Koerner Fellow Steven Fraade publishes book on multilingualism and translation in ancient Judaism

October 27, 2023

In Multilingualism and Translation in Ancient Judaism: Before and After Babel, Steven Fraade explores the practice and conception of these important linguistic features in ancient Judaism. Interrogating the deep and dialectical relationship between them, he situates representative scriptural and other texts within their broader synchronic Greco-Roman context, as well as their diachronic context—the history of Judaism and beyond. Neither systematic nor comprehensive, his selection of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek primary sources, fluently translated into clear English, illustrate the fundamental issues and the performative aspects relating to translation and multilingualism. Fraade scrutinizes and analyzes the texts to reveal the inner dynamics and the pedagogical-social themes that are implicit when multilingualism and translation are paired. His book demonstrates the need for a more thorough and integrated treatment of these topics, and their relevance to the study of ancient Judaism, than has been heretofore recognized.

Steven D. Fraade, the Mark Taper Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, focuses on the history and literature of ancient Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies and the Program in Jewish Studies at Yale University. His teaching, research, and writing span the late Second Temple Period, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, and early rabbinic literature. His scholarship has been recognized through many academic honors, including fellowships and funding from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, among others. He is the author of five books, including From Tradition to Commentary: Torah and Its Interpretation in the Midrash Sifre to Deuteronomy, which won the 1992 National Jewish Book Award for Scholarship.

Further information on the book and Professor Fraade’s interest in multilingualism can be found in his recent article, Multilingualism and Translation in Ancient Judaism, which was published in Ancient Jew Review last April.