via a few levels of translation
Once I wrote a series of blogposts, just on one name of just one book of the Bible:
I guess I have this sort of obsessive aversion to taking for granted the translational and rhetorical wordplay in old Greek loan words in Hebrew. Some of the first translators of the Hebrew Bible into Hellene seemed intentionally to riff off of the old Greek epics, the written-down and also the publicly recited and performed plays and playfulnesses. In Alexandria, Egypt, where the translating was going on, it was as if ἔξ οδος (“Ex-Odos”), the re-named second book of the Five Books of Moses, were to be read and recited as bigger than the Odyssey, of the Two Epics of Odyssean Homer.
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat’s wonderful post today gets into some of this. She writes:
Beginning. Names. God Called. In the Wilderness. The Words. To me these names evoke an entirely different set of associations than Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
The names we most often use in English come to us via a few levels of translation.
Her post is thoughtful and does get us wondering. Read “What’s in a name? Torah, meanings, translation” here.