724-1727), introduced the first post-medieval commentators two hundred years later (Levy, 67). The Warsaw Miqra’ot Gedolot (published 1860-1868) included thirty-two commentaries (not all on the same books). Until the last part of the 20th century, miqra’ot gedolot of the 1900’s were photostatic reprints of 19th-century editions that became increasingly difficult to read. Finally in the 1980s and 1990s, two editions were begun that set out in new directions. Torah Hayyim (Pentateuch only) includes traditional commentators not present in earlier editions, has reset all text in square script, and uses a biblical text which is basically Leningrad with some editing and additions where the notations on the Aleppo Codex offer information. Unfortunately it, too, does not include the Masorah, so is a step backward in that respect. Miqra’ot Gedolot ha-Keter, a project of Bar-Ilan University under the direction of Menahem Kohen, uses the Aleppo Codex and its Masorah wherever possible, critical editions of the commentators and Targums, and also uses square script throughout. A very helpful innovation is Kohen’s key to the Masorah, which expands the references of the Mm and Mp. If only the Commentators’ Bible could have included all the elements of the Bar-Ilan edition, it would be utterly irresistible!

The Commentaries

Exegesis as conversation

There are two reasons in particular to welcome the publication of the Commentators’ Bible. While much, maybe most, of medieval exegesis has been translated into English, this is the first time, to my knowledge, that the layout of the great Rabbinic Bibles has been followed in an English translation. The impact of the layout, bringing to the same page commentators of different times and places who nevertheless were responding directly to each other’s arguments, is to reify

the Jewish concept that Torah study is a dialogue. One does not just read the Bible. Rather, one reads the Bible along with the various commentators, who disagree with one another on the meaning of each verse. The reader is drawn into the conversation, coming to his or her own opinion about who is right and who is wrong and what the Torah is really saying. Studying from a Mikraot Gedolot is like participating in a seminar led by a group of brilliant and contentious scholars. (Wylen, 156)

Anyone who follows this conversation on the page, a conversation which so graphically and lovingly embraces the biblical text, must come away with an appreciation of the space that was made for pluralistic interpretation. Ed Greenstein cites a midrash that begins with Ps 62.12:

One spoke God, two have I heard . . . [This means:] One verse has several meanings, but one meaning cannot emerge from two verses . . .

That is, if two verses seem to say the same thing, there must in fact be some difference between them, because the Bible packs its significance economically without wasting any words. The Midrash continues:

It was taught: (Like a) hammer shattering a rock. (Jer 23.29) Just as the hammer splinters into several sparks, so does one verse have several meanings.

Jeremiah had been speaking of prophetic revelation, which he likened to fire and the blow of a hammer. The rabbis transfer the verse’s contextual reference from the experience of revelation to the substance of revelation. That which is revealed, the sacred text, has many meanings. In the medieval period it was acknowledged that multiplicity in the Bible’s signification not only inheres in the nature of the text, but also results from divergent methods or dimensions of reading it. (Greenstein, 216)

The multiplicity of signification was acknowledged both in the variety of interpretation from different individuals applying the same methods and in the four recognized methods or dimensions of interpretation, peshat, derash, remez, and sod.

Peshat — The “simple” interpretation

Which leads to the second reason this publication is welcome: That is, it opens a window for the English-reading world to see what are in some ways the very modern sensibilities of the medieval commentators. The exegetes included in the first Rabbinic Bibles and for the most part, in all succeeding Rabbinic Bibles, make “sincere attempts to explain the text. While their levels of commitment to peshat vary, commitment to the centrality of the contents of the Bible does not” (Levy, 67).3

But the “commitment to the centrality of the contents” is exactly what peshat is about, as Greenstein explains:

Most secondary literature on Jewish exegesis defines peshat as the “simple,” “plain,” or “literal” approach, but these terms are misleading. The historical meaning of the biblical text may actually be complex and figurative, neither simple nor straightforward. (Greenstein, 219)4

The peshat recognizes and interprets metaphor and figurative language. It is derash that reads the text literally. Peshat is “sensitive to context, style, and grammar” and “should perhaps be glossed in English as the direct, contextual mode of exegesis, not ‘plain’ or ‘literal’” (Greenstein, 227, 220).

On the whole, the commentators in the Rabbinic Bible are committed to the peshat method of interpretation, and are even somewhat hostile or dismissive of esoteric forms of interpretation: Commenting on the phrase “very greatly” (במאד מאד) in Exod 1.7, ibn Ezra has this to say:

Those who are impressed by the fact that the numerical value of this expression in Hebrew, used in Gen. 17:20 with reference to Ishmael, is the same as that of “Muhammad”—what do they do with this verse, where exactly the same phrase is applied to Israel? God forbid that Moses should speak in numerological riddles! (CB Exodus, 4)

Sometimes, in fact, the commentary reads like a translator’s handbook, especially the comments of ibn Ezra, the grammarian (all examples from CB Exodus):

Exod 1.1 These are the names. Literally, “and these are the names.”

With Jacob. Including Jacob. The total of persons “of Jacob’s issue” (v.5) only makes 70 if Jacob himself is included in the total.

With his household. That is, his “issue.” Biblical Hebrew never uses the word “house” as a euphemism for “wife” the way rabbinic Hebrew sometimes does.

The same preference for peshat can be seen in the Bibles with Christian commentary printed around the time the Rabbinic Bible was made. There are numerous examples of Nicholas of Lyra’s widely-read commentary (postillae) printed with Bibles. He was a Franciscan and exegete in France (ca. 1270-1340) who, like the Jewish commentators of his time, was interested in the contextual meaning of the biblical texts. He knew Hebrew well and was influenced by Jewish interpretation from the Talmud to Rashi.

While the medieval commentators may begin to have a modern sound about them in their approach to exegesis, the anachronisms in Carasik’s adaptations of their commentary in the CB, although intentional on his part, are often jarring. It’s weird to hear Nachmanides make reference to the NJPS, even if you’re fully aware that he’s commenting on the issue about which NJPS has made a decision and not on the translation itself. Most of these could have been avoided if Carasik had decided to use English translations of the Targums rather than the JPS 1917 and 1985 Bible translations. That would have been the better choice for more reasons than this one. At the same time, Carasik provides succinct but very helpful explanatory remarks placing the commentators in their contexts, in a general way in the front and back matter, and specifically through footnotes in the body of the work.

