The Invention of Jewish Identity

The Invention of Jewish Identity

Bible, Philosophy, and the Art of Translation
Aaron W. Hughes
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/29/2010
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-22249-7
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Jews from all ages have translated the Bible for their particular times and needs, but what does the act of translation mean? Aaron W. Hughes believes translation has profound implications for Jewish identity. The Invention of Jewish Identity presents the first sustained analysis of Bible translation and its impact on Jewish philosophy from the medieval period to the 20th century. Hughes examines some of the most important Jewish thinkers—Saadya Gaon, Moses ibn Ezra, Maimonides, Judah Messer Leon, Moses Mendelssohn, Martin Buber, and Franz Rosenzweig—and their work on biblical narrative, to understand how linguistic and conceptual idioms change and develop into ideas about the self. The philosophical issues behind Bible translation, according to Hughes, are inseparable from more universal sets of questions that affect Jewish life and learning.

Author Bio

Aaron W. Hughes is Associate Professor of History and the Gordon and Gretchen Gross Professor in the Institute of Jewish Thought and Heritage at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. He is author of The Texture of the Divine (IUP, 2004) and The Art of Dialogue in Jewish Philosophy (IUP, 2008).


“Translation, as Hughes perceives it, becomes a major cultural monument rather than merely a philological exercise in transferring the semantics and syntax of one language into those of another.”
 — Kalman Bland, Duke University

“Shows how Bible translation strategies verify claims about the constant need for self-making that are usually associated with existentialism, claims about the constructedness of 'tradition' that are usually associated with postmodernism, and claims about the need to construct 'tradition' that are usually associated with cultural theorists.”
 — Martin Kavka, Florida State University

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Table of Contents

1. Introductory and Interpretive Contexts
2. The Forgetting of History and the Memory of Translation
3. The Translation of Silence and the Silence of Translation: The Fabric of Metaphor
4. The Apologetics of Translation
5. Translation and Its Discontents
6. Translation and Issues of Identity and Temporality
Conclusions: Between Spaces

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