Journal Article

Giving Yiddish the Devil: How Missionary Translation Reckons with Demons in the Yiddish New Testament

Mo Pareles

in Literature and Theology

Volume 26, issue 2, pages 144-159
Published in print June 2012 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online December 2011 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frr054
Giving Yiddish the Devil: How Missionary Translation Reckons with Demons in the Yiddish New Testament

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This article examines demonological vocabulary in Henry Einspruch's 1941 Yiddish New Testament translation. Missionary translators like Einspruch faced at least two major challenges in making Christianity legible in translation: emphasising the Hebrew Bible's importance to Christianity while flattening its cultural specificities, and rendering Christian concepts in the host vernacular without reifying spiritual structures embedded in the language. These two aims, usually complementary, are at odds in the Yiddish New Testament, which seeks both to re-Judaize Christianity (to attract Jewish converts) and to occlude Jewish folk demonology. In translating Mark 5:1–20, the story of the Gentile demoniac afflicted by the demon(s) Legion, Einspruch ingeniously faces this challenge and successfully imbues Jewish concepts with their own supersession.

Journal Article.  6932 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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