Translating the Book of Jubilees

James C. Vanderkam, Notre Dame

Here is an interesting article on some of the translation issues involved with working with an ancient text, in particular the Book of Jubilees. James C. Vanderkam (John A. O’Brien Professor of Hebrew Scriptures) is an expert in Second Temple literature and has done extensive work on both Apocalyptic literature and the Book of Jubilees. Of his lengthy publications, these are some on Jubilees:

Book of Jubilees (Guides To The Apocrypha And Pseudepigrapha; Sheffield Academic Press, 2001).
Textual and Historical Studies in the Book of Jubilees (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1977).
The Book of Jubilees: A Critical Text (Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 510; Scriptores Aethiopici Tomus 87; Louvain: Peeters, 1989).
The Book of Jubilees: Translated by James C. Vanderkam (Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 511; Scriptores Aethiopici Tomus 88; Louvain: Peeters, 1989).

University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame News
Date: July 29, 2011
ND Newswire
Translating the Book of Jubilees
Renée Hochstetler

Among the 900 or so texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls is the Book of Jubilees, a second- century retelling of Genesis and the first part of Exodus.

Originally written in Hebrew, Jubilees continues to interest scholars for its commentary on the earlier texts.

James VanderKam is the John A. O’Brien Professor of Hebrew Scriptures at the University of Notre Dame and a scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of ancient religious texts found between 1947 and 1956 in caves in and around Qumran, along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea about 15 miles east of Jerusalem.

VanderKam is one of the scholars working on the original Hebrew text of the Book of Jubilees. He has edited the fragmentary remains of several manuscripts—describing them, noting their measurements and details like the writing itself and to what time they can be dated. He has also translated the book from the original texts.

Often written in Hebrew or Aramaic on treated leather parchment, some of the scrolls have holes that can present a problem for editors. VanderKam has worked with the scrolls first-hand, though he mostly works from high quality photographs. He says it is possible to mistake a small mark for part of a letter— which is why checking the original text is so important.

“Despite the fact I have literally worked with every word in the Book of Jubilees by editing the text and writing about it, I keep finding new things,” says VanderKam. By returning to the original manuscripts, he has identified problems in previous translations.

Case in point: Jubilees’ account of the story of Enoch. According to the story, God took Enoch—who lived before the flood and whose life ended without death—to the Garden of Eden to record the deeds of humanity…[See Rest Here]

HT: J. Lauer.


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