Paul Johnson

A Good Book

The Bible In English

By

Yale Univeristy Press 1,600pp £25 order from our bookshop

TRANSLATION IS A mysterious business, which often subjects a text to the literary equivalent of a chemical change. It can flatten or heighten. Dostoevsky’s tales, for instance, are even more strange in Constance Garnett’s translation than in Russian. Edmund Wilson, who taught himself Hebrew to read the Old Testament in the original, said it was like discovering a different book. David Daniell’s enormous work of over 1,600 pages in small type deals only with English translations of the Bible and shows how complicated the process was. Much of the Bible most English speakers know, the King James Version, is the result of a process of transformation from Hebrew into Greek, then into Latin and finally into English, in addition to direct renderings from Hebrew or Greek. The King James text incorporates bits from William Tyndale’s translation, from the Geneva version, from the Catholic Douai version, on which I was raised, and from others.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,