- Das Problem der Übersetzung—dargestellt an Franz Rosenzweig: Die Methoden und Prinzipien der Rosenzweigischen und Buber-Rosenzweigischen Übersetzungen (review)
- Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
- Purdue University Press
- Volume 18, Number 1, Fall 1999
- pp. 188-190
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- Additional Information
188 SHOFAR Fa111999 Vol. 18, No.1 Das Problem der Ubersetzung-dargestellt an Franz Rosenzweig: Die Methoden und Prinzipien der Rosenzweigischen und Buber-Rosenzweigischen Ubersetzungen , by Hans-Christoph Askani. (Hermeneutische Untersuchungen zur Theologie, edited by Hans Dieter Betz, Pierre Buhler, and Dietz Lange, volume 35). Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1997. 370 pp. DM 190. This book returns to a dissertation produced under Eberhard Jungel and accepted by the Evangelical-Theological Faculty ofthe Universitat Tubingen in 1994. The title reveals the three emphases of the book: the problem of translation; the philosophical and theological dimensions of translation within philological work; and the representation ofthe higher systematic point ofview.Rosenzweig's translations, including the German translation of Scripture undertaken with Buber, are drawn upon here as an exemplary case ofthis problem. The correlation between the methods and principles ofthe BuberRosenzweig translations in the end is particularly reflective of the dimensions of the problem oftranslating. The orientation to Franz Rosenzweig, especially in the extensive Introduction to the topic and to the reception ofRosenzweig, is not, however, forcefully followed through-insofar as the development of the idea of translation, in the last phase, follows more Martin Buber's categories. As a consequence ofthe selection ofhis "translator," the author's central interest leads to a very broad concept of translating, which aims, beyond the technical and philological sense, at the "comprehensive occurrence of the language and the speaking." The "speaking" is "in its 'essence' a translating and the secret of the language is the secret of the translation" (p. vii). In Rosenzweig's words: "Only one can translate who is internally convinced ofthe impossibility [of translating]" (p. 48): reflection on the dialectic of possibility and impossibility of translation, so to speak, shapes the parameters of the thought process. This idea itselffollows the three stages ofRosenzweig's translating activity after 1920: from the early translations of liturgical texts ("Tischdank," "Hausliche Feier" and "HaMawdil," "Ein Lied zum Sabbatausgang") (I.); to the Yehuda-Halevi translations (II.); to the Bible translation (III.) An Appendix includes sample texts from these three phases (pp. 337-349). The early translations (I.) were directed at assimilated German Jewry ("Whoever translates into German, must by the same measure translate into Christian" [Rosenzweig]). Corresponding to the intention of his founding of the Lehrhaus, Rosenzweig wanted, with his translations, to direct them anew from the foreign back into their own Jewish heritage. This desire eventually allowed him to search for a new understanding of the "literal" in translating. The weighty testimony to this attempt is the Ubersetzungen der Hymnen und Gedichte des mittelalterlichen Dichters Jehuda Halevi. (II.) Particularly in the rendering ofrhyme and meter, Rosenzweig works, in the interest ofthe "literal," according to the criterion ofthe formal binding oftranslation to the original and that with the goal "not Book Reviews 189 to Germanize the foreign, but to make foreign the German" (p. 77). Reverting to Rosenzweig's "Epilogue," the author differentiates "free rendering"-which confines "the foreign in the other language by reducing it to the known in ones own [language]" (p. 122)-from a "translating" following the original. His categories of"convergence" . of the translation with the original, and the "meeting" ofboth languages, are indebted to Rosenzweig's insights that language must look different afterwards if the "foreign voice has something to say," and that the task of the translator is misunderstood "if it is seen as the Germanization of the foreign" (p. 118). "The unfamiliarity of such merely literal and not at all flowing translations" (Rosenzweig) looks forward to the BibelUbersetzung (III.) undertaken with Buber, critically referring to Luther's German translation of the Bible. As "advocate of the Hebrew even in the German" (p. 141), Rosenzweig stamped the fundamental position oftranslation, and propelled seemingly ordinary questions oftranslation into the realm ofphilosophy and theology. The "tone" ofthis translation of"metaphysical rank" is the consequence ofmethodical principles which the author illustrates from time to time by central examples: the principle of "absolute word choice," which returns the sense of the basic meaning of a word back to its "foundation" in order to support the teridency toward dynamic rendering in the Hebrew language; the principle of "relative word choice," those "motto styles" (Buber...