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Translators as Storytellers

A Study in Septuagint Translation Technique


John A. Beck

In the third century B.C.E., translators began retelling the stories of the Hebrew Bible in Greek. The Septuagint was born but its analysis had just begun. To date, most Septuagint translation technique analysis has focused on the linguistic sensitivity of these translators, but there is more to storytelling than linguistics. Translators as Storytel lers addresses the literary sensitivity of the translators, thus, expanding the tradition of translation technique analysis to include the translator’s replication of characterization, time, the patterning play of words, and the artful use of geography.


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Chapter One: Introduction 1


~ CHAPTER ONE Introduction Not just anyone can write a great story. For great stories are more than mere words and grammar. Great stories are more than the reporting of events. Great stories are carefully crafted pieces of art that have a literary soul and life. They are produced by authors who carefully select content and manipulate form to maintain their reader's interest and to shape their reader's response. Narrative is art with a message. But what happens to that art and its message when it is translated into another language? What kind of storytellers are the translators? Translation technique analysis must pursue this question. The Hebrew Bible is a book of great stories, stories that many value as communication from God. In the third century B.C.E., the great stories of the Hebrew Bible needed to live at Jewish dinner tables where Greek, not Hebrew, was the language of choice. Thus the Septuagint was born and translators became storytellers. Scholars have carefully analyzed the translation style of the Septuagint translators. Like all translators, their work may be viewed as a series of decisions. For example, the Septuagint writer would regularly encounter a series of waw-consecutive clauses in his Hebrew text. No single Greek equivalent would be appropriate for translating all of them. Since the original language and target language lacked absolute parity in their linguistic structure, the translator was required to make a decision. 1 When that same translator encountered a metaphor whose literal sense no longer communicated well in the...

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