Studies in the Bible and Jewish Thought

By Moshe Greenberg | Go to book overview

The New Torah Translation
1963

In January, 1962, The Jewish Publication Society of America brought out a new translation of the Torah,1 the first part of a work that is planned to embrace the whole Bible. The range of sentiments that greeted this volume was predictable -- the matter touching so intimately upon individual habits and sensibilities. Yet it would bea misfortune if, in the heat and noise of public debate, the qualities of this monumental undertaking went unappreciated.

What did the translators 2 set out to do? As stated in their Preface, the general aim was to produce a translation as accurate and as intelligible as present-day knowledge permits. While the old JPS Bible 3 followed the style of the classic King James Version of 1611, being in essence but a revision of it, the new translation is a wholly fresh rendering of the Hebrew. Obsolete words and grammatical constructions were avoided. Idioms were transposed as far as possible into their normal English equivalents. "You" was employed even when referring to God, in contrast to the RSV,p0245.* which retained "Thou" in such cases (in spite of its general modernization)-a reverential mannerism foreign to the Hebrew, which uses no distinctive grammatical forms in addressing God. The common Hebrew particle waw, whose usual rendering "and" gives biblical English its peculiar quality, was translated "however," "yet," "when," and the like, as the sense required, or left untranslated when its force could be indicated otherwise (e.g., by subordination of clauses) or not at all.

____________________
p0245.*
Hereafter the old JPS Bible will be referred to as the OJPS: the new Torah translation, as the NJPS. The King James Version of 1611 will be referred to as KJV; its latest American revision, the Revised Standard Version of 1952, as the RSV.

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