The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible

Pantheon. Mar. 2017. 288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307908568. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307908575. REL
Translator, scholar, and poet Ruden (Paul Among the People) here takes readers on a thoughtful journey into the depths of the Bible in its original Hebrew and Greek. Her purpose was to "read in the original languages some of the best-known passages of the Bible and describe what I saw and heard there." The need for this work grew out of the author's sense of how much is lost in most English translations, not only aesthetically but also in meaning. This book is her attempt to convey some of what is, quite literally, lost in translation. Ruden explores topics such as grammar, vocabulary, style, and comedy in more than a dozen passages, including Psalm 23, the Lord's Prayer, and Ezekiel's Vision of Dry Bones. After examining the various aspects of language, each passage is gorgeously retranslated by the author, in an effort to recapture some of its lost beauty and significance.
VERDICT While overly detailed for some general readers and not quite scholarly enough for most academics, this delightful book will be a beloved treasure for select readers with an interest in deepening their appreciation of the Bible and the challenges that come with translating it faithfully and authentically.
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