Jörg Frey

A Belief, 66 Books, and the Art of Translation

The Bible is a book comprising of 66 books. It has two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. It developed over the course of 1,000 years (from approximately 900 BC to AD 100), collected by both Jews and Christians.

While some claim to know what the Bible says, for others, it remains a book with seven seals. The discipline of theology attempts to make these texts understandable for people today who speak different languages and who come from different worlds and cultures. In this way, we have and are always getting new translations and paraphrasings of the Bible, which are as various as the times and place in which they were first received. In the exhibition, three different Bibles are on display: the Greek text of the New Testament (Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece), the fruit of the Zurich Reformation – the so called Zurich Bible – as well as the Volxbibel in the slang used by teenagers.

If you compare the different renderings and interpretations of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3), which one speaks most to you?

Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. (Greek)

Selig die Armen im Geist; ihnen gehört das Himmelreich. (Zurich Bible)

Glücklich zu preisen sind die, die arm sind vor Gott, denn ihnen gehört das Himmelreich. (New Geneva translation)

Wohl denen, die arm sind vor Gott und es wissen. Ihnen gehört das Reich der Himmel. (Walter Jens)

Selig sind, die arm sind vor Gott und für seinen Geist bereit. Ihrer ist das Reich Gottes. (Jörg Zink)

Richtig glücklich sind die Leute, die kapiert haben, dass sie Gott mit nichts beeindrucken können. Sie werden mit Gott in dem Land leben, wo er das Sagen hat. (Volxbibel)

Selig sind die Dummen, denn sie merken es nicht. (colloquial)

Bescheidenheit ist eine Zier, (doch weiter kommt man ohne ihr). (conventional wisom)

Dr. Jörg Frey is Professor of New Testament Studies with a focus on Ancient Judaism and Hermeneutics at the Theological Institute at the University of Zurich. More

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