THE FACE OF WATER
A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible
A dazzling reconsideration of the original languages and texts of the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testaments, from the acclaimed scholar and translator of Classical literature.
Ruden writes of the early evolution, literary beauty, and transcendent ideals of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament, exploring how the Jews came to establish the greatest, most enduring book on earth as their regional strategic weakness found a paradoxical moral and spiritual strength through their writings, and how the Christians inherited and adapted this remarkable literary tradition. She writes as well about the crucial purposes of translation, not only for availability of texts but also for accountability in public life and as a reflection of society’s current concerns. She shows that it is the original texts that most clearly reveal our cherished values (both religious and secular), unlike the standard English translations of the Bible that mask even the yearning for freedom from slavery. The word “redemption” translated from Hebrew and Greek, meaning mercy for the exploited and oppressed, is more abstract than its original meaning—to buy a person back from captivity or slavery or some other distress. THE FACE OF WATER is as much a book about poetry, music, drama, raw humor, and passion as it is about the idealism of the Bible. Ruden’s book gives us an unprecedented, nuanced understanding of what this extraordinary document was for its earliest readers and what it can still be for us today.
SARAH RUDEN was educated at the University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins, and Harvard, from which she graduated with a Ph.D. in Classical philology. She has translated six books of Classical literature and contributed her Aeschylus’s ORESTEIA to a collection of tragedy in English. Her translation of Augustine’s CONFESSIONS was her first book-length work of sacred literature. She is also the author of a book of poetry, OTHER PLACES. Ruden is a visiting scholar at Brown University and lives in Hamden, Connecticut.
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