A Translator Culture

in Faithful Renderings

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780226745053
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226745077 | DOI:
A Translator Culture

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This chapter examines German–Jewish culture through the lens of translation, beginning with Moses Mendelssohn's Bible translation and ending with the translation theory of Walter Benjamin. While previous scholarship has tended to conceptualize German–Jewish translation in the light of cultural integration or symbiosis, it is argued that the formulation of translation as a variety of cultural encounter conceals a number of tensions and asymmetries in the German–Jewish translation project. Benjamin's model of an interlinear Bible translation, along with Buber and Rosenzweig's attempt at creating a German Bible in which the Hebrew original would somehow be visible, can be traced to philosophical and political circumstances comparable to those that shaped Aquila's work. The “translator cultures” of Hellenism and German–Jewish modernism divested the sacred tongue of what had been its correlate: untranslatability. In this cultural context, translating the sacred necessarily produces a difficult or incomprehensible text as guarantee that translation has not succumbed to the chimera of linguistic transparency or the demands of cultural assimilation.

Keywords: German–Jewish culture; translation; Moses Mendelssohn; Bible; Walter Benjamin; cultural encounter; Hellenism; modernism

Chapter.  20317 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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