Translating the Bible in the Middle Ages

We have participated in a session at the Symposium "Translating the Bible in the Middle Ages" held at Harvard University:

Translating the Bible in the Middle Ages

Panel One: The Arragel Bible Project and Spanish Bible Translation Studies

No single translation of the Bible has played a comparable role in the history of Spanish to that of the King James’ Bible in English or Luther’s Bibel in German. And yet there are more extant translations of the Bible into Old Spanish than into any other premodern European vernacular: a couple from the Latin Vulgate, but mostly from the Hebrew Bible, prepared at the behest of Hispano-Christian patrons by Jewish translators. Their sheer number and literary quality and the chronological range of surviving manuscripts that did not succumb to the Inquisitorial bonfires testify to their cumulative impact as an unified tradition in Iberian cultural history. Their comprehensive indebtedness to Rabbinic exegetical literature showcase, in turn, their complex ties with an internal tradition of Hispano-Jewish Biblical scholarship. They include, indeed, what is arguably the only commented Bible in a premodern European vernacular (other than Latin): the 15th century Biblia de Arragel, an illustrated Old Spanish codex with a full Bible translation and over six thousand exegetical glosses by a Rabbinic scholar, along with selected Christian addenda by two mendicant collaborators. Our panel will provide a broad overview of the Old Spanish Biblical corpus, its scholarly treatment and attendant issues for the comparative study of medieval Bible translations as exemplified in the long-term collaborative project that brought our group together here in Cambridge for the academic year: the first annotated critical edition and book-length study of the entire Arragel Codex.


Panel participants and titles (alphabetical order):

Gemma Avenoza
Associate Professor of Spanish Philology
Universitat de Barcelona


Andrés Enrique-Arias
Associate Professor of Spanish Philology
Universitat de les Illes Balears


Luis M. Girón Negrón
Professor of Comparative Literature and of Romance Languages and Literatures
Harvard University


Francisco Javier Pueyo-Mena
Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Madrid)


Ángel Sáenz-Badillos
Professor of Hebrew Philology, Complutense University (Madrid)
Outgoing Director of Real Colegio Complutense (Harvard University)