Final Note

In 1991, Barry Levy made the hopeful statement that “It may be difficult to negotiate, but theoretically copyright holders could combine their interests and produce an English Rabbinic Bible” (78). The two volumes of the Commentators’ Bible, in spite of some deficiencies, are a good beginning to fulfilling this hope, and greatly increase the community of those students of Scripture who

can never . . . look at the gigantic Rabbinic Bible without feelings of reverence for, and gratitude to, Jacob b. Chajim Ibn Adonijah, who, being dead, yet speaketh. (Ginsburg, 14)



Hebrew editions

First Rabbinic Bible: ...ארבע ועשרים. Edited by Felix Pratensis. Venice: Bomberg, 1516-1517. With commentaries (one per book, in general) by Rashi, Kimhi, and others; no Masorah. Can be viewed online at: http://aleph500.huji.ac.il/nnl/dig/books/bk001725628.html

Second Rabbinic Bible: ...ארבע ועשרים. Edited by Jacob ben Hayyim ibn Adoniyah. Venice: Bomberg, 1524-1525. Increased selection of traditional commentaries, a more critically revised Hebrew text, the addition of the Masorah, and new wrap-around page layout. (Reprinted, with an introduction by M. Goshen-Gottstein. Jerusalem: Makor, 1972.) Can be viewed online at: http://aleph500.huji.ac.il/nnl/dig/books/bk001268184.html

Miqra’ot gedolot. 12 vol. Warsaw: Levensohn, 1860-1868. One of the largest of the many developments of the Second Rabbinic Bible.

Miqra’ot gedolot ha-Keter. Edited by Menahem Kohen. Ramat-Gan: Bar Ilan University Press, 1992-. A revised and augmented scientific edition of Miqra’ot Gedolot based on the Aleppo Codex and critical editions of the medieval commentators. Contents to date: 1. Joshua, Judges; 2. Samuel 1-2; 3. Isaiah; 4. Kings; 5. Genesis (2 v.) ; 6. Ezekiel; 7. Psalms (2 v.).

Torat Hayyim: hamishah humshe Torah . . .. Edited by Mordechai Breuer, Yosef Kafah, and Mordekhai Leyb Katsenelenbogen. Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav Kuk, 1986-. Pentateuch only.

English editions

The Commentators’ Bible: The JPS Miqra’ot Gedolot. Edited, translated, and annotated by Michael Carasik. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2005-. Two volumes, Exodus and Leviticus, published so far.

Soncino Books of the Bible: Hebrew Text, English Translation and Commentary. Edited by Abraham Cohen et al. London: Soncino Press. In the Soncino Chumash, first edition (1945-1952), and the other books, in the revised second edition (1980s and 1990s, although editions and impressions for each volume vary), the Hebrew text is presented in full, with English translation and a digest of medieval commentaries.

The Chumash: The Stone Edition. The Torah, Haftaros, and Five Megillos with a Commentary from Rabbinic Writings. Edited by Rabbi Nosson Scherman. Brooklyn, NY: Artscroll, 1993. Hebrew text with English translation, and digest of medieval commentaries.

Mikraot Gedolot: A New English Translation. Translation of text, Rashi, and commentary by A. J. Rosenberg. New York: Judaica Press, 1969- . Lacks Lev-Deut. Each volume displays on facing pages the Hebrew Miqra’ot Gedolot in photostatic copy on one side and on the other side English translations of the text, Rashi’s commentary, and selections from Ramban, Sforno, Rashbam, ibn Ezra, Talmudic and Midrashic sources, and other early commentaries.

Secondary Sources

Aronson, Ya’akov. “Mikraot Gedolot haKeter—Biblia Rabbinica: Behind the Scenes with the Project Team.” In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Convention of the Association of Jewish Libraries, Brooklyn, New York, June 20-23, 2004. http://www.jewishlibraries.org/ajlweb/publications/proceedings/proceedings2004/aronson.pdf. Accessed 4/9/2010.

Biblia Rabbinica Bombergiana, second edition.” Catholic Encyclopedia. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05286a.htm. Accessed 4/9/2010.

Ginsburg, Christian D. 1867. Jacob ben Chajim ibn Adonijah’s Introduction to the Rabbinic Bible, Hebrew and English; with Explanatory Notes. 2d edition. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer. http://books.google.com/books?id=pt0UAAAAYAAJ. Accessed 4/5/2010.

Greenstein, Edward L. 1984. “Medieval Bible Commentaries.” Pages 213-259 in Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts, ed. Barry Holtz. New York: Summit Books.

“Habermann, Abraham Meir.” “Bomberg, Daniel.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 4. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 52. Gale Virtual Reference Library. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?&id=GALE%7CCX2587503276&v=2.1&u=wisc_madison&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w. Accessed 3/31/2010.

Houtman, Cornelis. 1996. Exodus. Vol. 2. Chapters 7:14 – 19:25. Translated from the Dutch by Sierd Woudstra. Kampen: Kok Publishing House. (Example of a modern Christian scholar who regularly cites the medieval commentators in his commentary.)

Kaplan, Drew. “Drew Kaplan’s Blog, 13 April 2010.” http://drewkaplans.blogspot.com/. Accessed 4/22/2010.

Levy, Barry. 1991. “Rabbinic Bibles, Mikra’ot Gedolot, and Other Great Books.” Tradition 25.4:65-81.

Lockshin, Martin I. 1997. Rashbam’s Commentary on Exodus: An Annotated Translation. Atlanta: Scholars Press.

Rendsburg, Gary A. 1995. “Miqra’ot Gedolot Ha-Keter: Joshua-Judges by Menahem Cohen.” AJS Review 20.1: 172-175.

Schenker, Adrian. 2008. “From the First Printed Hebrew, Greek and Latin Bibles to the First Polyglot Bible, the Complutensian Polyglot: 1477-1517.” Pages 276-286 in Hebrew Bible / Old Testament: The History of Its Interpretation. Vol 2. From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Edited by Magne Sæbø. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Schiper, Ignacy Yizhak, and Bart Wallet. “Amelander (also Amlander), Menahem Mann ben Solomon Ha-Levi.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 38. Gale Virtual Reference Library. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?&id=GALE%7CCX2587500955&v=2.1&u=wisc_madison&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w. Accessed 3/31/2010.

Tov, Emanuel. 2006. “Hebrew Scripture Editions: Philosophy and Praxis.” Pages 281-312 in From 4QMMT to Resurrection-Mélanges qumraniens en hommage à Émile Puech. Edited by F. García Martínez et al. Leiden: Brill. Reprinted in: Tov, Hebrew Bible, Greek Bible and Qumran: Collected Essays, 247-270. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.

Toy, Crawford Howell, and Richard Gottheil. “Bible Editions.” Jewish Encyclopedia. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/. Accessed 4/10/2010.

Wylen, Stephen M. 2005. The Seventy Faces of Torah: The Jewish Way of Reading the Sacred Scriptures. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist.


Manuscripts (in chronological order)

Mark with commentary compiled by Victor of Antioch. Greek. Constantinople, 10th-11th c.

