Sunday, May 3, 2009

Of Course, What He Meant Is

Richard Alan Rhodes tells the world his middle name when translating one of the family names in the Bible - "using Barnstone’s idea of making the translation [to] sound more Jewish, especially in the names."

Of course, what Rich meant to say is he was using Willis's idea of making the translation sound less exclusionary of the Jews, especially less-Christian-only in the names.

BTW, the family name "Barnstone" is neither Jewish nor Polish.  What is it?


CD-Host said...

I think the number one thing you could do to make Jews not see the NT as hostile is to translate Hoi Ioudaioi as "the Judeans" and not "the Jews". Jews is a modern word and so the attacks on them are taken personally. Judeans is a historical word. "Jewish leaders" just distorts.

J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks for sharing this, CD-Host. As might be imagined, both Amy-Jill Levine and Willis Barnstone explore John's "the Jews" or "the Judeans" or "Jewish leaders" fairly directly. Levine with Marianne Blickenstaff in A Feminist Companion to John actually get to a number scholars' views, those of Adele Reinhartz, who tracks the women of that gospel in relation to the writer's "Jews" to locate "within the text and possibly in the community behind it an alternative paradigm to both social and soteriological exclusivity" (p. 4).

Barnstone is just amazing because not only does he address the question in commentary but he also shows the difference a translation may make.

CD-Host said...

Any idea what Barnstone is doing with Restored that he hasn't done with his earlier translations? I can't wait till it comes out.

As for Levine... we may disagree about her. I think she is right about the problem but not the solution. I think the Jesus <--> Jewish connection is what creates the tension. There is no Catholic <--> Hindu theological tension because the Catholic church makes no theological claims about the Gita for example. If Paul is right Jews don't know how to read their own bible and if they do then Paul is just dead wrong. Christianity is Paulism, there is no way that Judaism can from a Christian perspective ever be theologically correct.

A dejudaized Jesus doesn't a permanent theological problem in nearly the same way. If he belongs to an obscure sect and goes even further into left field you eliminate the theological issues.

Her view strikes me as Hugh Schonfield 40 years later and has the same problems. If the Jewish criteria for the messiah are correct then Jesus is at best a failed messiah. It is impossible for Christianity to adopt that view.

J. K. Gayle said...

CD-Host, I think that "There is no Catholic <--> Hindu theological tension" because Catholics don't have the history of appropriation / of reappropriation of Hinduism. The problem isn't just a de-Judaized Jesus - it's a condemnation of a race, a people. Paul's project just sets the stage for Christians to do this.

Barnstone, like Robert Alter, is deeply interested in the literary rhetorics of scriptures. I think Restored will get to much of that. It's clearly to address more than (the Christian problem only that) the New Covenant has.

Thanks so much for your comments. I'm making mine here on the fly but would like to hear more of your thoughts and respond when more time.

CD-Host said...

I think the problem goes deeper than even the history... it goes to scriptures themselves and the core of the religion.

I was just reading today the Sufi "sayings of Jesus" and #34 is a new antisemitic saying I hadn't heard:
Christ was passing some Jews who muttered curses at him, he spoke pleasantly to them in return. Someone said to him, "See how evilly they speak of you! And you speak well to them?" He said "Each one gives out of what he has".The is just no way to make this any better. There are hundreds of places and traditions. Hebrews 6:6 essentially calls Judaism a rejection of God. How do you clean that up other than turn into into something else?

Just imagine,if Christianity had a problem of usurping the Judeans and their religion Ioudaismos. Best thing is there aren't any Jews in the Christian bible and Jews can have the same relationship with Christians as Hindus do. I think Judaizing it is what caused the problem to begin with.

My daughter gets all kinds of anti-British monarchy propaganda in her American History class as part of learning about the revolution. It is unavoidable.

Alter is on my short list for a read. I've managed to get some good NTs. Now I need some good OTs. Jewish study bible is good as far as it goes, but a literary study would be wonderful.

J. K. Gayle said...

"the problem goes deeper ...goes to scriptures themselves and the core of the religion."

"all kinds of anti-British monarchy propaganda in her American History"

There is the interpretation of texts - but yes, it's the scriptures, the pseudepigrapha, and the propaganda of various sorts that seem inherently problematic. Last night, I just read the very opinionated, quite insightful and entertaining Eva Brann (Homeric Moments: Clues to Delight in Reading the Odyssey and the Iliad) in which she, rightly, exclaims: "It is that there are two Odysseys: Odyssey straight and Odyssey cunning. The straight Odyssey is full of memorable incident and captivating beauty, but the cunning Odyssey is, once you've caught on, the marvel of the ages in its artfulness." But, I think, we don't even know the half of it. When we read Plato's scathing critiques in the Republic and all that his student Aristotle, by later refined logic, was able to effect to disparage Homer by the Odyssey even - then we get an inkling of that profundity of problem you're mentioning.

I'm going to think about your Hebrews 6:6 comment for a long time, I'm sure. Thank you!