Hilla Karas (Bar-Ilan University): Hebrew retranslations of the Bible and their contradictory reception

The Hebrew Bible has been translated over the centuries into numerous languages, for Jews and non-Jews alike. Its modernized versions in Hebrew present a great diversity of forms, from comic booklets to summaries and adaptations for children. Specifically, the translation known as Tanakh Ram was first circulated as classroom brochures presenting only the paragraphs selected for the school program, and later marketed as a full-text complete translation of some of the biblical books. The publication provoked an extremely heated and emotional public controversy in Israel.
Interestingly, several other modern Hebrew versions openly labelled as “targum”, translation, have been printed or made accessible to the public in other ways over the recent years as well (e.g. Kokhav 2010). These do not seem to have encountered the same public dismay or similar rejections from official institutions, and have largely gone unnoticed by translation scholars so far. With the purpose of shedding light on their very different reception, the proposed talk describes the translations and analyzes their text and paratext, in order to clarify their approach regarding the legitimacy of translating Biblical Hebrew intralingually as well as their views on the relation between the two language versions involved. Further relevant parameters which will be considered are intelligibility, fullness, literality, intended readership and various styles of double presentation.
In order to complete the context for the analyzed documents, it will be necessary to take into account additional modern Hebrew versions that were not labelled as translation but seem to be often treated as such by speakers, and may thus count as partial “assumed translations”. These will also be examined and compared to the explicit translations, with the purpose of indicating the features which lead speakers to assimilate them with translations rather than with other commentaries.

About the speaker

Hilla Karas is a translation scholar at Bar-Ilan University. She focuses on subjects related to intralingual diachronic translation, heterolingualism, the status of the translated text and non-prototypical translations. She translated works by several French thinkers into Hebrew, including Derrida, Kristeva and Barthes.

Selected publications:
Karas, Hilla 2019. « Intelligibility and the Reception of Translation », Perspectives Studies in Translatology, https://doi.org/10.1080/0907676X.2019.1612929 (19 pages)
Karas, Hilla 2019. « False Equality in Election Advertisements. The Use of Multilingualism and Subtitles », Journal of Language and Politics 18:1, pp. 131-153.
Karas, Hilla 2016. “Intralingual Intertemporal Translation as a Relevant Category in Translation Studies”, Target 28:3, pp. 445-466.
Karas, Hilla 2016. “On the (non?) reception of the Ram Bible”. Hebrew, a Living Language, VII, 367– 386. [in Hebrew].
Karas, Hilla 2016. « Les statuts paratextuels de la traduction », in : La Traduction, Pratiques d’hier et d’aujourd’hui, eds. Joëlle Ducos et Joëlle Gardes Tamine, Paris : Champion, pp. 199-216
Karas, Hilla 2007. « Le Statut de la traduction dans les éditions bilingues : de l’interprétation au commentaire », Palimpsestes 20, pp. 137-159