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The Face of Water

A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible

Sarah Ruden


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Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (3/28/2017)


In this dazzling reconsideration of the language of the Old and New Testaments, acclaimed scholar and translator of classical literature Sarah Ruden argues that the Bible’s modern translations often lack the clarity and vitality of the originals. Singling out the most famous passages, such as the Genesis creation story, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Beatitudes, Ruden reexamines and retranslates from the Hebrew and Greek, illuminating what has been misunderstood and obscured in standard English translations. By showing how the original texts more clearly reveal our cherished values, Ruden gives us an unprecedented understanding of what this extraordinary document was for its earliest readers and what it can still be for us today.

Praise For The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible

“A meaty work that will delight both those who are fascinated by language, and those who care deeply about the Bible and how we read and interpret it.” —RELEVANT Magazine

“This combination of casual ease and serious scholarship allows Ruden to bring fresh insights into even the most familiar stories and will make the book a true pleasure for anyone with an interest in translation or the Bible.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“If you seriously want to know what the Bible says . . . Ruden is the best guide you are likely to find: friendly, informal, yet with a scholarly grasp of just how unrealizable perfect translation is.” —J. M. Coetzee

“Feisty, iconoclastic, but ultimately winsome. . . . Ruden’s writing is delightful, her overall proposal provocative, and her examples compelling. . . . Her approach to translation recovers the emotion and artistry of God’s Word.” —Christianity Today

“Contains some of the most sumptuous words about Bible words that I’ve ever read. . . . Ruden reminds us of the loveliness of language and the joy that sacred words can deliver.” —The Christian Century

"Ruden finds hidden meaning in the intricate arrangement of the ancient vocabularies, poetics, and lifestyles, and therein lies the fun.” —Kirkus Reviews

Vintage, 9780525563655, 272pp.

Publication Date: December 4, 2018

About the Author

SARAH RUDEN was educated at the University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins, and Harvard, from which she graduated with a Ph.D. in Classical philology. She has translated six books of Classical literature and contributed her Aeschylus’s Oresteia to a collection of tragedy in English. Her translation of Augustine’s Confessions was her first book-length work of sacred literature. She is also the author of a book of poetry, Other Places. Ruden is a visiting scholar at Brown University and lives in Hamden, Connecticut.