The First Hebrew Translation of the Guide of the Perplexed
This chapter focuses on the literary and cultural dimensions of Ibn Tibbon’s translation, the first Hebrew translation (1204; rev. 1213) of Maimonides’ Guide, in particular its use of biblical and rabbinic language, the possible sources of and influences on the translation, its literalistic and non-literalistic tendencies, the mechanical process of transferring a word from one linguistic-cultural context to another, and the impact of translation choice on reception. Examples fit into the following five categories: (1) The use of biblical language mediated by Saadia Gaon’s Tafsir, Saadia’s translation of the Bible from Hebrew into Arabic; (2) The original use of Biblical language unrelated to Saadia’s Tafsir and often with exegetical significance; (3) The use of rabbinic language and its repercussions; (4) The literalistic and non-literalistic tendencies of the translation, focusing on technical and non-technical terms and on the rendering of proper names; (5) Translation by loan translation and calque.
Keywords: Samuel ibn Tibbon, Translation, Literal vs. non-literal translation, Saadia Gaon, Biblical language, Hebrew Names, Rabbinic language