Translating God: The Five Languages of the Bible


Course description

Modern readers of the English Bible may encounter four other languages in a historical study of texts. The first two are the languages found in the Hebrew Scriptures: Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic. The third is the language of the books of the New Testament: Hellenistic Greek. The fourth is Latin, the universal language of the church for over a millennium. The sessions of this course will look at how non-religious and religious versions of these five languages arose. We will also look at how specific religious texts coded in these languages both shape the languages and have been shaped by the languages. Along the way, we will discuss the roles of religious language and issues that arise around literal and loose translations of religious texts. No familiarity with linguistics or any language except English is assumed. Class handouts will be provided.

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