4.0176 Responses on Maimonides and on OT Translations (2/71)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 13 Jun 90 18:05:31 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0176. Wednesday, 13 Jun 1990.

(1) Date: Sun, 3 Jun 1990 09:14 IST (17 lines)
From: Marc Bregman <HPUBM@HUJIVM1>
Subject: Re: 4.0139 Queries -- RAMBAM (MAIMONIDES)

(2) Date: Wed, 13 Jun 90 14:53:51 EDT (54 lines)
From: Steve Mason <SHLOMO@YORKVM1>
Subject: English OT

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Sun, 3 Jun 1990 09:14 IST
From: Marc Bregman <HPUBM@HUJIVM1>
Subject: Re: 4.0139 Queries -- RAMBAM (MAIMONIDES)

In reply to Ronen Shapira's query about "Maimonides' Attitude to Old
Age", see Harry Fox, "Maimonides on Aging and the Aged in Light of the
Esotericist-Harmonist Debate", in *The Master as Exemplar: Studies in
Maimonides*, ed. Ira Robinson *et al*, Edwin Mellon Press, Spring/Summer
1990, pp. 317-381. Fortunately, Prof. Fox (of the University of
Toronto) is in Jerusalem; you can reach him by phone 02-225076 if you
have further questions. He is not sure whether the book has already
appeared or not. He also told me that in the above article he deals
with the sources about Rambam's influence as a physician on non-Jews and
that this article is part of a book-length study of the subject which he
is preparing.

Marc Bregman, Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem (HPUBM@HUJIVM1)
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------61----
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 90 14:53:51 EDT
From: Steve Mason <SHLOMO@YORKVM1>
Subject: English OT

What one considers the best English translation of the OT will depend,
of course, on one's criteria. I suggest the following: (a) the Revised
Standard Version has been, for some time now, as close as we come to a
standard for university work in biblical studies. It is generally
considered to be a solid, "critical" translation. It is widely used in
scholarly monographs and, in my experience, in undergraduate teaching.
It is available cheaply, in numerous formats, and several derivative
study aids (of a secular sort, including electronic and paper
concordances) also use it. Finally, the RSV is subject to continual
revision, to keep pace with changes in the language; a new version has
been released this summer. So, for a combination of accuracy and
versatility, the RSV is hard to beat.

(b) None of this means that the RSV is the *best* translation. The New
English Bible, New American Bible, and New International Version all
have their advocates and constituencies. But (i) the ancillary study
tools available for these versions are relatively meagre -- although the
(evangelical Protestant) NIV crowd are trying very hard to change that --
and (ii) none of these has been able to capture a significant share of
the N. American university market.

(c) There is, however, another possibility. The translation of the
Hebrew Bible done by the Jewish Publication Society, called _Tanakh: the
Holy Scriptures_ is, in my view, the very best alternative for university
work. It does not have the versatility of the RSV (by a long shot), BUT:
(i) it is an original translation of the Hebrew text, fully critical,
and free of the influence of the Christian translation tradition; (ii)
it is indeed not the "Old Testament", but the Hebrew Bible -- a self-
contained collection whose integrity is not conditioned by a Christian
interpretive appendix (the "New Testament"); (iii) the proper, original
order of the text (Torah, Prophets, Writings) is preserved, rather than
the Christian arrangement; (iv) the translation itself draws upon quite
recent insights into the development of the language from the Dead Sea
Scrolls, Ugaritic, Akkadian, and other sources; and (v) it is an elegant
translation, attractively laid out.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to studying the Bible in university is the
very familiarity (or perceived familiarity) of the text. Whatever you
recommend that they buy, a good portion of your students will roll up
with the old family Bible -- dog-eared, perhaps annotated, black-covered,
and probably in what one student called "the King James Virgin". I have
found that using the Tanakh in class helps to avoid this problem.
Students usually decide that the Tanakh is sufficiently different from
their familiar Bibles, in both translation and layout, as to warrant the
purchase of the new text. And that's where the real fun of learning
begins. Like the Corn Flakes ads say, they can "taste it again for the
first time".

Steve Mason
Humaniites, York U.