The double conversion of Ben-Hur
A case of manipulative translation
Ever since the 18th century revival of Hebrew literature, translation has been considered an efficient tool for ideological manipulation. Christianity has been a traditional candidate for such manipulation. Fear and hatred of the “younger” religion may have accounted for the subversive treatment of Christian elements in Hebrew texts. Strategies varied, depending on period and norm, mostly involving omission of undesirable material, but often converting the text into a more acceptable ideological type. Ben-Hur: A tale of the Christ (1880) by Lew Wallace is one of the novels most translated and most tampered with, and due to its predominantly Christian character, it can serve as an illuminating case study both for the subversion of Christian elements and for the more “creative” conversion into the “Few against Many” or “Jewish bravura against the Roman Empire” model.
Keywords: ideological manipulation, subversion of translated texts, self-censorship, Christianity & Judaism, Jesus in Jewish & Hebrew culture, fear of the “Other”, history rewritten, conversion and assimilation in translated literature, translation norms, shifting of norms, adaptation for children
Published online: 19 June 2003
[ p. 299 ]References
Bialik, Chaim Nachman
Jost, Isaak Markus[ p. 300 ]
Mayo, Louise A.
Meyer, Michael A. and Michael Brenner
Toury, Gideon[ p. 301 ]
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