Matthew with glossa ordinaria and interlinear commentary, perhaps by Ralph of Laon. Latin. Northern France, perhaps Paris, ca. 1130–40. http://smu.edu/bridwell/publications/ryriecatalog/3_1.htm

Babylonian Talmud with Rashi. [Shabbat, folio 2a,b = pages 031V and 032R.] Vat. ebr. 127. <Germany>, second half of 14th century[?]. Accessed at the Online Treasury of Talmudic Manuscripts, http://jnul.huji.ac.il/dl/talmud/bavly/showbav.asp?mnusriptnum=0371_34&library=11_10&mishnanum=1&pereknum=002&masecet=12&p=2&libindex=11&manuscriptindex=16&masecetindex=1&perekindex=1

Print editions (in chronological order)

Psalms with Kimhi. Hebrew. Probably Bologna, 1477. The first book of the Hebrew Bible to be printed. http://www.loc.gov/rr/amed/guide/hs-books.html

Genesis with the glossa ordinaria and the interlinear gloss of Anselm of Laon. Latin. Strasbourg: Adolph Rusch for Anton Koberger, not after 1480. (First edition of Latin Bible with glossa ordinaria.)

Exodus with Rashi and Targum Onqelos. Hebrew. Bologna, 1482. The first complete printed Pentateuch. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/loc/Bologna.html

Wisdom with Nicholas of Lyra. Latin. Venice: Franciscus Renner, de Heilbronn, 1482. http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=1779676

Prologue to Luke with Nicholas of Lyra. Latin. Venice: Franz Renner, 1482–83.

Samuel with Kimhi. Hebrew. Soncino, 1485. http://www.jtsa.edu/prebuilt/exhib/firstimpressions/03.shtml

Isaiah with Kimhi. Hebrew. Soncino, 1486. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/loc/Great.html

Psalms with Kimhi. Hebrew. Naples: Joseph ben Jacob of Gunzenhausen, 1487. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/loc/Great.html

Canticles with commentary. Naples: Joseph ben Jacob Ashkenazi Gunzenhauser, 1487. http://www.sothebys.com/app/live/lot/LotDetail.jsp?sale_number=N08518&live_lot_id=30

Various pages from the Latin Bible with Nicholas of Lyra. Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1487. http://www.mccunecollection.org/Incunabula%20Book%20Biblia%20Latina.html

Humash with Targum Onqelos and Rashi. Hebrew. Híjar (Eliezer ibn Alantansi), for Solomon b. Maimon Zalmati, 1490. http://www.nawpublishing.com/expansionpages/ephemera/jewish_publishing.htm

Exodus with Rashi. Hebrew. Naples: Soncino, 1491. http://www.jtsa.edu/prebuilt/exhib/firstimpressions/06.shtml

Former Prophets with Targum Jonathan and Kimhi and Ralbag (Gersonides). Hebrew. Leiria: Dom Samuel de Ortas and Sons, 1494. http://www.kestenbaum.net/docs/Auction_30.pdf (page 36)

Numbers with the glossa ordinaria, interlinear commentary, and Nicholas of Lyra. Latin. Venice: Paganinus de Paganinis, 1495.

Ecclesiastes with Hugo of St. Cher. Latin. Basel: Johann Amerbach for Anton Koberger, 1498–1502. http://smu.edu/bridwell/publications/ryriecatalog/3_4.htm

Samuel-Kings. First Rabbinic Bible. Hebrew. Venice: Bomberg, 1517. http://www.loc.gov/rr/amed/guide/hs-books.html

Exodus. Second Rabbinic Bible. Hebrew. Venice: Bomberg, 1525. The entire edition can be viewed at http://aleph500.huji.ac.il/nnl/dig/books/bk001268184.html. The image shown is vol. 1, p. 161.


1 According to Levy (65), the first known occurrence of the singular form was in the 16th century, and apparently a straight calque of magna biblia, since a grammatical translation would have been מקרא גדול.

2 As listed under “Rabbinic Bibles,” Jewish Encyclopedia. Also described in Ginsburg, 6-7.

3 Levy notes that “No midrashim were published in the early Rabbinic Bibles, probably because those in control of the projects were not sympathetic to midrashic interpretation” (71).

4 Greenstein offers a number of reasons a preference for peshat may have arisen at this time: Islam’s emphasis on scripture as a fundamental object of study; the Talmud, in which derash predominated, already had a fixed editorial shape and was no longer open to development; the development of linguistic tools and rationalism, through Islam (220-222). See also Miriam Goldstein, “‘Arabic Composition 101’ and the Early Development of Judaeo-Arabic Bible Exegesis.” Journal of Semitic Studies 55/2 (2010): 451-478.

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Publication Notices


Bible Translation

Publications by UBS Consultants, Past and Present

Simon Crisp. 2009. “Helps for Readers in Manuscripts of the New Testament: An Ancient Resource for Modern Translators.” Journal of Biblical Text Research 2009.25.

Two from Daud Soesilo: A dictionary entry about Christianity in Timor Leste (East Timor) in The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity (ed. D. M. Patte; Cambridge University Press, 2010); and “Terjemahan Alkitab ke dalam Bahasa Melayu dan Indonesia: Masa Lalu dan Kini [Bible Translations into Malay and Indonesian: Past and Present],” pages 489-512 in Sadur: Sejarah Terjemahan di Indonesia dan Malaysia (ed. H. Chambert-Loir; Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia, 2009, released 2010). The volume is a collection of articles originally presented at a conference on the history of translation in Indonesia and Malaysia at the École française d’Extrême-Orient in Paris. Lourens de Vries also has an article in this collection.

John Elwolde: “Sirach 51:15a (19b-20a): Towards a Text-Critical and Lexicographical Solution,” pages 47-65 in Sacred Text: Explorations in Lexicography (ed. J. P. Monferrer-Sala and Á. Urbán; Peter Lang, 2009); “The Hodayot’s Use of the Psalter: Text-critical Contributions (Book 2: Pss 42-72),” pages 79-99 in The Dead Sea Scrolls in Context: Integrating the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Study of Ancient Texts, Languages, and Cultures (ed. A. Lange, E. Tov, and M. Weigold; Brill, 2010); “The Hodayot’s Use of the Psalter: Text-Critical Contributions (Book 3: Pss 73-89),” Dead Sea Discoveries (2010) 17: 159-79.

Daniel See. 2010. “Rethinking the Documentary Hypothesis,” China Evangelical Seminary Journal 3: 248-278.

Daniel See and Simon Wong. 2010. “A Study on Feng Xiang’s Translation in Relation to the Phenomena of Chinese Bible Translation.” CGST Journal 48: 31-61.

