Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Schocken Bible Awakens Readers to Rethink Ancient Text

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Schocken Bible Awakens Readers to Rethink Ancient Text

Article excerpt

An internationally-known Shakespeare professor,

wearied by his departmental duties, once remarked

to me that the King James Bible -- translated by a group

of 47 scholars -- was the only good work ever done by a

committee.

I don't know much about the committee part, but I'm certainly

grateful for their collaboration. That book, more than any

other, has shaped my ear as a writer.

So two recent stories I read came as a shock to me.

In Story No.1, a national survey querying Presbyterians

about the Bible indicated that two-thirds of the pastors

preferred the Revised Standard Version or New Revised Standard

Version of the Bible. And while the King James Version came

in first with members, it had a very slim lead, just 28

percent.

My initial reaction to this is one of great loss. I want

to write some kind of cultural jeremiad (many decades too

late) decrying the loss of this incomparable work of

literature.

To me, the King James translation is like a mighty ocean

that changes with the tides, sometimes giant waves crashing

with sound, sometimes the gentlest rocking of water, lulling

us with its sweet familiarity.

In my mind, no other translation is the pure poetry that

exalted me when, in elementary school, we memorized psalms

as well as Shakespeare.

But on the other hand ...

Yes, on the other hand is Story No.2, a Universal Press

news service feature by Julia Lieblich.

It reveals that yet-another translation of the Bible

has recently been published.

And from what I've read of it so far, I'm ready to take

back everything I just said in the paragraphs above.

I should probably admit that even before I read some

excerpts, I was in love with the translator because he managed

to miss his publishing deadline by more than a decade. My

kind of guy.

His name is Everett Fox and after 27 years of work, Schocken

Books has published The Schocken Bible , his translation

of five books of Moses.

Fox, who's now director of the Jewish Studies Program

at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., was 21 when he

came across a Hebrew-to-German translation by 20th century

Jewish philosophers Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig --

a translation the Nazis had called an "example of how Jews

were destroying German culture. …

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