The Wonders of Translation

Otter Perry ottertee at
Tue Feb 24 13:20:53 EST 2004

Just so you don't think I know enough to come up
with this by myself .....

This is from a column by Rabbi Bob Alper, a stand-up comic
and author.  It appeared in The Jewish News and a friend
copied it and gave it to me several years ago.

The column is about dealing with some missionaries who came
to his door.  I take up the story near the end:

- - - - - -

"I'm so glad you brought your Bible," I offered, "Because I have a
question about Judges, Chapter 1, verse 14.  Would you please
read from your copy?"

He licked his index finger, zipped over to the page, and began,
"When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a
field; and she alighted from her ass and Caleb said to her,
'What do you wish?'"

[Note from me:  this exactly agrees with the Revised Standard

"Hmmm," I responded.  "Seems that my version is a bit different.
Maybe you can help me understand why."  I then grabbed my
New English Bible, Oxford University Press, 1970, and shared
its translation.  "When she came to him, he incited her to ask her
father for a piece of land.  As she sat on the ass, she broke
wind, and Caleb said, 'What did you mean by that?'"

Rather than engage in a discussion about the intricacies of
interpretation, within 30 seconds the team was barreling down
the road, on its way to save other souls.

- - - - - -

I'm going to see about getting a copy of the New English Bible,
I think.


There is no point in being Irish if you don't understand
that the world is going to break your heart someday.

                             - Daniel Patrick Moynihan
                                on the assassination of John F Kennedy

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