Anwar Tjen. 2010. On Conditionals in the Greek Pentateuch: A Study of Translation Syntax. T & T Clark. This book, T.’s doctoral thesis, takes the underlying Hebrew as the point of departure in close comparison with the resultant translation, with the purpose of examining major features in the translators’ handling of conditionals. These include the rendering of verbal and non-verbal forms in the protasis and apodosis, the question of sense-division between the two constituent clauses, the influence of genre or discourse type and interference from the underlying form or structure. Analysis of the resultant translation displays features that are natural Greek, on the one hand, and features that betray the character of “translation-language,” on the other hand, owing to interference from the source text.

The Indonesian Bible Society has just published the Indonesian Study Bible, an adaptation of CEV Learning Bible, using the Indonesian New Translation version.

Philip H. Towner. 2010. “The Nida Institute: Translating (Sacred) Texts in a Trans-disciplinary Way.” In Other Words 35: 57-59. The founding of the Eugene A. Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship in 2001 opened a center of scholarship and research at the American Bible Society. The Institute continues the 194-year-old ABS tradition of Bible translation, but also has set in motion fresh thinking about translation in general.

John D. Ekem. 2010. Early Scriptures of the Gold Coast (Ghana): The Historical, Linguistic, and Theological Settings of the Gã, Twi, Mfantse, and Ewe Bibles. American Bible Society/St. Jerome/Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura. Ekem, a former translation consultant and now academic dean of Trinity Theological Seminary in Accra, gives an account of African and European missionary Bible translation into the four main languages of Ghana and Togo from the 15th c. to the 20th.

Yelena Kolyada. 2009. A Compendium of Musical Instruments and Instrumental Terminology in the Bible. Equinox. Translated from Russian by the author with the assistance of David J. Clark. This compendium draws on many sources, including ancient and modern translations of the Bible and scholarship from rabbinic to modern. Chapter 1 describes the background of Hebrew instrumental music, its origins and links with neighboring cultures, the role of instruments in the life of ancient Israel, and the system of musical education. Chapter 7 traces the understanding of Hebrew musical instruments in post-biblical times, showing their new symbolic significance in the writings of the Church Fathers and in the comments of medieval and Renaissance exegetes. The intervening chapters are arranged by type of musical instrument (strings, winds, percussion), with two chapters on terminology. Illustrations, glossary, and various useful appendixes.

General Issues

Joel M. Hoffman. 2010. And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning. St. Martin’s Press. H. highlights inaccurate or misleading English translations from the KJV to modern translations and shows how advances in the understanding of translation can be applied to Bible translation to give readers a better idea of what the Bible means.

Christian M. Smerick. 2009. “‘And G-d Said’: Language, Translation, and Scripture in Two Works by Walter Benjamin.” Shofar 27.2: 48-68. S. articulates Benjamin’s theory of language as expressed in his essay “On Language as Such and on the Language of Man,” drawing attention to the theological underpinnings of his theory, then turns to his work on translation, “The Task of the Translator,” to demonstrate how Benjamin’s theologically-driven understanding of language makes the translation task central and essential.

Mara H. Benjamin. 2009. Rosenzweig’s Bible: Reinventing Scripture for Jewish Modernity. Cambridge University Press. B.’s reading of Rosenzweig’s The Star of Redemption places it at the beginning of an intellectual trajectory that culminated in his translation of the Bible. She argues that Rosenzweig’s challenged his readers to encounter the biblical text as revelation, reinventing both the Bible and the notion of a scriptural text, in order to invigorate Jewish intellectual and social life, but did so in a distinctly modern way, ultimately reinforcing the foundations of German-Jewish post-Enlightenment liberal thought. The book illuminates the complex interactions that arise when modern readers engage the sacred texts of ancient religious traditions.

Sol Scharfstein. 2008. Torah and Commentary - The Five Books of Moses: Translation, Rabbinic and Contemporary Commentary. KTAV Publishing House. This translation in what is described as “easy-to-read” language is accompanied by classical and contemporary rabbinic commentary.

Emil A. Wcela. 2009. “What Is Catholic about a Catholic Translation of the Bible?” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 71.2: 247-263.

Susanne Scholz. 2010. “The Bible as ‘Men’s’ Word? Feminism and the Translation of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.” lectio difficilior: European Electronic Journal for Feminist Exegesis 2010 (1). The article assesses the debate about “gender-neutral” Bible translations into English. Since the debate is hermeneutic and based on social and political differences, linguistic principles of translation come into conflict with social-cultural ones. A summary of recent developments in translation studies indicates that verbal-linguistic translation strategies have been left far behind. S. describes various inclusive Bible translations, focusing on English and German, and illustrates the controversy with the example of Hosea 11.9. Available at http://www.lectio.unibe.ch/10_1/scholz.html.

Mary Phil Korsak. 2010. “Glad News from Mark: A Translation of the Greek Text.” In Other Words 35: 45-56. K. discusses the nature of the text, then looks at details of her translation, which attempts to bridge old and new approaches to the translation of Mark. In her words, “irregular grammatical forms, awkward constructions, blank spaces, rough-edged transitions and odd phraseology are all carried over from the source text to the new version” because “they bear witness to the history of the text.” The translation tries to bring out the oral features in the text and is formatted as free verse. Article available at the author’s website: http://www.maryphilkorsak.com/glad.html.

Specific Translation Issues

Joel S. Baden. 2010. “The Morpho-Syntax of Genesis 12:1-3: Translation and Interpretation.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 72.2: 223-237. The two main ways of understanding the verbs in Gen 12.1-3 are as successive and simultaneous—the choice with the least difficulties is the latter, which may be translated: “Yhwh said to Abram, ‘Go from your land and from the place of your birth and from the house of your father to the land that I will show you, and let me make you a great nation and bless you and magnify your name, and you be a blessing, and let me bless those that bless you and curse the one who curses you; then all the families of the earth will bless themselves by you.’”

Leigh M. Trevaskis. 2009. “On a Recent ‘Existential’ Translation of hātā’.” Vetus Testamentum 59.2: 313-319. T. examines N. Kiuchi’s proposal that hātā’ refers to an existential condition in which a person remains aware of his actions (hû’ yāda‘) but simultaneously unaware that they run contrary to YHWH’s will (ně‘lam min); thus hātā’ is not a conduct oriented notion (“sin”) but describes what happens within a person’s psyche. T. identifies contradictions in Kiuchi’s arguments which make his proposal implausible.

Avraham Lorberbaum Dafna. 2010. “Did the Wall of Jericho Collapse or Did the City Surrender?” Jewish Bible Quarterly 38.1: 36-40. According to D., when Josh 6.20 says “the wall collapsed,” it refers to the surrender of the city, not the literal collapse of the wall. The military strategy of circumnavigating the city over the course of a week was a form of psychological warfare so that at the sound of the shofar and the shouting, the guards deserted their posts. The verb usually translated “fall” can also be rendered surrender.

