Monday, March 23, 2015

This sounds exciting!

The translator in me is positively giddy at reading this review of the NET Bible.

There will always be some discord over the best way to translate books of the Canon. The religious impulse will always seek a translation of Scripture that, in one way or another, aspires ot the heights of the religious imagination. It will seek a translation that fully demarcates language and literature that is profane and is itself a singular repository of the sacred. Such a Bible would be designed to raise one to lofty heights of prayer and communion.

Yet, the success of the historical critical method has render such an aim and scope obsolete. The increasing burden on the shoulders of translators is to create an edition that reveals the world behind the text and the intentions of the original author.

In some cases, there is increasing relization that perhaps the next step is to reveal the text behind the text by means of judicious translation notes. Mitch Dahood's commentary on the Psalms comes to mind. These volumes were controversial from the moment they rolled off of the presses and remain so. Dahood was Jesuit priest and a linguistic genius who reconstructed the text of the Psalms in his three volume commentary on the basis of Akkadian and other adjacent linguistic parallels to Hebrew. His results may have been excessive, but no one familiar enough with the ancient languages and sources seriously question if other ancient literature lay behind the Judeo-Christian Bible.

One would be hard pressed to find a scholar who shuns the notion that the combat myth of Marduk and Tiamat is not burried within the creation of account of Genesis 1. One of the challenges for Christianity in the third millenium is to determine how such data ought to be leveraged when producing a translation of Scripture or commenting upon the text. I for one think editions like the NET Bible get it right. The first aim of a translation of scripture ought to be to make it scholarly. All other concerns need to be addressed after the primary crterion is met.

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