Saturday, December 22, 2018

About time …

… After More Than Two Decades of Work, a New Hebrew Bible to Rival the King James. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Alter told me about his decision to reject one of the oldest traditions in English translation and remove the word “soul” from the text. That word, which translates the Hebrew word nefesh, has been a favorite in English-language Bibles since the 1611 King James Version. … “Well,” Alter said, speaking in the unrushed, amused tone of a veteran footnoter. “That Hebrew word, nefesh, can mean many things. It can be ‘breath’ or ‘life-breath.’ It can mean ‘throat’ or ‘neck’ or ‘gullet.’ Sometimes it can suggest ‘blood.’ It can mean ‘person’ or even a ‘dead person,’ ‘corpse.’ Or it can be ‘appetite’ or something more general: ‘life’ or even ‘the essential self.’ But it’s not quite ‘soul.’ ”

Well, "spirit," "breath," and "soul" were  pretty interchangeable terms back then. Though his  translation of the Jonah passages does sound more accurate.

1 comment:

  1. Robert Alter Bible: A Symposium
    By Ronald Hendel | Aviya Kushner | Shai Held | David Bentley Hart | Adele Berlin | Adam Kirsch
    Winter 2019