Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The weirdest Bible translation ever


This is Matthew 25 from the "The Orthodox Jewish Bible: Tanakh and Orthodox Jewish Brit Chadasha" by Phillip E. Goble:

In case you are wondering, in the original "Shkoyach" is rendered by εὖ., or "well done" as per the KJV. But that mamash has no ta'am.

Here's Thayer's entry for Shkoyach:


  1. Thanks for the post.
    This is one of the most insidious pieces of fraud I have ever seen - especially infurious when you consider that Goble is a takka Xian, not even a "JFJ"/Messianic, etc. And to think that the Ramban laid his arguments to rest 800 years ago.
    I wonder if by calling it "Orthodox Jewish" he might be liable for false advertising.
    Check out his website. Where it says that the messiach's name isn't mendel but it's yeshua (R"L). Someone should send a link to Prof. D. Berger.

  2. It's stretching things to say that it's a translation; I don't believe Mr Goble actually knows Hebrew or Aramaic. Unless you mean that it's a translation from English, in which case: fair enough.

  3. The Amazon reviews of this are interesting: http://www.amazon.com/Orthodox-Jewish-Bible-Tanakh-Chadasha/dp/0939341050

  4. What's especially weird is the almost-but-not-quite quality of the translation, like he knew he wanted to use certain terms, but he didn't know how to use them in a sentence. "You gave me malbish arumim" is pretty jarring. And he should realize that if he wants to say "Shkoyach" he should (A) know that he is excluding everyone who says "shkeyich" and (B) write "beis" hasohar.

  5. Yes, it's pretty weird. A thought which occurred to me is that actual Orthodox Bible translations (e.g., Artscroll, Kaplan) try to sound as "biblical" as possible, within reason. I daresay most Orthodox Jews pretty much expect this in a translation, and wouldn't see this as familiar so much as patronizing.

  6. There were some Protestants in Western Europe in the 18th-19th century who learned Hebrew, Yiddish and Jewish mannerisms etc. in an attempt to make Christianity more palatable to Jews. The movement was particularly active in Germany, and spread to England. This strikes me as reminiscent of those efforts - except that Goble is an idiot. Those guys bothered learning the languages, while Goble badly mimics Jewish speech and combines Yiddish, "yeshivish", and smatterings of modern Israeli, rabbinic and biblical Hebrew into such a strange formulation that there's not a Jew in the world who wouldn't cringe after a sentence or two.

    By the way, there's a trippy video of him on youtube. He keeps on randomly exclaiming "Omein!", which seemed very odd to me, until started watching some Christian preachers out of curiosity and discovered where it came from.

    Bekitzur, a very weird chap.

  7. Right on. I've posted many times about Christian Hebraists who were serious students of rabbinic literature and the language, customs and mannerisms of contemporary Jews. This guy is not one of them. To be fair, it was probably somewhat easier for a professor of Oriental Languages and Literature to gain access to observe and discuss things with Jews 250 years ago in Germany than it would be today in, say, Lakewood. Still, there are countless ways in which a Christian can immerse himself 24-7 deeply in Jewish literature. He or she can even spend days watching stuff on YouTube if they're too shy or not savvy enough to get inside a shul or a yeshiva which, as I said, was probably somewhat easier when Jews were in a more degraded state and felt less independently able to tell outsiders to toss off. The point is, he evidently doesn't have the commitment and diligence to do the work. I imagine this is perfectly welcome to most Jews.

  8. The Princeton library had a Yiddish new testament from 1822, so this is clearly not a new phenomenon. I picked up a used copy of Mr Goble's work about 15-20 years ago (you think I want to pay him royalties?) at the height of L messianism; I wondered if it was meant to appeal to them.

  9. Clearly it was. "The Rebbe Melech haMoshiach"?



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