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Title: Martin Luther's Hebrew in mid-career : the Minor Prophets translation
Author: Niggemann, Andrew John
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 1561
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This dissertation provides a comprehensive account of Martin Luther’s Hebrew translation in his academic mid-career. Apart from the Psalms, no book of the Hebrew Bible has yet been examined in any comprehensive manner in terms of Luther’s Hebrew translation. Moreover, research to date has predominantly focused on either ascertaining Luther’s personal Hebrew skills, or on identifying his sources for Hebrew knowledge. This dissertation furthers the scholarly understanding of Luther’s Hebrew by examining his Minor Prophets translation, one of the final pieces of his first complete translation of the Hebrew Bible. As part of the analysis, it investigates the relationship between philology and theology in his Hebrew translation, focusing specifically on one of the themes that dominated his interpretation of the Prophets: his concept of Anfechtung. Chapter 1 establishes the context of Luther’s academic mid-career Hebrew, providing a brief sketch of the history of his Minor Prophets translation, followed by an overview of the Hebrew resources in and around Wittenberg which he had to draw upon. Chapter 2 examines the role of the obscurity of the Hebrew text in his translation, and how this obscurity led to various types of contradictions and vacillations in his interpretations. Chapter 3 investigates the role that Luther’s sense of the semantic intensity of the Hebrew language played in his translation. Chapter 4 examines Luther’s use of “inner-biblical interpretation” – i.e. biblical quotations and references – to support, and moreover, to build his translations of the Hebrew texts. Finally, Chapter 5 examines the influence of Hebrew on Luther’s exploitation of the mystical tradition in his translation of the Minor Prophets. This dissertation, in short, shows that by mid-career, the impact of Hebrew on Luther’s Bible translation was immense and very diverse, more so than has been appreciated. It expands the frame of reference with which scholars can understand Luther’s Hebrew. It provides detailed analyses of many examples of his Hebrew translation which have never before been discussed or examined in any depth, and it provides hundreds of examples of his methodological handling of Hebrew translation issues. And it includes one of the most exhaustive analyses to date of three key philological challenges that confronted him in translating the Bible: Hebrew figures of speech, the Hebrew trope of repetition, and Hebrew transliteration. This dissertation also includes as an Appendix a substantial body of refined data from Luther’s Hebrew translation, which further illuminates the examples in this study, and facilitates additional analysis for future research.
Supervisor: Rex, Richard ; Dell, Katharine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Luther ; Hebrew ; Humanism ; Christian Hebraism ; Jewish ; Mysticism ; German ; Medieval ; Late Medieval ; Early Modern ; Intertextuality ; Hebrew Bible ; Bible ; Deutsche Bibel ; Old Testament ; Minor Prophets ; Anfechtung ; Reformation ; Jewish-Christian Relations ; Bible Translation