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The Eternal

December 11, 2013

I have found “The Eternal” used in Jewish English Bible translations but it seems to have disappeared again. In the early 1800’s, the very successful Jewish author of fiction and non-fiction, Grace Aguilar, used the expression, The Eternal, in her writings. I found this in Let Her Speak for Herself. But Aguilar died in 1847, before a Jewish English Bible was published. She was, however, known and read by Benisch and encouraged him to produce a translation of the Hebrew Bible. He did this, and published it in 1852, several years after her death in 1847. We Know that both Aguilar and Benisch called God, The Eternal. We also know that this was lost in the JPS 1917 translation. We don’t know who brought “The Eternal” into English, but Aguilar spoke French and translated a book from French and Benisch spoke German. It may be useless to try to narrow this down further.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2013 12:31 pm

    We also know that this was lost in the JPS 1917 translation.

    “The Eternal” is notably absent not only from Robert Alter’s “Five Books of Moses” but also from Everett Fox’s “Five Books of Moses.” The latter, of course, is working much from the Buber-Rosenzweig German notes and translation. Fox, in his intro, remarks, on page xxix, “Historically, Jewish and Christian translations of the Bible into English have tended to use ‘Lord,’ with some exceptions (notably, Moffatt’s ‘The Eternal’).” Suzanne, Don’t you think it’s a bit curious for Fox to make James Moffatt the notable exception? (And Alter seems not to acknowledge “The Eternal” anywhere in any of his writings?)

  2. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 11, 2013 5:24 pm

    Well…. Fox didn’t have all these other Bible translations loaded up on the internet when he wrote that. It was harder to check. But I will blog more about the transition in B-R.

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