Robert Chisholm. 2010. “A Note on Judges 13:20-21: Sorting Out the Syntax.” Jewish Bible Quarterly 38.1: 10-12. C. supports the JPS translation of these verses against Y. Zakovitch, who sees an inconsistency in the phrasing. An analysis of the two closest syntactical parallels—1 Kgs 8.11-12 and 1 Kgs 22.49-50—undermines Zakovitch’s proposed redaction.

Esther H. Roshwalb. 2010. “Jeremiah 1:4-10: ‘Lost and Found’ in Translation and a New Interpretation.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 34.3: 351-376. The text is characterized by the use of stereotypical expressions, which have led exegetes to treat vv 4-10 as “the call proper,” and by the presence of two guiding themes—verbal skill and physical strength. R. presents a philological and thematic analysis, evaluates the contributions of multiple translations to our understanding of the text and offers a new translation, and proposes that this text does not fulfill the requirements of a call.

Jack P. Lewis. 2010. “The Lord Has Created a New Thing on the Earth.” Restoration Quarterly 52.1: 19-28. L. examines the phrase “a woman protects a man” (Jer 31.22b), surveying its use in early Christian and Jewish literature and interpretation in the Reformation and Post-reformation and in the English translation tradition. He notes that most studies of the last half century have rejected the virgin birth interpretation and that efforts to correct the text have lost support but are still reflected in NEB and REB.

Edward J. Bridge. 2009. “Loyalty, Dependency and Status with YHWH: The Use of bd in the Psalms.” Vetus Testamentum 59.3: 360-378. ‘bd is used as a metaphor for the voice in a number of psalms, effectively a substitution for “I” or “we,” and always connected with supplication and/or claims of loyalty to YHWH. It indicates that the relationship of the voice to YHWH is one of dependency, submission, and loyalty. When used to describe others, the term can indicate status, but always derived status.

Tzvi Novick. 2009. “‘She Binds Her Arms’: Rereading Proverbs 31:17.” Journal of Biblical Literature 128.1: 107-113. In the context of Proverbs 31.17, it is unclear what concrete action, if any, is involved in “strengthening one’s arms.” Most translators seem to take it as a metaphor for entering upon one’s task energetically. The semantic fields of binding and strength overlap here via the more general notion of being fast or secure. A concrete interpretation of the usage is very plausible: the woman does not “strengthen” her arms, but binds her sleeves or upper garment to free her arms for work.

Christopher Hays. 2009. “What Sort of Friends? A New Proposal Regarding רפאים and טפלים in Job 13:4.” Biblica 90.3: 394-399. Most translations of Job 13.4 have Job calling his companions something like “smearers of a lie” and “worthless physicians.” Given philological and comparative data, he may be comparing his friends to the Rephaim, and false gods, complaining that they have spoken falsely as sources of wisdom and would mislead their hearers—as the spirits of the dead were said to have done. The verse might thus be translated: “You, however, are blatherers of lies, and false oracles, all of you.” Article available at: http://www.bsw.org/Biblica/Vol-90-2009/What-Sort-Of-Friends-A-New-Proposal-Regarding-M-Y-Pr-And-M-Ylp-In-Job-13-4/27/.

Yoo-ki Kim. 2009. “The Function of היטב in Jonah 4 and Its Translation.” Biblica 90.3: 389-393. Most modern translations render היטב in Jon 4.4 as a predicate. However, traditional grammars take its function as an adverb that modifies the meaning of the verb, suggesting its translation as a degree adverb. Linguistic considerations support the latter option. This line of understanding opens up a possibility to interpret Yahweh’s question in Jon 4.4 not as a confrontation but as an expression of consolation and compassion toward his prophet. Article available at: http://www.bsw.org/Biblica/Vol-90-2009/The-Function-Of-B-Yh-In-Jonah-4-And-Its-Translation/26/.

Maarten J. J. Menken. 2009. “‘Born of God’ or ‘Begotten by God’? A Translation Problem in the Johannine Writings.” Novum Testamentum 51.4: 352-368. M. looks at the phrase εκ τoυ θεoυ γεννασθαι in the relevant Johannine passages in Bible translations and biblical studies to get an idea of the spread and the influence of the two possible translations of the title. Relevant lexical, grammatical, and exegetical considerations lead to the conclusion that the translation “to be begotten by God” is to be preferred.

Andrie B. Du Toit. 2010. “Some More Translation Headaches in Romans.” Verbum et Ecclesia 31, Article #385. Three problematic lexical items which occur repeatedly in Romans are discussed: συμμαρτυρέω, τὰ ἔθνη/ἔθνη, and λογίζομαι. Translators often attach too much weight to the preposition σύν in συμμαρτυρέω. In Rom 8.16, for instance, it would be more appropriate to translate συμμαρτυρέω in the sense of “affirm”: “[t]he Spirit of God affirms to our spirit that we are God’s children.” Despite all objections, rendering τὰ ἔθνη/ἔθνη as “Gentiles/Gentile nations” still remains the best option. In certain contexts in Romans, it would be advisable to translate λογίζομαι as “I realize/am convinced.” Pdf available at http://www.ve.org.za/index.php/VE/article/view/385.

J. David Miller. 2009. “Translating Paul’s Words about Women.” Stone-Campbell Journal 12.1: 61-71. Paul’s words about women are a hotbed of debate. Consensus in interpretation awaits consensus in translation. Summarizes three difficult translation issues from 1 Cor 11, 1 Cor 14, and Eph 5.

J. Lionel North. 2009. “‘Thou Shalt Commit Adultery’ (Exod. 20:14, AV 1631): A First Survey of Alteration Involving Negatives in the Transmission of the Greek New Testament and of Early Church Responses to It.” Journal of Theological Studies 60.1: 22-69. One-fifth of the 3,542 examples of the negative in the NT have suffered alteration, trivial or otherwise, through addition, omission, or substitution. Given the function of negatives in logic, alteration can involve contradiction. The Church Fathers had to face questions where dogma was at stake: did Paul believe that “we all shall not sleep” or “we all shall sleep,” “we all shall be changed” or “we all shall not be changed” (1 Cor 15.51)? Did death reign even over those who had not sinned like Adam (Rom 5.14)? The unstable negative was also noted in Jewish, classical, and legal circles. Analysis of over 700 examples may prove useful to textual critics, students of scribal habits, and philologists (and translators).

