Monday, 25 June 2012


During our Pentateuch oral exam, Dcn. Koet offered the opinion that the original Vulgate (St. Jerome’s translation) is much more interesting than the New Vulgate, a ‘compromise translation’ arrived at by voting. This Sunday, in the enjoyment of tranquillity, I read Genesis 1-3 in the Buber/Rosenzweig translation, and now I realize why Scripture translations should be made by one or two poets, not by committees.

This translation tries to be as faithful as possible to the oddities of the Hebrew original, which engenders turns of phrase like ‘From all the trees in the garden you shall eat, eat’ and ‘On that day you shall die, die’. For once, a Bible that reads like ancient poetry!

Grammar is stretched (the way Jesus did) in sentences like: ‘And God saw that it is good.’

The same goes for God’s and man’s naming activity. The word ‘call’ retains its strength through the skillful use of interpunction: ‘And God called the light: Day! And the darkness he called: Night!’

To me, the most striking thing (though I have not yet plumbed its full meaning) is that when God tells man, ‘Dust you are and to dust you shall return,’ he responds by calling his wife: ‘Chawwa (Eve), Life!’

1 comment:

  1. I love what you highlighted with regard to man's response. Perhaps from the very beginning he understood that though he would die, he could still live on through his children. Even as his life dwindled toward dust, he saw hope in the fruit that his wife might bear.