History and Hermeneutics in Biblical Translation - 28 May 2011

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Birkbeck College, University of London

2011 marks the fourth centenary of the publication of the King James Bible, now widely recognised as the landmark work in the history of English scriptural translation, even if contemporaries were slow to embrace the work. It is an appropriate time, then, for a retrospective glance at the Bible's place in the English language, from its earliest mediaeval incarnations, through the manifold early modern versions to the present-day, when the Bible is still being adapted to the idioms of modern speech, as in Rob Lacey's Street Bible (2002). More than any other work, the Bible has participated bilaterally in the development and enrichment of the language, and of the cultures which that language has underpinned.

This conference seeks to explore the relationship between Bible and bibles, Logos (John 1.1) and logoi, message and words. To what extent can the Bible communicate in its English translations? To what extent is it, as a text, already translation: as John closes his Gospel, if all the works of Jesus should be put down in words, 'I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written'. Proposals are invited for papers on specific aspects of the Bible's translation into English, or on broader themes within this field. We particularly welcome contributions on nineteenth- and twentieth-century work, and those with a theoretical aspect—possible topics could include the problems involved in modern corporative translations and revisions, from the Revised Version onwards; the influence of modern (and postmodern) ideas about language on translation, such as seen in the French work of Henri Meschonnic; the introduction of the Bible into other media; and the engagement of Victorian and modernist literatures with new and old versions of the Good Book.

Proposals of no more than 250 words for twenty minute papers should be sent to Anthony.Richardson@postgrad.sas.ac.uk or d.duncan@english.bbk.ac.uk by 13 March 2011. For further information, contact Anthony Ossa-Richardson or Dennis Duncan at the addresses above.