“The Bible Across Cultures: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment,” a series of four lectures sponsored by Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at UMass Amherst, explores the Bible as a meeting ground for intercultural exchange. Employing comparative historical and literary methods of analysis, and by highlighting interpretive strategies in the ancient, medieval, and modern worlds, the series draws attention to the role of the Bible in the broader study of the humanities. Each of the subjects discussed in the series – violence, collective memory, Jewish and Christian interpretation, and the confluence of English translations of Bible and Greek epic poetry – offers a fascinating example of cross-cultural inquiry.
FOURTH LECTURE: “Translating the Bible and Homer in Early Modern England”
Jeffrey Shoulson, Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, UConn Storrs
Though it was by no means the first English translation of the Bible, the publication of the King James (or Authorized) Bible in 1611 marked a watershed moment in the history of Bible translations and now, some 400 years later, it remains the single most influential English version of scripture. Its appearance is exactly coincident with the first full translation of Homer's two epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, both of which were produced by the poet and playwright, George Chapman. This talk will take the contemporaneous appearance of these seminal acts of cultural and literary translation as an occasion to consider the particular challenges posed by names, especially names that are as overdetermined as those that appear in the Bible and Homer.
All lectures in this series, sponsored by the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, are free and open to the public. All venues are on campus and wheel-chair accessible.