The Grammar of God by Aviya Kushner
A Journey into the Words and Worlds of the Bible
Aviya Kushner’s personal experience of rediscovering in translation the Bible she knew by heart in Hebrew. Kushner grew up in a religious Jewish household in which Hebrew was spoken, and the Hebrew Bible was so integral to the fabric of her family’s life that it was discussed and debated over the dinner table and sung while bathing or mowing the lawn. Not until she went to the nonfiction writing program at the University of Iowa and attended Marilynne Robinson’s Bible class did Aviya hear the Bible in English—and to her great surprise, she didn’t recognize the text at all. Sparked by discussions with Robinson, with whom she has had an ongoing dialogue about the Bible, she embarked on a ten-year search into the process of Biblical translation. She put her Hebrew Bibles away and began collecting as many English editions as she could find: an inspirational edition by a football coach with relevant lines highlighted; translations of translations that made their way from Hebrew to Arabic to Greek to English; and of course the more traditional King James and New Jerusalem versions. Aviya tells the story of her relationship with the Bible—from her childhood through her years at yeshiva, to Iowa and then through her quest throughout the world, tracing the footsteps of long-gone Biblical translators—and points out to us how the differences in translation from the original Hebrew to the English, and the differences between the experiences of reading the Bible in English and in Hebrew, affect our understanding of this most critical of texts.
Source: Jewish Book Council