Friday, August 31, 2012

A review on translation - Saadia Gaon

Biblical Translation in the Making: The Evolution and Impact of Saadia Gaon's Tafsr
Steiner, Richard C.

This one is a great review to read - even if you only read the review. Debate over translation is not new to our time. You might recall this blog post on Genesis 1:1 among others - here is a perspective on it from 1200 years ago
For example, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen 1:1) becomes: “The first of what God created was heaven and earth…” in the Tafsīr, which reflects Hunayn b. Ishạ̄q’s choice of translation.Steiner argues that the classic understanding of “In the beginning…” supports the Aristotelian view that time was uncreated, which was untenable to Saadia, and with this one bold stroke  he  irrevocably  broke  with  prior  traditional literal translations.
Cool! I doubt that "In the beginning" supports Aristotle's uncreated time. But for me, it's the brief insight into polemics from a distant time that is intriguing.