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The Grammar of God : A Journey Into the Words and Worlds of the Bible
by Aviya Kushner


Overview - For readers of Bruce Feiler s "Walking the Bible" and Kathleen Norris s "The Cloister Walk" comes a powerful exploration of the Bible in translation.
Aviya Kushner grew up in a Hebrew-speaking family, reading the Bible in the original Hebrew and debating its meaning over the dinner table.
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More About The Grammar of God by Aviya Kushner
 
 
 
Overview
For readers of Bruce Feiler s "Walking the Bible" and Kathleen Norris s "The Cloister Walk" comes a powerful exploration of the Bible in translation.
Aviya Kushner grew up in a Hebrew-speaking family, reading the Bible in the original Hebrew and debating its meaning over the dinner table. She knew much of it by heart and was therefore surprised when, while getting her MFA at the University of Iowa, she took the novelist Marilynne Robinson s class on the Old Testament and discovered she barely recognized the text she thought she knew so well. From differences in the Ten Commandments to a less ambiguous reading of the creation story to a new emphasis on the topic of slavery, the English translation often felt like another book entirely from the one she had grown up with.
Kushner began discussing the experience with Robinson, who became a mentor, and her interest in the differences between the ancient language and the modern one gradually became an obsession. She began what became a ten-year project of reading different versions of the Hebrew Bible in English and traveling the world in the footsteps of the great biblical translators, trying to understand what compelled them to take on a lifetime project that was often considered heretical and in some cases resulted in their deaths.
In this eye-opening chronicle, Kushner tells the story of her vibrant relationship to the Bible, and along the way illustrates how the differences in translation affect our understanding of our culture s most important written work. A fascinating look at language and the beliefs we hold most dear, "The Grammar of God" is also a moving tale about leaving home and returning to it, both literally and through reading.
Praise for "The Grammar of God"
The highest praise for a book, perhaps, is tucking it into a slot on your bookshelf where you ll always be able to effortlessly slide it out, lay it across your lap and soak it up for a minute or a long afternoon s absorption. "The Grammar of God: A Journey into the Words and Worlds of the Bible, " Aviya Kushner s poetic and powerful plumbing of both the Hebrew and English translations of the Bible, now rests in just such an easy-to-grab spot in my library. In a word, it s brilliant. And beautiful. Barbara Mahany, "Chicago Tribune"
Aviya Kushner has written a passionate, illuminating essay about meaning itself. "The Grammar of God" is also a unique personal narrative, a family story with the Bible and its languages as central characters. Robert Pinsky
Kushner is principally interested in the meanings and translations of key Biblical passages, and she pursues this interest with a fierce passion. . . . A paean, in a way, to the rigors and frustrations and ultimate joys of trying to comprehend the unfathomable. "Kirkus Reviews"
A remarkable and passionately original book of meditation, exegesis, and memoir. In Kushner s redemptive vision, the Bible in its many translations is a Noah s ark, and her book, too, does a work of saving. When I put it down, I wept. Rosanna Warren, author of "Stained Glass"
What a glorious book From Sarah s laughter to the idea of Jewish law being a dialogue and not a rigid set of rules, this is a book not only to learn from but to savor. Peter Orner, author of "Love and Shame and Love"
In this splendid book, each page is a wonder. Willis Barnstone, author of "The Restored New Testament""

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780385520829
  • ISBN-10: 0385520824
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
  • Publish Date: September 2015
  • Page Count: 272


Related Categories

Books > Religion > Biblical Commentary - Old Testament
Books > Religion > Biblical Criticism & Interpretation - Old Testament

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-05-11
  • Reviewer: Staff

In her first book, Kushner, who teaches writing at Columbia College in Chicago, reports on her travels through the Bible in English translation. Thoroughly modern, though steeped in Jewish tradition (including the traditional way of reading the biblical text, which typically yields multiple possible meanings), Kushner comes from a family where the Bible and biblical grammar are discussed in Hebrew at the dinner table; she therefore finds the tone of certainty of English-language bibles jarring. As she notes the many surprising differences between the two languages, Kushner muses on the necessity and dangers of translation. To address the drawbacks of translation, she refers in her account to the interplay of her project and the rhythm of her Judaism, and the surprising ways in which her reading of the English Bible intersect with her life. The result is an engaging combination of close textual analysis and autobiographical detail. Most likely to be illuminating to those unfamiliar with the Hebrew Bible, Kushner’s exercise nevertheless sheds light on both Hebrew and English Bibles, so those already familiar with the Hebrew text will also be interested. Agent: Mary Evans, Mary Evans Inc. (Aug.)

 
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