Jonathan Norton on Paul, Faith, the Law, and Palestinian Judaism

Dr Jonathan Norton presented the following papers at the Heythrop Centre for Textual Studies, Heythrop College, University of London, on the topic of Paul, Faith, and the Law – issues which have been at the centre of the so-called “New Perspective on Paul” since the publication of E.P. Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977).

“Paul and Palestinian Judaism Forty Years On”, on May 27, 2015.

Part One:

Part Two:

“Reading Romans for Rhetorical Coherence”, on June 3, 2015.

Part One:

Part Two:

The Signs of the Times – Heythrop College Colloquium on Translation 2013

Videos are available on YouTube from a colloquium held at Heythrop College, Septermber 9-10, 2013: “The Signs of the Times: Translation of the Bible and Beyond”.

Can a translation really be faithful to the original? The question seems simple. But the answers given by experts are remarkably divergent. Some consider fidelity in translation ultimately to lie outside the realms of possibility. Others reject such pessimism, pronouncing translation to be necessarily possible. Yet others prefer to make the best of it, and get on with a messy job. But why do views diverge so radically? Why does the ordinary idea of ‘translation’ turn out to be so knotty?

The question is particularly acute with respect to bible translation, where perception of the text’s authority is often inseparable from notions of its divine origin and where expectations of a text’s transcendent truth must be reconciled with its historical particularity. Bible translators and theologians often view bible translation as essentially distinct from any other kind of translation. Is it?

At the Heythrop Colloquium on Translation, September 2013, we took bible translation as a point of departure, moving beyond into the breadth of translation studies. Translators, philosophers, theologians, linguists, historians and anthropologists gathered to look again at translation and how we might most usefully conceive it. The theorists deliberated with translators, those who daily dirty their fingers with the gritty business of translation. The result is a conversation that should illuminate anyone who has paused to think about the problems of translation.
The Heythrop Centre for Textual Studies

Language and the translatability of texts, a pragmatist perspective
Marthe Kerkwijk (Heythrop College, University of London)
In this paper I will make a pragmatist case in favour of the view that translation is, in principle, possible. I will critically evaluate Davidson’s On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme, in which he argues that untranslatable language doesn’t exist. I will argue that the fact that translation is often very difficult – for various reasons – does not imply that it is bound to fail or that we can’t make judgements about how a good translation differs from a bad translation.

“Rhubarb, Rhubarb…”
Dr Tony Carroll (Heythrop College, University of London)
The case of speaking a foreign language highlights interesting aspects relevant for understanding textual translation. The point at which one becomes fluent in a spoken foreign language is the moment that one stops translating. Translation occurs when one lacks fluency and requires interpretation in order to understand. Reading a text is somewhat like speaking a language that one is not fluent in. It involves the process of interpretation, which is the means by which one comes to understand the non-self-evidential meaning of the text. This paper will explore the issues involved in translation understood as a process of the interpretation of non-self-evidential meaning.

Translator as creator of a text
Dr Charlotte Naylor Davis (Heythrop College, University of London)
My paper will explore the idea of the translator as creator of a new text, and the problems involved with changing the nature / form of a text in translation.

Why translations fail: reflections on English translations of the Missale Romanum
Dr Nick King, SJ (Oxford University)
All translations fail, often because of the tension between the target language and the source language, and the inevitability of falling between those two stools. The paper, by one who has recently completed a translation of the Bible, will explore this point with regard to recent attempts at translation, notably biblical versions and the new English translation of the Missale Romanum. The paper will endeavour to avoid the eye-glazing impenetrabilities of translation theory, which never seems to advance the case very much.

Bible translation: style, historical context, and the ubiquitous presence of the King James Version
John Barton (Oxford University)
I will discuss some issues in translating the Bible, especially (a) whether the style should be uniform throughout, and (b) what is to be done about the cultural presence of the King James Version in the background of any fresh attempt to translate the Bible.

Edward Schillebeeckx and the meaning of scripture
Martin Poulsom, SDB (Heythrop College, University of London)
One of the tasks of the systematic theologian is to translate the meaning of the Scriptures, and of other texts, such that their message can be heard in the actual situation of men and women living in the theologian’s own time and place. This paper will consider the hermeneutics that Edward Schillebeeckx develops to assist this process, noting the way that he draws the reader’s context into dialogue with the context of the text in order to understand its meaning. It will also ask whether a theological account of this process written in Dutch in 1967 can still speak meaningfully in English in 2013.

Computer based tools for Bible translators: Progress, pitfalls and implications for the future
Jon Riding (Oxford Brookes University & 7000++)
The last twenty years have seen increasing use of computer based systems to translate or to assist with translation. Within the Bible translation community the development of Machine Assisted Translation tools tailored to the Bible translator’s task has transformed the work. I shall give a brief history of computer assistance for Bible translators and discuss the systems currently in use and the implications of their use when translating Scripture. The benefits and pitfalls of such systems will be discussed as will the scope for continuing development.

The role of formal languages in computing and the relationship between humans and computer hardware
Joe Norton (Independent)
I will discuss translation between different computer languages, particularly between languages at different levels of abstraction from the physical computer hardware. I will present the differences between low-level and high-level computer programming languages, highlighting the role of formal languages in computing and their relationship between humans and computer hardware.

Lessons for modern translation theory from Aquila and other odd ancient predecessors
James K. Aitken (Cambridge University)
Aquila and the so-called “literalist” method of translation is one of the oddest in antiquity, having been called one of “pedantic literalness” or “a slave to the Hebrew letter.” This translation method has been attributed either to a simple teaching method of learning the source language, or to an extreme recognition of the failure of translation in its attempt to render every feature of the source text. This paper is a reassessment of this method, recognizing sensitivity to the target language as much as the source language, but one that goes beyond negotiation between source text and target text. It instead offers lessons in translation method, providing examples of multiple causation phenomena in translation and a different approach to the effectiveness of a translation.

