Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Grammar Of God



The Grammar Of God

By Aviya Kushner

Spiegel & Grau/Random House, August 2015


Aviya Kushner is an Orthodox Jew who loves language, poetry, literature and history, and has used her original Master's thesis on how the languages used affect the Biblical text to produce a remarkable book which is the product of a decade's work. She has read, spoken out loud, learned and loved a variety of translations, finding out just how Biblical translation has affected Jews and Christians alike  - and continues to influence us - right up to the present day.

It's not just the simple act of translating words, concepts and ideas; even the very rhythm, rhyme and resonance of the original Hebrew can affect the way it is understood. Ironically, when translators inserted punctuation where there was very little in the original Hebrew, yet another layer of obscurity was added to the sacred text rather than serving to enhance or enlighten the reader or the auditor. Translation does not convey the cultural or historical detail and understanding of those reading in their native language, and she does her best to give us an insight into how much difference this really does make.

From the Creation to laughter, from the books of the Law to the songs of the Psalms, from travel across Germany to the deepest meanings of scheduled Torah portions, from her family history to education, from her beloved Jewish heritage to her respectful fascination with how Christians view the Bible, this is a book which I found utterly absorbing, from the very first page right through to the last.


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2 comments:

Pen Wilcock said...

That sounds so interesting!

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Pen, I thoroughly enjoyed it :-D
She brings in Talmudic commentary by famous Rabbis to illustrate points and show the Jewish tradition of Biblical exegesis, which I found fascinating and illuminating.