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Dipl.-Dolm. Dipl.-Theol. Juliane Eckstein

Focus Area: Constructions of Norms
Doctoral Fellow: November 2014 - Oktober 2017


Translation or distortion? Translational Norms in Antiquity and the Translation Strategy of Old Greek Job

This work revolves around the question of how sacred texts are supposed to be translated - a question, which is continuously sparking new debates. However, they often fall prey to the misconception that there was only one single norm for an adequate translation of religious texts. We know however, that different translational norms existed in Antiquity, several of which were written down. Strikingly, there is a considerable disparity between them. It is often heavily debated, which of those norms guided the translation of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew books of the Bible, especially when it comes to the book of Job.
In most cases, Septuagint scholars tacitly presuppose the word-by-word translation as the generally accepted norm. The Old Greek Job however differs substantially from this standard. It contains numerous “deviations” from the Hebrew source text. This is why “free” or even “arbitrary” are common adjectives when scholars describe this translation. Moreover, it is by one sixth shorter than its Hebrew counterpart. For Septuagint researchers, it is those differences, both qualitative and quantitative in nature, which contradict the translation standard and need to be explained. It is not the word-by-word translation, although this one can be found in Old Greek Job, too.
On the other hand, one could as easily assume that those “deviations“ point to other norm conceptions, which the translator might have held. That is why in this study, I will primarily describe the Old Greek Job as a translation, employing the means and categories of Translation Studies. Secondly, I might be able to draw conclusions as to the actual norm conceptions that underlie this translation. Those conceptions might in turn shed a light on the interaction between both languages and cultural environments.
After all, the Old Greek Job is a remarkable example for a transfer from a Semitic language into an Indo-Germanic language, and moreover for a transfer from an ancient Near Eastern culture into a Hellenistic culture. As such, this work deals not only with translation, but also with ancient interculturality in general.