“Ruden’s rhetoric throughout is sharp and bright, as compulsively readable as she contends the originals were written to be… Her thinking about the Gospels as works of literature is electrifying, and it’s often reflected in her translation choices… One of Ruden’s obvious goals – to transform these most familiar of ancient texts into fresh reading experiences – is reached on every page. The Gospel of St. John in particular comes alive at her touch, revealing all its great strangeness.” –The Christian Science Monitor
“Ruden (The Face of Water) wrestles fresh meaning from Christianity’s sacred texts in her startling new translation of the four Gospels. Working from the original Greek text and within the context of the ancient Greco-Roman-Jewish era, Ruden strives to rescue a ‘defensively hermetic’ text from ‘under the muffling, alien weight of later Christian institutions.’ The result makes the familiar unfamiliar and intriguing… This audacious translation is essential reading for anyone who thinks they already know the Gospels.” –Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review
“Ruden is one of the leading translators of ancient classical literature and has taken a unique and innovative approach in this latest book… Her translation draws closely from the Greek text, showing clearly such elements as wordplay, humor, color, and imagery. She also takes care to translate with contemporary readers in mind, avoiding words and phrases that might be misleading or unclear… An instructive and thought-provoking translation of the Gospels, and their historical context, that will interest a variety of readers, from students to scholars.” –Library Journal
Sarah Ruden. PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Jenny Miller.
Sarah Ruden is a leading translator of the ancient literature of the West. In a career spanning both essential Greek and Roman Classics and sacred literature, she has set new standards for accuracy, stylistic integrity, and accessibility. Her work, including cultural and human-rights journalism, is deeply concerned with questions of power and truth, in accordance with her Quaker faith. She has won Guggenheim, Whiting, and Silvers grants, and numerous other awards.
Her new translation of the Gospels is inspired by George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, and particularly by his commitment to a more direct experience of the Bible.
“And then he went on, and opened the Scriptures, and said, ‘The Scriptures were the prophets’ words and Christ’s and the apostles’ words, and what as they spoke they enjoyed and possessed and had it from the Lord’; and said, ‘Then what had any to do with the Scriptures, but as they came to the Spirit that gave them forth? You will say, Christ saith this, and the apostles say this; but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light and hast walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly from God?'”
David Rosenberg is the bestselling co-author and translator of The Book of J, about the origins of the written Bible, as well as An Educated Man: A Dual Biography of Moses and Jesus. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, former editor of The Jewish Publication Society of America and Israel’s Institute for Translation of Hebrew Literature, and biographer of the historical Abraham, Moses, and Jesus in their Sitz im leben (sociological setting). He was visiting creative writing professor at Princeton, Hopwood Fellow at the University of Michigan, and Graduate Writing Fellow at Syracuse, among other universities where he has taught.
Rosenberg’s award-winning A Poet’s Bible is among several of his books that were chosen as New York Times notable books of the year. As senior editor at Harcourt and elsewhere, he commissioned several anthologies of preeminent American writers, including Congregation on the Jewish Bible and Communion on comparative Old and New Testaments. Of his own development as a translator, he has written: “Recently, I came to know a young English professor interested in my youthful editorship of The Ant’s Forefoot, a periodical of avant-garde poetry. I attempted to explain how I, a translator of Rimbaud and student of the Blues, turned into a biblical scholar. Rimbaud stopped writing poetry, moved to a country along the Red Sea, and studied science, just as I moved from Manhattan to Israel and pursued the origins of Hebrew authorship. That is, how one becomes a writer for a tiny, ancient readership in Jerusalem that wants history delivered with the truth test of great poetry”.
Rosenberg lives in Miami with his wife, Dr. Rhonda Rosenberg. His latest book, A Life in a Poem (Shearsman Books, 2019), is a memoir centered on biblical translation.