Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Online Translations of the Apocalypse of Abraham

A good quality pdf file of the first English translation of Apocalypse of Abraham (that of G.H. Box and J.I. Landsman, published in London in 1918 under the title of the Apocalypse) can be found here .

The translation is a good starting point to orient oneself in the text, but is generally acknowledged to have some fairly serious flaws. The translators seem to have been rather anachronistic in imputing later Russian meanings to Church Slavonic words and the criteria by which they chose which variant to follow among the readings attested by the manuscripts also seem not to have been clear. The translation of R. Rubinkiewicz (which contains additional notes by the great Slavist, Howard Lunt) in Charlesworth's The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Volume 1: Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments (New York: Doubleday, 1983) points out where these errors occur and should be the text used for our class.

A new translation has also appeared in Alexander Kulik's Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha: Towards the Original of the Apocalypse of Abraham (Atlanta: SBL, 2004), 9-35. While this is an important study, I would not encourage students to make use of it at this stage, as it requires a knowledge of Greek, Hebrew and Church Slavonic to engage with the footnotes. Moreover, Kulik's translation is based on some of his innovatory attemps to establish a hypothetical underlying text; an assessment of whether his arguments are persuasive has not yet been made by the academic community in general and requires linguistic skills that are beyond those we expect from our class members. For the time being, therefore, Kulik's work should be regarded as speculative and as falling outside of the scope of this class.