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August 06, 1982 - Image 45

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-08-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, August 6, 1982 45

Bible Translation Completes 25-Year Taskfor Prof.

PHILADELPHIA — At
78, Prof. H.L. Ginsberg of
the Jewish Theological
Seminary is the senior
member of a team of Judaic
scholars that labored for
more than a quarter of a
century to produce the first
translation of the Bible by a
committee of scholars from
the original Hebrew into
the vernacular in 2,300
years.
For this concluding phase
of the project, Dr. Ginsberg,
o retired last September
Sabato Morais professor
of biblical history and liter-
ature at the Seminary,
edited the Five Megillot.
These volumes — The Song
of Songs, Ruth, Lamenta-
tions, Ecclesiastes and
Esther — together with the
Book of Jonah, were corn-
plete in 1969. The megillot
have b-e-erfin-corputated iritb
the current JPS translation
of "The Writings."
Prof. Ginsberg's involve-
ment with the project dates
back to its inception, when
he joined the Torah Com-
mittee in 1956. Translation
of "The Torah," first of the
three-volume series, was
completed in 1963. Sub-
sequently, Prof. Ginsberg
served as chairman of the
committee of translators for
"The Prophets (Nevi'im),
the second volume, pub-
lished in 1978.
When work first began
in translating "The To-

PROF. GINSBERG

rah," Dr. Ginsberg re-
called recently, the origi-
nal concept had been to
revise and bring up to
date the 1917 JPS trans-
lation, which itself was
essentially a revision of
earlier translations. It
soon became evident,
however, that much-more
than a revision was
needed. A new transla-
tion was required, one
that would render the
traditional text in a mod-
ern English idiom.
"We had to feel our way.
We had to liberate ourselves
from the burden of tradi-
tional translation and de-
cide just what tone would fit
the subject," Prof. Ginsberg
said. "We wanted to make
our translation as intelligi-
ble as possible for the gel-
neral reader while retain-
ing the meaning and flavor
of the original text."
All the thees and thous

Ben-Gurion's 1944 Prophecy

JERUSALEM — Israel's
first prime minister, David
Ben-Gurion, was one of the
greatest figures in Zionist
history. His unique combi-
nation of vision and action
finds expression in the fol-
lowing excerpts from his
1944 speech entitled "The
Imperatives of the Jewish
Revolution":
"The Jewish Revolution
is not the first or only one in
the history of the world, but
it is perhaps the most dif-
ficult . . . all other revolts,
both past and future, were
uprisings against a system,
against a political, social or
economic structure. Our
revolution is directed not
only against a system but
against destiny, against the
unique destiny of a unique
people.
"This Jewish people
preserved its values and its
prophetic hopes and these,
in turn, preserved it. These
intangibles were the source
of the morale which enabled
us to withstand the pressure
of the mighty empires on
our borders and to
feguard our unique char-
ter.
"The very uniqueness of
the Jewish people became
the power by which it has
left its mark on the history
of man and by which it con-
tinues even now to be a
creative force in the world.
"Yes, individuals may
have surrendered and
left our ranks — but the
nation as a whole neither
surrendered nor lost
heart ... resisting fate is
not enough. We must
master our fate, we must

--

take destiny into our own
hands. This is the doc-
trine of the Jewish revo-
lution — not surrender to
the Galut (exile) but make
an end of it . . in a word,
to achieve independence.
"The first imperative of
the Jewish revolution is,
therefore — to guard jeal-
ously the independence of
our movement . . . the sec-
ond indispensable impera-
tive is (to maintain) the
unity of its protagonists .. .
the third, and perhaps most
important, is halutziot
(pioneering).
"No greater or more ur-
gent task awaits our youth
leadership than ingather-
ing and resettlement . . . but
even personal commitment
is not enough, you must be
the nucleus for enlisting
Jewish youth throughout
the country . . . make
pioneers of the youth of our
country. This is the greatest
and most urgent need of the
Jewish revolution."

were dropped immediately
and the modern English
idiom was adopted. "It
found favor in his eyes" be-
came "he approved."
This philosophy was
adopted by the committee
that translated "The
Prophets" and "The Writ-
ings"; the latter covers the
period from earliest pre-
exilic times to the Second
Century CE. "The transla-
tion of Ecclesiastes and
Esther are different from
any pervious versions," Dr.
Ginsberg declared. "Esther
is an extravaganza. Purim
was meant to be a spoof.
This translation reflects the
essence and spirit of the
spoof. The style and flow of
the story is captured by the
use of the modern English
idiom."
Similarly, Dr. Ginsberg
explained, the principal
terms of Ecclesiastes are
translated differently. Its
opening statement, tradi-
tionally translated as
"Vanity of vanities, all is
vanity," now becomes
"Utter futility, utter futil-
ity, all is futile."
"The literal rendering
fails to convey the current
nuance," Prof. Ginsberg
noted. "The basic point
being made by the author is
that there is no use concen-
trating on the acquisition of
worldly goods since all of
life, ultimately, is futile."
Another example cited by
Dr. Ginsberg comes from
the ancient Hebrew love
poem, Song of Songs, where
an earlier literal transla-
tion from the Hebrew reads,
"My beloved put forth his
hand through the latch and
my bowels moved for him."
As Dr. Ginsberg noted, "It
was the author's obvious in-
tent to portray an emo-
tional, rather than a biolog-
ical, response." This is evi-
dent from the new JPS
translation, which reads
"and my heart was stirred

and his

tumult."
For Prof. Ginsberg, to-
gether with his colleagues
on the translation commit-
tees, the publication of "The
Writings" represents the
culmination of a lifetime of
scholarly accomplishments.

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