Keynote lecture by Sameh Hanna (Leeds University). Retranslation and the re-definition of an ‘Authoritative Translation’: sociological insights from the Arabic translations of the Bible

The fact that the Arabic Bible has been translated to serve different functions for different audiences within diverse socio-cultural and historical settings makes re-translation an unavoidable necessity. Re-translators do not work in a vacuum; they produce new versions of the same ST (the Bible in this case) against the backdrop of an existing translation that has once enjoyed the status of an ‘authoritative’ version. In this presentation, the two categories of ‘retranslation’ and ‘authoritative translation’ are approached as socio-cultural constructs. Aided by insights from the sociology of translation, and using examples from the history of the Bible in Arabic, the following questions will be posed: what is an ‘authoritative translation’ of the Bible? What is it that makes it ‘authoritative’ and for whom? And what strategies are used by a re-translation to challenge the status of the ‘authoritative version’.

About the speaker

Sameh Hanna is currently a Bible Translation Consultant in-training at United Bible Societies. Previously he was an Associate Professor in Arabic Literature and Translation at the University of Leeds, UK. His research interests include sociology of translation, Shakespeare in Arab culture and translating sacred texts, on which he has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and chapters in edited volumes. Hi book, Bourdieu in Translation Studies: The Socio-cultural Dynamics of Shakespeare Translation in Egypt was published with Routledge in 2016. He is currently working on a book on the translation of teh Bible into Arabic and the construction of Arab Christian identity.