Squirming at Horrible History of the Good Book

By Kelly, Stuart | Scotland on Sunday (Edinburgh, Scotland), May 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Squirming at Horrible History of the Good Book


Kelly, Stuart, Scotland on Sunday (Edinburgh, Scotland)


Squirming at horrible history of the Good Book The Murderous History Of Bible Translations By Harry Freedman Bloomsbury, £20

Just as translators have been persecuted, language itself has been martyred in the effort to bring the Bible to a wider audience, writes Stuart Kelly

@HARRYFREEDMAN1

'So liek teh Ceiling Kitteh lieks teh ppl lots and sez 'Oh hai I givez u me only kitteh and ifs u beleeve him u wont evr diez no moar, kthxbai!'". For the uninitiated, that is John 3:16 "translated" into LOLcat - unbelievably over three-fifths of the Bible can now be read in this asinine form. It doesn't get into Harry Freedman's brisk and intelligent guide to the frequently violent circumstances surrounding Biblical translation, though I would certainly consider at least a Chinese burn to those murdering the English language in this way.

Indeed, the "murderous" part of the title here is by far the least interesting, and one suspects a degree of "sexing up" given how careful and judicious much of the book actually is. The execution of William Tyndale is the most obvious intersection of translating and killing, and Freedland draws in, sometimes tangentially, events such as the suppression of the Cathars, the martyrdom of Jan Hus and the Münster Revolt. Often these involve the interpretation of a translation rather than a translation itself: a persistent concern is the anxiety of authorities over vernacular Bible reading, and the potential for readers to come to their own conclusion about verses like "to the pure all things are pure" or "neither said any of them that ought of the things which possessed was his own; but they had all things common" or "I came not to send peace, but a sword". One very interesting aside involves the Spanish Inquisition, who suspected converted Jews of using translations of the Old Testament to continue practising Judaism. It led to mass-burnings of the Bible - "a mountain of books" according to one Jesuit - a fact nobody seems to have thought ironic.

The earliest sections prove the most fascinating. Freedman, who has written an excellent book on the Talmud, doesn't just cover the most famous translations: the Septuagint, a Hebrew-Greek version of the Old Testament produced for the Library of Alexandria (and, according to Philo, by sequestered scholars who miraculously came up with identical versions); Origen's Hexapla, which concurrently featured the Hebrew, Hebrew written in Greek characters, the Septuagint and three translations by Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion; Jerome's Vulgate, first Greek to Latin and then Hebrew to Latin. He also delves into more esoteric versions, such as the Targum, a version in vernacular Aramaic when Hebrew had become a preserve of the elite, the Syriac Peshitta and the early Arabic translations by the Jewish Saadia ben Yosef and the Muslim Hunayn ibn Ishaq. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Squirming at Horrible History of the Good Book
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.