7/15/22

The Mishnah in a new and affordable English Edition

A new English translation of Mishnah edited by Robert Goldenberg (OBM), Shaye Cohen, and Hayim Lapin has been published for $645. In the Introduction two of the editors heap high praise on Rev. Herbert Danby's classic translation, which I edited and released and is now available in a beautiful new edition for $29. Here is what the other editors say about Danby.
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The Rev. Herbert Danby
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[From page 8] "In 1933, the Clarendon Press of Oxford University published The Mishnah Translated from the Hebrew with Introduction and Brief Explanatory Notes, by Herbert Danby, a volume of some 900 pages. It is a mark of the quality of Danby's work that it remains in print almost ninety years later. Our translation is completely independent of his, but we are aware that we are walking in his footsteps. For the Hebrew-less reader, unaccustomed to Mishnaic rhetoric and technical terminology, Danby's translation, [is] excellent in itself...
"Danby was a master translator, but the modern reader demands more from a translation than Danby provides. The goal of our Mishnah translation is to equal Danby's in quality and to surpass it in utility. In tribute to Herbert Danby, a philo-Semitic Christian Hebraist, we have retained almost unchanged his index of biblical passages and his table of weights, measures, and currency. We would have liked to retain his subject index, but we reluctantly came to the conclusion that it is too closely keyed to Danby's own translation and notes for it to be usable in a new setting.
"For biographical information about the Rev. Danby and an appreciation of his work, see the excellent article by Shalom Goldman in the journal Modern Judaism ("The Rev. Herbert Danby (1889-1953): Hebrew Scholar, Zionist, Christian Missionary," Modern Judaism-A Journal of Jewish Ideas and Experience, 27:2 (May 2007), pp. 219-245)."

From Goldman's article - we garner these insights:

"Danby’s most useful and widely-used contribution to the study of Jewish texts was his Mishnah translation. This translation quickly became a standard text in the English-speaking world and it remains in print seventy years after its publication. When, in 1988, Yale University Press published a new translation of the Mishnah, its editor, Jacob Neusner, made it clear that ‘‘publishing this fresh translation of the Mishnah constitutes no criticism of the great and pioneering translation by Herbert Danby. His translation has one fundamental flaw . . .He does not make the effort to translate the Hebrew into English words following the syntax of Mishnaic Hebrew . . . that is what the present translation, into American English, provides.’’ While Neusner’s translation takes us closer to the syntactical structure of the Hebrew of the Mishnah, Danby’s translation renders that text more immediately accessible and for that reason it remains the translation of record."

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My reaction is that it's good to see nice words about a classic Mishnah English Translation by Danby. But mystifying and a bit disappointing that the editors of the $645 edition have nothing to say in their introduction about numerous other recent and brilliant translations of Mishnah into English by for instance - Rabbi Steinsalz, or the edition by Artscroll (Schottenstein Edition of the Mishnah Elucidated - Complete 23 Volume Set), or the academic work edited by Jacob Neusner (which I contributed to), or the set by Pinhas Kehati, or editions rendering Mishnah into English by dozens of other scholars and rabbis.
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