Page 47 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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BAMBERGER — TRANSLATIONS OF BIBLE
39
mechanical literalism has continued to cause confusion. Exodus
35.25 reads in JPS, “And all the women that were wise-hearted
did spin with their hands.” To us, the expression “wise-hearted”
suggests intellectual and emotional maturity. But all the sentence
means is that the women who were skilled spinners contributed
their services.
The demand for a more adequate Jewish translation has been
reinforced by the success of the RSV; and the Jewish Publication
Society has acceded to this demand. It is characteristic of the
change in the times that the funds for this new undertaking are
being secured, not from a few wealthy benefactors, but from a
large segment of the American Jewish public.
IV
The company of scholars who produced the RSV “Old Testa­
ment” included a professing Jew — something new in the history
of Christian Bible translations. Dr. Harry M. Orlinsky, Professor
of Bible at the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
occupied this novel role. Thereby he not only gained experience
in the practical problems of translation, but also reached the con­
viction that there is both room and need for a revised Jewish
version. It was most fitting, therefore, that he be given the major
responsibility for preparing the new JPS translation.
Dr. Orlinsky, be it noted, was a pupil of Max Margolis. Unlike
his predecessor, however, he has been provided with more expert
assistance.3 The translation committee includes two other eminent
specialists in Bible, Professor Ephraim A. Speiser of the University
of Pennsylvania (likewise a disciple of Margolis, and also a teacher
of Dr. Orlinsky), and Professor H. L. Ginsberg of the Jewish
Theological Seminary of America. In addition, the Jewish Publi­
cation Society coopted the services of Rabbi Max Arzt (conserv­
ative), Rabbi Harry Freedman (orthodox), and the writer (reform)
— not, however, as official representatives of their “denomina­
tions.” Dr. Solomon Grayzel, the learned and genial editor of the
3 This is said w ithout slight to the 1917 comm ittee, all o f whom were scholarly
men. Schechter was a great master o f Rabbinics; Kohler (who had published some
biblical studies in his younger days) was a distinguished theologian. But Margolis
was the only professional Bible-scholar in the group. Incidentally, this comm ittee,
though three o f its members officially represented the Central Conference o f Amer­
ican Rabbis (reform), carefully avoided any sectarian positions. It should be
noted that a number o f orthodox scholars undertook to prepare the translation o f
individual books for this version.