Confessions of the perplexed. An historian’s conerns about translation
Jonathan Norton (Heythrop College, University of London)
Translating historical texts involves the special difficulties faced by the historian. Ultimately the limits of our sources and our of methods for interrogating them constrain our efforts to translate ancient texts and even determine our ability to evaluate success. Translating traditional texts adds yet more difficulties. After all, since many historical texts have been transmitted over centuries, the canons to which each text belongs have already informed the working of our minds before we sit down to translate. But we hardly realise it. How do we translate, then, when we do not understand what an ancient Greek or Hebrew text means, on the one hand, while the tradition within which we receive the text passively interprets the text for us with ambient inevitability? Case studies from the New Testament and other Greco-Roman sources will pave the way to discussion.

When YHWH comes down: Translating Divine Descent in Exodus
Mark Scarlata (Cambridge University & St Mellitus College, London)
This paper will examine the translations of divine descent language in the book of Exodus. By looking at specific terms used in the Hebrew Bible for God’s coming down to earth from heaven and making himself manifest, we shall discover how the ancient translators dealt with the difficult task of rendering anthropomorphic language attributed to the divine. We shall then determine whether the translations succeed in accurately rendering the original Hebrew and how this might speak to the theological intentions of the translators.

Part One

Part Two

Yair Zakovitch on Esther: “Where is God Hiding?”

Professor Yair Zakovitch (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) delivered a talk on the Book of Esther, the only biblical book which does not mention God. The lecture, entitled “Where is God Hiding?‘ was part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted January 30, 2005.

The talk is available in m4a audio format:

Zakovitch_Yair

Yair Zakovitch on Intermarriage, Ruth versus Ezra and Deuteronomy

Professor Yair Zakovitch (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) delivered a talk on “Intermarriage And Halachic Creativity” as part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted Feburary 17, 2005.

The talk is available in m4a audio format:

Zakovitch_Yair

Yair Zakovitch – The Concept Of Miracle In The Bible

Professor Yair Zakovitch (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) delivered a talk on “The Concept Of Miracle In The Bible” as part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted January 21, 2005.

The talk is available in m4a audio format:

Zakovitch_Yair

Yair Zakovitch – Dreams And Dream Interpretation In The Bible

Professor Yair Zakovitch (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) delivered a talk on “Dreams And Dream Interpretation In The Bible” as part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted January 21, 2005.

The talk is available in m4a audio format:

Zakovitch_Yair

Yair Zakovitch – Historical Criticism as Literary Archaeology

Professor Yair Zakovitch (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) delivered a talk on historical criticism as “Literary Archaeology” as part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted January 19, 2005.

The talk is available in m4a audio format:

Zakovitch_Yair

Yair Zakovitch – Life Beyond Life In The Bible

Professor Yair Zakovitch (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) delivered a talk on “Life Beyond Life In The Bible” as part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted January 20, 2005.

The talk is available in m4a audio format:

Zakovitch_Yair

Steven Katz on The Jewish Encounter With Hellenism

Professor Steven Katz (Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at Boston University) delivered a talk on “The Jewish Encounter With Hellenism” as part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted February 13, 2007.

The talk is available in m4a audio format:

Katz-Steven

Steven Katz on The Emergence of the Hasmonean State and its Political and Theological Consequences

Professor Steven Katz (Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at Boston University) delivered a talk on “The Emergence of the Hasmonean State and its Political and Theological Consequences” as part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted January 30, 2007.

The talk is available in m4a audio format:

Katz-Steven

Aren Maeir on Media Fantasy and Biblical Archeology

Professor Aren Maeir (Bar Ilan University) delivered a talk entitled “Media Fantasy & Biblical Archeology: Must Everything Be Interpreted As A “Da Vinci Code?” as part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted November 14,  2007. The talk examines media exaggerations and archaeological forgeries in biblical archaeology. The talk is available in m4a audio format:

maeir_aren

A very interesting character by the name of Simcha Jacobovici claims that a bunch of ossuaries were found in the tomb…. They had names such as Jacob, and Joseph, and Jesus, and Miriam, and from this, this group of scholars which included Jacobovici and James Cameron from The Titanic carried out this enormous hullaballoo, as they say, claiming that since you have these names, this is the tomb of the family of Jesus. Now, all of this is very nice, except that those names, which we know from the New Testament as being the names of Jesus’ family, were extremely common in Jerusalem during that period. So if we were to find a tomb nowadays in the Jewish cemetery and there was a David, a Solomon, a Bathsheba, and Ruth, we would hardly say that that’s David’s family. It’s just that those are common names…. [Jacobovici] connects the dots in places the dots should not be connected…. If you take a story and either you don’t know it or you hide from the viewers all the little details which make the connecting of the lines difficult, then you can do it. And that’s exactly what [Jacobovici] does a lot.

Rachel Rosenthal on Ruth and Peloni Almoni

Rachel Rosenthal delivers a lecture at the 2013 Limmud Conference, “It’s Not Right, But It’s OK: A Characterization of Wisdom and Halachah”, which examines the Book of Ruth and the mysterious figure “Peloni Almoni” (Bug-a-Lugs).

 

 

Modern Biblical scholarship and traditional Jewish belief – James Kugel

Professor James Kugel (Harvard University) delivered one of the papers at the 2013 Limmud Conference, “Modern Biblical scholarship and traditional Jewish belief”.

Did Moses really write the Torah? Is there any archaeological evidence that the Exodus took place? Did the Israelites really conquer Canaan and settle there? Most biblical scholars in universities tend to answer all these questions with a ‘No.’ What then is a religious Jew to make of all this? A different way of approaching the question.