Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Translating the Bible from the 7th to the 17th Century

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Translating the Bible from the 7th to the 17th Century

Article excerpt

Lynne Long, Translating the Bible from the 7th to the 17th Century, Ashgate New Critical Thinking in Theology and Biblical Studies (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001). viii + 230 pp. ISBN 0-7546-1411-5. L"40.00.

This book uses the discipline of translation theory to focus on the issues involved in translating the Scriptures. The emphasis is on English activity in the field, from Bede and Caedmon through to the making of the King James Bible. The material is, on the whole, less novel than the fact that it is mustered in one place, as a case study of the various ways in which it has been thought appropriate to render a sacred text into the vernacular.

This is perhaps more helpfully illustrated through quotations from contemporary commentators, and Lynne Long's own close reading, than through any of the theoretical generalizations on display. Theory should be a systematic consciousness of the premisses behind one's scholarly activity, rather than a means of anxiously authorizing the self-evident; and the need for a specific translation theory is not always apparent in Long's argument. Is it particularly helpful, for instance, to invoke the notion of polysystems when making the uncontroversial point that biblical translation needs to be seen in the context of other literary, political, legal, and historical factors?

Nevertheless, this is a well-structured, clearly presented, and scrupulously even-handed survey of Anglo-Saxon, medieval, and early modern Bible translation, which is potentially of use within a wide variety of disciplines. For the most part, it is very undergraduate-friendly too; though it would have been even more accessible if Long's determination to concentrate on translation issues had not sometimes resulted in a failure to explain the theological points being made. …

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