Literal, Readable, or Explanatory: Insights From Modern Translators of Jewish Texts
Jews have been translating our sacred texts into spoken languages for millennia. But what makes for a solid translation? What challenges come up in the process, and what considerations must be made?
Below we invite you to explore several ways that modern translators approach these questions.

Layers of Meaning

When Professor Everett Fox set out to translate the Torah into English, he put special emphasis on capturing the allusions, alliterations, and wordplays of the Hebrew original. (The final result, the acclaimed Schocken Bible, is just one of the Torah translations available on Sefaria.)
Go behind the scenes in a special conversation between Professor Fox and Sefaria Chief Learning Officer Sara Wolkenfeld:

Translation as Theology

What is the responsibility of a translator to the original text? Rabbi David Kasher reflected on this deeply while preparing his English translation of Avot D'Rabbi Natan, a companion volume to Pirkei Avot. Balancing accuracy and readability, he concluded that translators of sacred texts fulfill a theological role. Read more...

Translating the Jerusalem Talmud

In 2021, the Sefaria library hit a significant milestone when we added a complete English translation of the Jerusalem Talmud prepared by Professor Haim (Heinrich) Guggenheim.
In honor of his second yahrzeit, Michael Kimmel shared five key insights he learned from assisting on this project — from how to approach a text rationally to the importance of humility. Read more...

Interpretation Through Translation

"Translation is an abbreviated form of exegesis: exegesis that does not have the space to explain or justify itself," said the biblical scholar Adele Berlin. So begins the preface to the Jewish Publication Society's 2006 Contemporary Torah, which tackles head-on the complexities of translating between languages that use gendered terms differently. Read more...
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