D. F. Tolmie. 2009. “The Interpretation and Translation of Galatians 5:12.” Acta Theologica 29.2: 86-102. As is evident from the various English translations, scholars do not agree on the meaning, rhetorical labeling, and translation of the wish expressed by Paul in Gal 5.12 (ὄφελον καὶ ἀποκόψονται οἱ ἀναστατοῦντες ὑμᾶς). After discussing these aspects, T. proposes the translation: “I wish that those who upset you would even have everything cut off!” Pdf available at: http://ajol.info/index.php/actat/article/viewFile/55446/43917

J. E. Wehrmeyer. 2009. “Where Have All the Bishops Gone?” Acta Theologica Supplementum 12: 106-129. Investigates how the Greek term episkopos and its related variants are translated in English Bibles. In translations of the middle of the 20th century, “bishop” was preferred. Translations from the latter half of the 20th century prefer the more generic term “overseer” or equivalent. The apparent neutrality of the more general term has theological implications, however. The NT episkopos functions similarly to its secular use in ancient times as well as its use in the LXX. The term boldly declares the colonization of the kingdom of men by the kingdom of God. The translation needs to be a term with equivalent semantic content. Pdf available at: http://www.ufs.ac.za/faculties/documents/journal/5/98/748/Wehrmeyer.pdf

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Bible – Texts, Manuscripts, Editions

Biblia Hebraica Quinta Volume 13: The Twelve Minor Prophets. 2010. Anthony Gelston, ed. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. The latest volume of BHQ covers Hosea-Malachi.

Hayim Tawil and Bernard Schneider. 2010. Crown of Aleppo: The Mystery of the Oldest Hebrew Bible Codex. Jewish Publication Society. The authors trace the history of the Aleppo Codex—the oldest and most authoritative and accurate extant Masoretic manuscript—which was completed around 939 in Tiberias and survived intact up until a 1947 pogrom in Aleppo, Syria, when the synagogue it was housed in was burned. The codex was thought to be destroyed, but in fact, a significant portion survived the fire and eventually ended up in Israel, where it became the basis for the text of the massive Hebrew University Bible Project. For a fine presentation of the codex and more information, see www.aleppocodex.org.

Gary D. Martin. 2010. Multiple Originals: New Approaches to Hebrew Bible Textual Criticism. SBL/Brill. M. seeks to connect methods of traditional textual criticism and those of orality and formulaic analysis. Examining practices of textual criticism across a wide range of texts and disciplines, he argues for the presence of multiple meanings and texts, in some cases intended, in other cases, falling within the limits of variability acceptable to those transmitted those texts.

The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition (SBLGNT). 2010. The Society of Biblical Literature, in association with Logos Bible Software, has just announced the release of a Greek New Testament, edited by Michael Holmes, the North American editor for the International Greek New Testament Project. The SBLGNT is freely available in a number of electronic formats (www.sblgnt.com) and for purchase as a print edition. The text differs from the Nestle-Aland/United Bible Societies text in more than 540 variation units.

Robert F. Hull, Jr. 2010. The Story of the New Testament Text: Movers, Materials, Motives, Methods, and Models. SBL/Brill. This introduction tells the story of the New Testament text from the earliest copies to the latest scholarly editions. H. introduces the people who developed the discipline of NT textual criticism, their aims, criteria, and techniques, the ancient sources for recovering the text, and the secondary sources and examples of best practices of textual criticism.

Early Christian Manuscripts: Examples of Applied Method and Approach. 2010. Thomas J. Kraus and Tobias Nicklas, eds. Brill. Nine essays on individual or sets of manuscripts present particular approaches to early Christian manuscripts and demonstrate how to deal with them methodologically. The topics range from the reconstruction of fragmentary manuscripts to the significance of amulets to the handling of the known manuscripts of a specific text or a whole archive of papyri.

D. C. Parker. 2009. An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and Their Texts. Cambridge University Press. This handbook provides a grounding in the study of the NT text as well as current developments in the field. It describes the manuscripts and the tools needed to study them, deals with approaches and techniques in textual criticism and editing, with guidance on the use of editions, and introduces the witnesses and textual study of each of the main sections of the New Testament. A companion website with full-color images provides illustrative material http://itsee.bham.ac.uk/parker/introduction/. (See also Edgar Ebojo’s review in The Bible Translator 61.3.)

Steve Delamarter and Melaku Terefe. 2009. Ethiopian Scribal Practice 1: Plates for the Catalogue of the Ethiopic Manuscript Imaging Project. Wipf and Stock. The series Ethiopic Manuscripts, Texts, and Studies offers catalogues of the Ethiopic Manuscript Imaging Project, whose purpose is to digitize and catalogue collections of Ethiopic manuscripts. The other title in this new series, also 2009, is Catalogue of the Ethiopic Manuscript Imaging Project Volume 1: Codices 1–105, Magic Scrolls 1–134, by Getatchew Haile, Melaku Terefe, Roger M. Rundell, Daniel Alemu, and Steve Delamarter. Photos of the mss can be viewed at http://www.hmml.org/vivarium/sgd.htm.

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Translation Studies

Translating the Sacred and Canonical.” 2010. In Other Words 35. This thematic issue includes articles by Phil Towner and Mary Phil Korsak (both cited above). In the article “‘Allah’ in translation: The feminine perspective,” Rim Hassen compares Thomas Cleary’s The Qur’an: A New Translation (2004) with Camille Helminski’s rendition, highlighting the female translator’s perspective. Although the issue of inclusive language in Quran translation has not yet achieved the same visibility as in Bible translation, signs of change can be seen in Cleary’s work, which does not use any pronouns to refer to Allah.

Translators and Their Readers. In Homage to Eugene A. Nida. 2009. Rodica Dimitriu and Miriam Shlesinger, eds. Éditions du Hazard. This volume, honoring Eugene A. Nida on his 95th birthday, offers testimonies by scholars whose views on translation and ways of teaching it were inspired by Nida’s work, as well as contributions in areas of translation research stimulated by Nida’s work. Contents:

  • “Eugene A. Nida: The Scholar and the Man: Profile of Eugene Nida,” Elena Nida
  • “Key Words and Concepts in E. A. Nida’s Approach to Translation and Their Further Development in Translation Studies,” Rodica Dimitriu
  • “How Eugene Nida Set the Ball Rolling,” Albrecht Neubert
  • “Nida in China: Influences That Last,” Tan Zaixi
  • “Eugene A. Nida and Translation Studies,” Cay Dollerup
  • “From One Mind to Another,” Harriet Hill
  • “Functions of Orality in the Translation of Biblical Texts. A Skopos-theoretical Perspective,” Christiane Nord
  • “Liturgy and the Sacred Word. Translating the Bible as an Audiomedial Text,” Mary Snell-Hornby
  • “Dictionaries and Bible Translation,” Phil Noss
  • “Minding the Receptor in Intercultural and Intracultural Communication,” Heidemarie Salevsky
  • “Traduire les textes sacrés: la méthode d’André Chouraqui par rapport à celle d’Eugène Nida,” Francine Kaufmann
  • “L’équivalence dynamique: une notion théorique?” Christian Balliu
  • “Translation and Editing as Mediated Discourse: Focus on the Recipient,” Margherita Ulrych
  • “Positioning Readers,” Brian Mossop
  • “Recipient-orientation and Metacognition in the Translation Process,” Gregory Monroe Shreve
  • “A Concern over the Target Text Reader in the Chinese Tradition,” Li Yunxing
  • “The Asymmetry Hypothesis in Translation Research,” Kinga Klaudy
  • “Illustrating Nida’s Precepts When Teaching Literature in Translation,” Marilyn Gaddis Rose
  • “‘All Things to All People’: On Nida and Involvement,” Anthony Pym
  • “The Place of the Readership in Ethical Translation,” Peter Newmark
  • “An Ethical Decision,” Andrew Chesterman


