Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hebrew Artscroll gemaras as more revealing than English gemaras?

Menachem Mendel posts on a comparison between Artscroll's English and Hebrew Talmud's treatment of an issue possibly affecting the text of the Torah.

He finds that the notes in the Hebrew version is a serious attempt to discuss the issue, while the English version simply ignores it.

This dovetails with my observation that Artscroll sometimes attempts to hide things, as it were, in English, but not in Hebrew. This example is even more radical, because it seems to mean that the kind of discussions differ in the two versions.

I'm not certain what to make of it. I recall Nosson Scherman noting that Artscroll has made sure that major university libraries have copies of the English Shas, so that readers at universities have an authentic translation to look at (presumably Soncino, Steinsaltz, Blackman, Herbert Danby etc are not authentic). He even cited R. Chaim Kanievsky, saying that he compared the project to R. Yisrael Salanter's never-realized German Talmud translation. It could be that since Artscroll knows that at least part of its English audience is not, shall we say, initiates, it is more reluctant to discuss such things. But more confident about doing so in Hebrew.

"While the Artscroll English Talmud is an important work, it seems that it intentionally avoids confronting problematic passages in the Talmud, at least in this one instance. Are English-readers unable to confront difficult Gemara texts while Hebrew readers can? Ironically, the Artscroll web site says that their edition of the Talmud is for the “intellectually adventurous”, I guess just not too adventurous."

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