Thursday, 28 April 2016
Working on an assignment - more of that later - I am struck again by some of the ways in which the Christian tradition borrows, or more often, rewrites the Jewish Bible. Lefevere remarks:
In the past, aas in the present, rewriters created images of a writer, a work, a period, a genre, sometimes even a whole literature. These images existed side by side with the realities they competed with, but the images always tended to reach more people than the corresponding realities did, and they most certainly do so now.
Not many, for example, of the millions of people reading the Bible do so in the original languages; the vast majority read it in translation - Christian translation at that! Lefevere points out, however, that the way in which the rewritten images were created has received little study. This is odd, he observes, considering the power the images have.
It becomes less strange, though, if we take a moment to reflect that these rewritings are produced in the service, or under the constraints, of certain ideological adn/or poetological currents, and that such currents do not deem it to their advantage to draw attention to themselves as merely "one current among others." Rather, it is much more to the advantage to identify themselves quite simply with something less partisan, more prestigious, and altogether irreversible like "the course of history."
Think about that. Consider, for example, the amount of profit made by people who translate, print and sell Bibles. Consider how carefully the copyrights are protected. How many copies of the NIV are there out there, in its many editions, versions, cases and packagings? Then there are the ESV and the NRSV to name but another two. Each attempts to pass itself off as the pinnacle of translation perfection, with its own unique reason for being better than any of the other translations, and certainly than the originals. Heaven forfend that people should start trying to read the Bible in its original languages!