Critical Readings in Translation Studies. 2009. Mona Baker, ed. Routledge. This volume provides students with an overview of the latest developments in translation studies, organized by themes, including the politics and dynamics of representation, the positioning of translators and interpreters in institutional settings, issues of minority and cultural survival, and the impact of new media and technology. There are critical summaries of each of the readings, a set of follow-up questions for discussion, and recommended reading for each article. Table of contents: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415469555/#contents. Some of the essays:

  • “The Concept of Cultural Translation in British Social Anthropology,” Talal Asad
  • “Discourse, Ideology and Translation,” Ian Mason
  • “Translating the Bible in Nineteenth-Century India: Protestant Missionary Translation and the Standard Tamil Version,” Hephzibah Israel
  • “The Translator’s Voice in Translated Narrative,” Theo Hermans
  • “Ideology and the Position of the Translator: In What Sense is a Translator ‘In Between’?” Maria Tymoczko
  • “The Cracked Looking Glass of Servants: Translation and Minority Languages in a Global Age,” Michael Cronin
  • “Towards a Sociology of Translation: Book Translations as a Cultural World-System,” Johan Heilbron

Translation Studies. 2009. Mona Baker, ed. Routledge. This four-volume collection brings together a total of 74 foundational and more recent contributions to the field of translation studies (including the same essays found in the Critical Readings volume). Table of contents for all four volumes: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415344227/

Juliane House. 2009. Translation. Oxford University Press. A short but comprehensive introduction to translation theory and practice. The book looks at translation from different perspectives featuring critical discussions of equivalence in translation, translation evaluation, translation as intercultural communication, translation process research, translation and globalization, corpus studies in translation, and pedagogical uses of translation.

Handbook of Translation Studies. Volume 1. 2010. Yves Gambier and Luc van Doorslaer, eds. Benjamins. The HTS provides articles on a large range of topics, traditions, and methods in Translation Studies. It appears in both print and online formats. Table of contents available at: http://www.benjamins.com/cgi-bin/t_bookview.cgi?bookid=HTS%201. A few articles in the first volume:

  • “Functionalist approaches,” Christiane Nord
  • “Interpretive approach,” Marianne Lederer
  • “Norms of translation,” Christina Schäffner
  • “Relevance and translation,” Fabio Alves and José Luiz Gonçalves
  • “Religious translation,” Jacobus A. Naudé
  • “Sign language interpreting and translating,” Lorraine Leeson and Myriam Vermeerbergen

Text and Context: Essays on Translation and Interpreting in Honour of Ian Mason. 2010. Mona Baker, Maeve Olohan, et al., eds. St. Jerome. Fourteen essays examine different forms of translation and interpreting in a variety of cultural and geographical settings. The contributions combine close textual analysis with attention to issues of power, modes of socialization, institutional culture, individual agency, and accountability. Abstracts of the essays are available at: http://www.stjerome.co.uk/books/b/72/contents/.

Diaz Fouces, Oscar & Esther Monzó Nebot (eds.) Applied Sociology in Translation Studies / Sociologia aplicada a la traducció. (MonTI 2). Titles include:

  • “What Would a Sociology Applied to Translation Be Like? / Com és una sociologia aplicada a la traducció?” Oscar Diaz Fouces and Nebot Esther Monzó
  • “Translation ‘Going Social’? Challenges to the (Ivory) Tower of Babel,” Michaela Wolf. The “turns” or paradigmatic shifts in Translation Studies include the sociological turn, dealing not only with the networks of agents and agencies and their power relations, but also the social discursive practices that mold the translation process and strategies.
  • “Outline of a Sociology of Translation Informed by the Ideas of Pierre Bourdieu,” Jean-Marc Gouanvic. Bourdieusian sociology serves as a foundation for discussing questions often raised in translation studies—questions of ethics, censorship, resistance, power.
  • “The Sociology of Translation: Outline of an Emerging Field,” Esperança Bielsa Mialet. A sociological perspective reveals important aspects of the social context in which translation occurs. Looks at literary and news translation.

Translational Action and Intercultural Communication. 2009. Kristin Bührig, Juliane House, et al., eds. St. Jerome. Drawing on the concepts of functional equivalence, dilated speech situation, and intercultural understanding, this volume attempts to interrelate the following thematic strands: procedures of mediating between cultures in translational action, problems of intercultural communication in translational action, and insights into intercultural communication based on analyses of translational action. Abstracts of all the articles are available at: http://www.stjerome.co.uk/books/b/66/contents/. Two titles:

  • “Moving Across Languages and Cultures in Translation as Intercultural Communication,” Juliane House. Functional approaches to analyzing text and discourse can bridge the gap between cultural studies and linguistic approaches in translation studies. Functional approaches necessarily consider the embeddedness of linguistic units in cultural contexts and so serve as a useful instrument for looking at translation as intercultural communication.
  • “Text Topics and Their Intercultural Variation: A Sample Analysis Using Text Maps,” Heidrun Gerzymisch-Arbogast & Dorothee Rothfuß-Bastian. Text maps provide a methodological tool for describing the topic and discourse structure of texts and their potential intercultural variation. The notion of text map and the procedure for establishing text maps is introduced and exemplified.

Chinese Discourses on Translation: Positions and Perspectives.” 2009. Martha Cheung, ed. Thematic issue of The Translator: Studies in Intercultural Communication 15. There has been a series of movements to rediscover the roots of Chinese culture, to reconstruct a Chinese tradition, and to regain a Chinese voice in the field of translation studies as in other fields. This issue aims to bring contemporary Chinese discourses on translation to the attention of a wider readership. Abstracts of all the articles are available at: http://www.stjerome.co.uk/tsa/issue/30/. Two titles:

  • “Translation, Manipulation and the Transfer of Negative Cultural Images: A.C. Safford’s Typical Women of China,” Fang Lu.
  • “‘God’s Real Name is God’: The Matteo Ricci-Niccolo Longobardi Debate on Theological Terminology as a Case Study in Intersemiotic Sophistication,” Seán Golden.

