Wednesday 15th March 15:00—16:30, Session 1

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Overview of programme


Translating Bible 1


Seminarraum 1


Elizabeth Solopova

Paper 1:

Tracing the Oldest Hungarian Translation of the

Bible  Melina Rokai

Paper 2:

The Nordic “History Bibles”. High Medieval Vernacularization of the Scriptures

Jonatan Pettersson

Paper 3:

The Dynamics of Reading and the Translation of the Bible in the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance

Domenico Pietropaolo

Tracing the Oldest Hungarian Translation of the Bible

Melina Rokai

There is prevailing understanding in historiography of that the earliest translation of the Bible into Hungarian is the so-called. "Hussite Bible", having been translated in the first half of the fifteenth century. This would make it the oldest Hungarian Bible.

In the library of the famous Collegium in Sárospatak, in a city in northeastern Hungary, one Bible in the Polish language, written by hand on parchment is preserved in the codex. In Peter Boda and Count Teleki’ opinion, the Bible had been translated from the Hungarian into Polish Polish by Queen Jadwiga of Anjou (1384-1399), daughter of the Hungarian-Polish King Lajos I the Great (1342-1382), around the year 1390. However, it is probable that she did not translate it herself, but the physical work of translation had been given to a churchman, perhaps a Pauline monk from her cultural circle. The order of Saint Paul the First Hermit (Pauline Fathers) had expanded during the Hungarian-Polish personal union (1370-1382) into Poland. Thus, it can be assumed that the Hungarian text had as the basis a Latin template. If the date of the translation is certain, regardless of the personality of the translator, it would be the first Hungarian Bible, or its translation. This Bible is translated into two national languages ​​(vernacular language), Hungarian and Polish, probably used to read by the priests, who did not understand Latin. Even if not its realization, the idea of translating probably came from Jadwiga. Activity Jadwiga’s activities in spreading of the Roman Catholic religion among the inhabitants of the lands she ruled and in their own language manifested itself in other ways. For example, she settled the monks glagolitic Benedictines in Cracow, who conducted worship in the old Slavic language. The untimely death of Hedwig, made the end of her efforts in this field.

The Nordic “History Bibles”. High Medieval Vernacularization of the Scriptures

Jonatan Pettersson

In many parts of the thirteenth and fourteenth century Europe, vernacular Bible works were produced, that render the Vulgate more or less free and include commentary and other material. The different Bible books are sometimes reworked to form a single, comprehensive narrative from the Creation to the time of Christ, hence the text category name "History Bible".

Examples of this tradition also show up in the Nordic realms of the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. In the West Nordic area, there are some different Norwegian-Icelandic annotated prose translations preserved, which together cover the Pentateuch and some of the other historical Old Testament books. And in Sweden, there is a commented prose translation of the Pentateuch from early fouteenth century complemented with a brief overview of the Biblical history from Adam to the time of the gospels and two theological expositions mainly based on the Summa Theologiæ of Thomas of Aquinas.

The free translation strategies of the History Bibles have often been seen as coming from an intention to popularize in the sense that the text should form a more entertaining narrative. This is no doubt relevant in many cases, but a closer look at the Old Swedish text as a whole, including commentary and additions, reveals other interests, among them to save the Bible from its own obscurities, and to protect the Church from heretic or unorthodox interpretation of the Bible. And also, not to forget, to provide its readers (or hearers) with moral and spiritual guidance. In my presentation I will give a picture of the strategies in the Swedish "History Bible", and also suggest how one could approach larger parts of this vast European tradition, despite all obstacles of the multitude of languages, manuscripts, versions and the voluminous dimension of the texts themselves. For a proper understanding of the local expressions of this tradition, a wide European perspective seems inevitable.

The Dynamics of Reading and the Translation of the Bible in the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance

Domenico Pietropaolo

In the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, reading practices changed significantly, as communities of listeners included in their midst an increasing number of private readers, and as vocal reading gave way to silent reading. These changes were gradual but were deeply felt by translators and commentators of the Bible, who responded to them by intruding their own voices into the theological message of the text, without ostensibly changing its narrative content. In doing so, however, they altered the performative dynamics of the text. My purpose in the present paper is to cite evidence in support of this idea from actual translations and contemporary theories of translation and to defend the thesis that the style of the translation is in part determined by the translator’s perception of his readers’ socio-cultural paradigm of reception. Specifically, I shall argue (i) that narrative presentation and dramatic representation are two performative modes of the bible that impose on translators the hermeneutical responsibility of adjusting the text in relation to their anticipated needs of the new reading community, (ii) that vernacular translators occasionally attune the text to those needs by strategically altering its built-in governance of intended perception in ways that may carry significant theological ideas for the reading community, and (iii) that their representation of the original text in the new idiom is designed to condition the liturgical, exegetical and artistic imagination of their readers, regarded as a community of faith informed by the same reading practices.