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Volokh Conspiracy

More Reviews of Genesis 1-11

"A serendipitous experience"


Readers of the Volokh Conspiracy will know Genesis 1-11: A New Old Translation for Readers, Scholars, and Translators (with John F. Hobbins) from an earlier series of posts. Several months ago I also mentioned a couple of reviews. Three new reviews have just been published.

First, in the Book List for the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Robert P. Gordon writes:

The introductory sections make important points about the practice of translation, without being at all technical. The bulk of the volume is titled 'After the Translation', and the longest section within it consists of notes justifying the choices made by the translators. A great deal of attention is given to the history of interpretation, both Jewish and Christian, with a particular focus on ancient and early modern translations. While not every textual or translational issue within Genesis 1–11 is addressed, reading the notes becomes quite a serendipitous experience: one never quite knows what kind of nugget is about to appear.

Gordon concludes: "Even amid the continuing deluge of studies of Genesis 1–11, this will prove a refreshing read, with most to offer on how precisely one should render the text in the light of the many points—linguistic, cultural, historical, macro-contextual, aesthetic and other—that the translators raise for discussion."

Second, in the Association of Jewish Libraries' Reviews, David Tesler notes our attempt to show deliberate repetition, our "nod toward tradition," and our attention to "the reception of Genesis as scripture." He commends the book: "This translation of Genesis 1-11 is an excellent resource for the interested layman and scholar alike."

Third, in The Christian Century, James C. Howell wrote "Two new (very different) Old Testament translations", a review article on our book and John Goldingay's The First Testament. Howell discusses a number of specific translation choices, and he writes:

Over the years, I have reviewed several translations in these pages. These two new ones could not be more different from one another in style, results, packaging, purpose, and intended use. Samuel Bray, a professor of law, and John Hobbins, a pastor and scholar, provide a lovely rendering of Genesis 1–11. They also provide much more, as the actual translation of the text fills only 19 of the book's 326 pages. Their introduction is a wise and eloquent reflection on the art of translation and what is at stake in approaching it. Their extensive notes not only explain why they translated the way they did but also function as a fairly profound commentary on the text itself.