The Bible's Many Voices

The Bible's Many Voices

The Bible's Many Voices

The Bible's Many Voices

Synopsis

The most common English translations of the Bible often sound like a single, somewhat archaic voice. In fact, the Bible is made up of many separate books composed by multiple writers in a wide range of styles and perspectives. It is, as Michael Carasik demonstrates, not a remote text reserved for churches and synagogues but rather a human document full of history, poetry, politics, theology, and spirituality. Using historic, linguistic, anthropological, and theological sources, Carasik helps us distinguish between the Jewish Bible's voices--the mythic, the historical, the prophetic, the theological, and the legal. By articulating the differences among these voices, he shows us not just their messages and meanings but also what mattered to the authors. In these contrasts we encounter the Bible anew as a living work whose many voices tell us about the world out of which the Bible grew--and the world that it created.

Excerpt

What is the very first thing that the Bible says, the first words that the Bible “speaks” to us? Even in an era when familiarity with the Bible is no longer taken for granted, most people still have an answer for this question: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” But the Bible doesn’t say that at all. What the Bible says is this:

b’reishit bara elohim et ha-shamayim ve-et ha-aretz

It’s Hebrew, not English. It may sound foolish to emphasize that the Bible says something in Hebrew rather than those English words that we all know. But it’s not just a trivial point. Translations are never able to give you everything that you’d get from the original text. And translations of the Bible, as we’ll see, hide some things that the translator of a modern novel or poem doesn’t have to deal with. We’ll meet some of those features shortly. But before we begin to discuss the many voices in the Bible itself, let’s look for a moment at some of the different English voices in which we hear the Bible today.

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