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The Septuagint and its role in the birth and spread of Christianity

ucyow3c22 January 2015

pencil-iconWritten by Wenqing Peng, UCL Arts & Humanitites PhD student

Painting of Jesus

Credit: James Shepard.

The Septuagint, or the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, plays a crucial role in the spread of Christianity into a world religion, from its roots as a minor Jewish sect. Dr. Aleksander Gomola (Jagiellonian University) presented a range of illustrations of the nuances in translation that influenced the writers of the New Testament and the subsequent direction of Christianity itself.

In the first part of the talk, Dr Gomola examined the legend and fact of the Septuagint (LXX): a koine Greek version of the Hebrew Bible. The legend of the translation is found in the pseudepigraphic Letter of Aristeas to his brother Philocrates in the 2nd century BCE, which elaborated on the invitation by Ptolemy II Philadephus to 72 Jewish scholars to translate the first five books of the Hebrew Bible into Greek for the Library of Alexandria, and how they accomplished this feat in 72 days.

Dr Gomola then explained the significance of the relation between the LXX and Greek thought: the LXX revised the hierarchy of the Greek classics and the writings of Jewish patriarchs and prophets.


A trilingual adventure with Benjamin and Berman

ucyow3c1 December 2014

pencil-icon Written by Jake Christophersen (MA student, UCL Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry)

‘Equivalence’ is a word that has occupied a central part of translation theory since the very foundation of the discipline. How important does this term become when embarking on a ‘trilingual translation journey’? The third instalment of the Translation in History lecture series, which was given by Dr Chantal Wright from the University of Warwick, dealt with the question of equivalence in translation as well as fundamental questions, such as ‘Why do we translate?’

Dr Chantal Wright

Dr Chantal Wright

The audience was taken on a translational voyage through the various aspects of Dr Wright’s current research project of translating Antoine Berman’s 1984–85 lecture series, a commentary of Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Task of the Translator’, and the trouble the translator encounters in the process.

Dr Wright began the lecture by introducing the audience to both Berman and Benjamin, renowned translation theorists and their work, followed by a discussion on the motivation for translating and who translation is for.

Providing concrete examples of difficulties encountered at an early stage of the translation process, Dr Wright effortlessly held the attention of the congregation of translation enthusiasts attending her lecture.


Translating the poem: Henri Meschonnic’s poetics of translating

ucyow3c28 October 2014


Written by Silvia Kadiu (PhD student, UCL Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry)

Dr Marko Pajević

Dr Marko Pajević

Translating poetry is a notoriously difficult, if not entirely impossible, task. Yet, poems are translated into other languages all the time. Why is poetry such a challenging genre to translate? What does this impossibility tell us about the nature of language? And how can one overcome it in practice? Dr Marko Pajević’s exploration of Henri Meschonnic’s philosophy of language and particular way of thinking translation, given as part of the Translation in History lecture series, provided compelling answers to these questions.

His comprehensive and clearly-organised lecture took the audience on an inspiring meander into Meschonnic’s thinking. After introducing Meschonnic and his work, Dr Pajević then discussed the linguistic philosophies of Emile Benveniste and Wilhelm von Humboldt, before explaining how they influenced and shaped Meschonnic’s poetics, politics and ethics of translating. Continuously navigating between theoretical and practical considerations, Dr Pajević’s presentation exemplified the central idea of Meschonnic’s poetics: the inseparability of form and content.

Henri Meschonnic (1932-2009) is a relatively unknown figure in the Anglophone world. A French poet, linguist and translator, he is the author of over a dozen texts about translation, only one of which has been translated into English: Ethics and Politics of Translating (2011). Dr Pajević explained the reasons for this lack of recognition, stressing Meschonnic’s controversial positioning and deliberate isolation throughout his career, especially in opposing influential movements such as hermeneutics, structuralism and deconstruction.


Subtitles, Surtitles & Supertitles

Siobhan Pipa30 May 2014


Surtitling in action

Subtitled films and programmes used to be the preserve of art house cinemas or specialist TV channels, whilst English speaking versions of popular foreign shows would be commissioned to fill prime-time slots.

And although English speaking recreations are still being commissioned, we are now much more likely to catch the original, in all its subtitled glory, right alongside it.

As a whole we seem to be more accepting of subtitles than ever before, especially if the wave of hugely popular Nordic noir dramas to hit our screens is any indication and in her UCL Festival of the Arts talk ‘Subtitles, Surtitles & Supertitles’, Dr Geraldine Brodie (UCL Translation Studies) has her own theory as to why this is.