Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jerusalem Bible

In today's class Richard mentioned that Tolkien contributed to the translation of a part of the "Jerusalem Bible." There was a little uncertainty on which book he translated so I decided to research the topic.
In 1943 Pope Pius XII wrote a letter encouraging Roman Catholics to translate scripture from the original Hebrew and Greek, rather than from Latin. This resulted in a group of Dominican and lay scholars meeting in Jerusalem and translating the scriptures into french. This french version was published in 1961 and prompted others to do make an English version. This new bible was translated directly from Greek and Hebrew, but in passages with more than one way of interpreting the French version was usually followed.
The translation used a literal approach of which Tolkien preferred. Tolkien contributed to multiple books, but his primary contributions were the translation of the Book of Jonah. This new bible was known as the Jerusalem Bible and was the first widely accepted Roman Catholic translation since the 17th century.
Tolkien got involved because Fr. Anthony Jones, was the lead man on the project, and was very impressed with the LOTR. Tolkien was chosen because of his skill in translating as well as his good English writing style. Fr. Jones wanted Tolkien to translate more of the older books of the bible, but Tolkien had to much other work to do.
I got my information from...

http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/press/888-Book_of_Jonah_Translated_by_Tolkien.php

2 comments:

S. M. said...

I enjoyed reading the article about the Book of Jonah. Out of curiosity, I took a look at the supplementary portion of the New Jerusalem Bible, and it turns out that on page 2109 J. R. R. Tolkien is listed as one of the principle collaborators of the First Edition of the Jerusalem Bible.

Julie Lautenschleger said...

This sheds quite a bit of light on the strong influence that religion (Catholicism in particular) had on Tolkien's work. There are many allusions to Biblical stories that we have encountered in our readings, ones that only very a very knowledgable Biblical scholar might be able to make. I have to wonder if there are any clear allusions to the Book of Jonah in particular.