Iria da Cunha and Mikel Iruskieta. “Comparing Rhetorical Structures in Different Languages: The Influence of Translation Strategies.” Discourse Studies 12.5: 563-598. The study reported in this article addresses the results of comparing the rhetorical trees of texts translated into two different languages. The trees were constructed by two annotators starting from Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST). Almost half of the annotator disagreement was due to the use of translation strategies that notably affect rhetorical structures.

“Oralité et écrit en traduction.” 2010. Yves Gambier and Olli Philippe Lautenbacher, eds. Glottopol: Revue de sociolinguistique en ligne 15. This issue is on the subject of orality in translation. The entire issue can be downloaded at http://www.univ-rouen.fr/dyalang/glottopol/numero15_html. Some of the articles:

  • “Oralité et écrit en traduction,” Yves Gambier & Olli Philippe Lautenbacher
  • “Le concept de traducteur-conteur,” Franck Barbin
  • “Traduire ou simuler l’oralité?” Odile Schneider-Mizony
  • “The voice et ses traductions: entendre des voix ou lire un ethos?” Myriam Suchet
  • “Représenter et traduire l’oralité - l’exemple de Entre les murs (F. Bégaudeau),” Lorella Sini, Silvia Bruti & Elena Carpi

Why Translation Studies Matters. 2010. Daniel Gile, Gyde Hansen, et al., eds. Benjamins. Twenty papers address the question. Topics include the cultural mediation role of translators, issues in literary translation, knowledge as intellectual capital, globalization through English and risks associated with it, bridging languages, mass media, corpora, training, the use of modern technology, interdisciplinarity with psycholinguistics and neurophysiology. Abstracts of the essays are available at: http://www.benjamins.com/cgi-bin/t_bookview.cgi?bookid=BTL%2088.

Phil Goodwin. 2010. “Ethical Problems in Translation: Why We Might Need Steiner after All.” The Translator: Studies in Intercultural Communication 16.1: 19-42. Beginning from Levinas, G. argues that translation is intrinsically ethical. The hermeneutical model of translation already contains within itself an ethics of translation, exemplified by Steiner’s hermeneutic of translation as described in After Babel (1975/1998). Steiner’s work can be regarded as a bridge between Levinas’ philosophical ethics and the practical issues of translation.

Translation Studies in Africa (IATIS Yearbook 2008). 2009. Judith Inggs and Libby Meintjes, eds. Continuum. The primary objective of this volume is to bring together research articles on translation and interpreting studies in Africa, written mainly, but not exclusively, by researchers living and working in the region. The focus is on the translation of literature and the media and on the uses of interpreting. Essays give a good idea of the state and direction of research, highlighting research that is not commonly disseminated in North Africa and Europe. Abstracts of all the essays are available at: http://www.iatis.org/content/pubs/yearbook/2008.php.

Translation and Cognition. 2010. Gregory M. Shreve and Erik Angelone, eds. Benjamins. Essays assess the state of the art in cognitive translation and interpreting studies, examining methodological innovation, the evolution of research design, and the integration of translation process research with findings in the cognitive sciences. Table of contents at: http://www.benjamins.com/cgi-bin/t_bookview.cgi?bookid=ATA%20XV.

Thinking through Translation with Metaphors. 2010. James St. André, ed. St. Jerome. Explores metaphorical figures used to describe the translation process, from Aristotle to the present, paying attention to the role of metaphor in shaping the way translation is understood. Abstracts of all the essays are available at: http://www.stjerome.co.uk/books/b/71/contents/.

The Translator as Mediator of Cultures. 2010. Humphrey Tonkin and Maria Esposito Frank, eds. Benjamins. In these essays from a conference at the University of Hartford a group of translators, linguists, and literary scholars exchange views on the power of translation to influence literary traditions and to shape cultural and economic identities. Abstracts of the articles are available at: http://www.benjamins.com/cgi-bin/t_bookview.cgi?bookid=WLP%203.

News & Notes

Upcoming conferences

At the annual SBL meeting this month, five special sessions will be held on “The KJV at 400: Assessing its Genius as Bible Translation and its Literary Influence.” Phil Stine will be chairing the sessions, and a number of Bible Society people will participate, including Simon Crisp, Roger Omanson, Kuo-Wei Peng (ABS), and Marlon Winedt. Bible Society presenters in other SBL sessions will include Ernie Wendland, James Maxey (ABS), Elsa Támez, Aloo Mojola, Harriet Hill (ABS), and Phil Towner (ABS). The Nida Institute of ABS is sponsoring a special lecture by Vincente Rafael, “The Babel of Monolingualism: Translation, American English and Empire.”

Ernie Wendland is also presenting a paper entitled “‘Hearing the Word of the LORD’ (Isaiah 66:5): Amplifying the ‘Orality’ of the Text in Translations of Scripture,” at the conference Research Models in Translation Studies II at the University of Manchester in May 2011. The conference is being hosted by the Centre for Translation & Intercultural Studies (University of Manchester) and by the Centre for Intercultural Studies (University College London). For more information: http://www.llc.manchester.ac.uk/ctis/activities/conferences/researchmodels2/

The Nida School of Translation Studies is accepting students for its May 2011 session in Misano, Italy. The theme of the two-week institute is “Translation and Ideology,” with featured lecturers Martha Cheung and Vincente Rafael. For more information: www.nidainstitute.org/TheNidaSchool/NidaSchool2011/


For an extensive listing of open access scholarly journals online, see the Directory of Open Access Journals.

New Voices in Translation Studies (http://www.iatis.org/newvoices/index.php): First published in 2005, this refereed electronic journal is co-sponsored by IATIS and the Centre for Translation and Textual Studies (CTTS) at Dublin City University. The aim of the journal is to disseminate original work by new researchers in Translation Studies to a wide audience. A regular feature of the publication is a section with abstracts of recently submitted Ph.D. theses on translation topics.

Theological Librarianship: An Online Journal of the American Theological Library Association (http://journal.atla.com/ojs/index.php/theolib/index): This open access journal from ATLA is in its third year of publication. Each issue includes a number of bibliographic essays, often at least one on a biblical topic, and critical reviews, including reviews of books in the field of biblical studies. Although the primary audience is librarians, Bible scholars and translation consultants may find these survey essays and reviews useful. Two bibliographic essays in the current issue (3.1) are:

  • “Considerations in Preparing a Biblical Bibliography: Case Study: The Scroll of Esther,” by Edith Lubetski and Meir Lubetski
  • “Early Christian Apocrypha: A Bibliographic Essay,” by William H. Shepherd.

End of TIC TALK 68, November 2010.

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