The Song of Songs: A New Translation (English and Hebrew Edition)

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9781574532807: The Song of Songs: A New Translation (English and Hebrew Edition)

A new translation brings together Hebrew scholarship, historical and religious background information, and poetic sensibilities.

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Review:

Ariel and Chana Bloch's new translation of the Song of Songs--the most sexually explicit and sensually rich book of the Bible--is pure delight from beginning to end. Its introduction is an accessible, sophisticated, entertaining, and comprehensive orientation to the literary and religious history of the Song of Songs. The Blochs say the speakers in this poem "don't suffer love, they savor it." Their translation, overflowing with full--almost to the point of florid--feeling ("Feast, friends, and drink / till you are drunk with love!"), arrives at a time when many Jews and Christians are opening themselves to the religious dimensions of sexuality and human love. Song of Songs has a great deal to teach us; this translation is sure to attract many eager students. --Michael Joseph Gross

From the Author:

Ariel Bloch and I were moved to translate the Song of Songs because we felt that none of the translations into English fully conveyed the richness and sensuousness of the Hebrew. It is a poem that evokes the erotic yearning between two passionate young lovers. The most impressive English translation is the King James Version (1611); this magnificent poem, with its rich textures and resounding cadences, has been justly beloved by generations of readers. Nonetheless, significant advances in biblical scholarship during the past four centuries have shown many of its readings to be in error, including some of the best-known verses, such as "Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples" (2:5) or "terrible as an army with banners" (6:10). And its language is often dated, such as "I am sick of love" (2:5) or the unfortunate "My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him" (5:4). Finally, the Song in the King James Version is very stately and formal; you would never guess

from reading it that this is a poem about young lovers.

On the other hand, just as earlier interpretations typically erred on the side of prudishness, contemporary translations sometimes verge on crudeness, as in a translation by a distinguished scholar: "Your vulva [is] a rounded crater; / May it never lack punch!" (7:3).

Moreover, our translation corrects the standard misreading of the Song, as exemplified by two key words. In most translations the woman wears a veil, but we show that this reading is not supported by the Hebrew. That incongruous veil, like the fig leaf of Renaissance painting and sculpture, is a sign of the discomfort of the exegetes. When we lift the veil from her face, she is revealed as a passionate young woman, as spirited and assertive as Juliet.

The other key word is commonly translated "love", including in the opening verse "Your love is better than wine", though it refers exclusively to sexual love.

One of the major challenges we faced in translating the Song was to find the proper register in English, neither too formal and stylized nor too breezy and colloquial, language that is fresh and urgent and passionate, and at the same time dignified. Our aim was to convey the heat, the speed, the intensity of the original.

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Audio Literature
Published by Audio Literature (1999)
ISBN 10: 1574532804 ISBN 13: 9781574532807
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