I have already described how much I am appreciating the Mahzor Lev Shalem. In its Introduction (page x) it describes some principles that have guided the translation. I think some of these principles so good they can be used well beyond the Mahzor, and well beyond translating Hebrew.
1. We believe the translation ought to reflect the Hebrew original as closely as possible, allowing the English reader to experience the text without a filter, and allowing the congregant who has some basic familiarity with Hebrew to find familiar words. When the Hebrew text is jarring, which it sometimes is, the English translation ought not to smooth over the difficulty
2. The Hebrew prose frequently borders on the poetic, and the translation ought to convey some sense of that in its cadence, in its form, and in its use of language.
3. The translation ought to be prayerful; it ought to put the English reader in the mood of prayer.
4. Because each language has a distinct grammar, we have sometimes changed the word order, syntax, and sentence structure to create an appropriate English translation.
5. A contemporary American translation needs to be gender-neuitral as far as possible, while conveying the intent and meaning of the original. Sometimes this has necessitated changing the third person in the original to the second person, in this translation.
6. We have consulted previous translations…
There are some standout moments in the translation. I am particularly fascinated by the translation of acrostic prayers in Hebrew as acrostic prayers in English!
- Mahzor Lev Shalem
- The Bible says 5
- not ANOTHER Bible translation
- Failed 1998 English Missal translation
- Contemporary Lord’s Prayer forbidden