Page 45 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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BAMBERGER — TRANSLATIONS OF BIBLE
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world. The style is noble and melodious, not only when it retains,
but also when it departs from, the wording of AV. For instance,
in Psalm 23, where Leeser had “he guideth me in the tracks of
righteousness,” and RV renders. “He guideth me in the paths of
righteousness,” JPS translates — more correctly and no less beauti­
fully — “He guideth me in straight paths.”
JPS, like Leeser, follows the arrangement of books in the Hebrew
Bible and corrects Christological mistranslations. Isaiah 7.14
reads, “Behold, the young woman (not, a virgin) shall conceive
and bear a son.” Christian versions render Psalm 2.12, “Kiss the
son” — a tendentious reading not justified by the Hebrew. The
actual meaning of the passage is uncertain, due probably to
textual corruption; JPS renders, “Do homage with purity.”
The new Jewish translation was the first to make sense of I Sam­
uel 13.21, which had long been the despair of exegetes. The passage
reports the policy of the Philistines, who had removed all smiths
from the land of Israel, lest the Israelites make weapons. Con­
sequently, the latter had to take their farm-implements to the
Philistines to be sharpened. At this point the difficulty occurs,
chiefly because of the enigmatic Hebrew word
pirn.
This difficulty
was suddenly relieved when archeologists discovered a weight in­
scribed with this word; and JPS renders accordingly, “The price
of the filing was a pim (that is, two thirds of a shekel) for the mat­
tocks and for the coulters,” etc. The “American Translation”
and the Revised Standard Version have since adopted this render­
ing.
Earlier translations of the Bible had been printed according to
the verse-divisions, with each verse a separate paragraph. But
these divisions are altogether arbitrary; they often break up sen­
tences that belong together, and the reverse. RV marked a new
epoch in that prose passages were printed in paragraphs organized
according to sense, and poetic passages were printed as poetry.
For some reason, however, the revisers printed the prophetic books
as if they were prose, though a great part of their contents is not
only poetic but metrical. JPS followed the procedure more con­
sistently; all sections recognizable as poetry were printed as such.
I l l
The last few decades have seen a greatly increased popular
interest in the Bible. This interest has been stimulated in part by
the advances in biblical archeology and by the publicity that has
attended some of the discoveries. In part, the interest reflects the