And God Said: How Trans­la­tions Con­ceal the Bible’s Orig­i­nal Meaning

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman
  • Review
By – October 10, 2011
There has been a sub­stan­tial need for an acces­si­ble, easy-to-read book for begin­ning stu­dents and laypeo­ple on the nature of trans­la­tion, and how it comes to be that read­ing Tanakh in Eng­lish or any oth­er lan­guage but the orig­i­nal Hebrew can some­times fail to accu­rate­ly con­vey the orig­i­nal spec­trum of mean­ings in a word or phrase, or can lose con­text in oth­er sens­es. In many ways, And God Said is pre­cise­ly that book, and is there­fore deeply wel­come as a valu­able tool for teach­ing. If it has a fault it is that it may be incite­ful of lit­er­ary ire when read by pro­fes­sion­als. Hoff­man does a mag­nif­i­cent job of con­vey­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties asso­ci­at­ed with text in trans­la­tion; unfor­tu­nate­ly, in demon­strat­ing those dif­fi­cul­ties with cer­tain words or phras­es, he presents his own trans­la­tions as entire­ly author­i­ta­tive, and in many cas­es there is room for dis­agree­ment on those points. That said, there is such a need for the book, and it is so well-con­struct­ed in many oth­er ways, that it is well worth acquir­ing and teach­ing from, even if the occa­sion­al grain of salt is needed.
Ami­tai Adler is a Con­ser­v­a­tive rab­bi. He teach­es and writes in Los Ange­les, CA, and has been pub­lished in Sh’­ma and Jew­ish Bible Quarterly.

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