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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 Two: The Storyteller and Linguistics 17


m CHAPTER TWO The Storyteller and Linguistics Septuagint translation technique has enjoyed a considerable amount of attention during this century. And a review of the bibliography reveals a prominent trend. This research set out to measure the consistency with which the translators handled the linguistic components of the Hebrew text. By measuring this consistency, the analyst could posit a percentage of consistency or "literalness" for the translation unit. And it is this measure of literalness that was of particular value to the lower text critic. We will begin our search in this linguistic arena in order to measure the ability of such analysis to illuminate the translators as storytellers. In this chapter, we will survey the I inguistic methods of translation technique analysis associated with the Septuagint. That survey will not be comprehensive but will be highly representative of the historic and current trends in translation technique research. From that literature, we will assemble a method via which to measure a Greek text for translation style. In the final portion of the chapter, we will sample the data generated by the application of this method to our texts. In the end, this chapter will position us to answer three questions. ( 1) What percentage of literalness can be assigned to each text? (2) Is there a correlation between the measure of linguistic literalness and fidelity to the narrative experience? (3) Is the current methodology adequate for defining the literary sensitivity of the Septuagint translators? 18 The Storyteller and Linguistics Introduction to...

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