From his days at a graduate student at Harvard University (from which he received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations), Greenspoon has been interested in translations of the Bible. Many of his publications—he has edited or authored more than a dozen books, written more than two hundred articles and book chapters, and penned almost 500 book reviews—deal with aspects of this fascinating subject. He has written on topics ranging from the earliest translation of the Bible, called the Septuagint, to versions of the Bible composed as recently as last year. He is recognized internationally as an expert on the history of Jewish Bible translations, and he has been involved in two Bible translation projects as editor or consultant. In recent years, Greenspoon has published in several areas of popular culture, including Jews (and, more generally, religion) in the comic strips and the use (or misuse) of the Bible in the daily press. He writes a column on the latter for Biblical Archaeology Review and incorporates all of these interests in his role as editor of The FORUM, published by the Society of Biblical Literature.
Montreat Gathering, May 22 – May 28, 2016
One Text, Many Contexts: What Endures and What Changes As the Bible Moves Chronologically, Geographically, and Culturally from Antiquity to the Modern World
For the most part, the text of the Bible was fixed by late antiquity, but its interpretations (misinterpretations?) and applications (misapplications?) have varied and continue to vary considerably. What are some examples? How have they happened? What makes the difference between acceptable and unacceptable? These are the issues we will look at, discuss, and evaluate interactively.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVIII, November 20 – 22, 2015
And the Walls Came Tumbling Down? Once More with Joshua to Jericho
In many ways, issues related to the narratives in Joshua 2 and 6 remain as intractable today as they were a century ago, even though there have been substantial contributions made in the fields of archaeology, history, and literary studies. A review of proposals, supplemented by a foray into Jericho in popular culture, demonstrates the vast number of perspectives that have been brought forward on this issue. We will demonstrate that a return to careful reading of the texts (in Hebrew and in Greek) will yield insights that allow us to properly evaluate modern proposals—and, more importantly, to understand ancient events.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVI, November 22 – 24, 2013
Laughing With—Not At—the Writers of the Bible
The writers of the Bible—Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, New Testament, and Apocrypha—had a well-developed sense of humor. This seems certain. What is equally certain is that they exercised their sense of humor through a wide variety of topics and targets, from the emptiness of idol worship to the pretentiousness of vainglorious leaders. Moreover, these writers could choose from a number of approaches, such as satire, irony, and plays on words. Not all examples of Biblical humor are easy to discern, however the more we know about the ancient life and languages of the peoples described in the Biblical narratives, the more we can appreciate what made them laugh—or at least smile. Yes, religion is serious business. In fact, it is this very seriousness that evokes and often requires a sense of humor. As such, laughing with, not at, sacred texts is an essential part of understanding them, which is what this presentation does with numerous illustrations and examples.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XIV, November 18 – 20, 2011
On the 400th Anniversary of the King James Version: Ten Common Misconceptions about Bible Translation
There are several commonly held perceptions of Bible translation: Committees produce the best translations of the Bible, versions of the Bible should aim to be theologically neutral and religiously inclusive, literal translations contain the most faithful renderings, the translators of the King James Version believed that they were divinely inspired and empowered, and finally, when all is said and done, all versions of the Bible are basically the same. Are these notions accurate? This lecture examines these and other propositions to discern how and why commonly held conceptions can become misconceptions. In the process we will observe—and celebrate—the fact that studying Bible translations can be a thoroughly rewarding and unexpectedly exciting experience.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XII, November 20 – 22, 2009
Ten Common Misconceptions about Bible Translation: How I Learned to Live with—and Even Love—Modern Versions of the Bible
Many people seek the “best” (if not the “perfect”) Bible translation. Such a quest is made all the more difficult because today’s Bible readers have more choices than ever. I will propose that these choices, which some see as an obstacle, are in fact a “blessing.” Furthermore, modern versions of the Bible can provide us—all of us, scholars included—with valuable insights. This presentation will include a number of illustrations and examples. Active audience participation is encouraged.