Jewish studies in the Bohemian lands : a review of the Czech translation of Günter Stemberger, Einführung in die Judaistik
Source document: Religio. 2011, vol. 19, iss. 2, pp. -236
ISSN1210-3640 (print)2336-4475 (online)
License: Not specified license
The publication of the Czech translation of Günter Stemberger's Einführung in die Judaistik (Úvod do judaistiky, trans. Štěpán Zbytovský, Prague: Vyšehrad 2010) is an apt occasion for reflection about the situation of the discipline in the Bohemian Lands and how its progress may be enhanced through carefully chosen translations of authoritative secondary texts. Stemberger's book, despite its promising title, has very little to say about the contemporary state of the discipline. The bulk of the volume consists of a survey of Jewish history from the Post-Exilic Era to the Middle Ages (125 out of 232 pages) while very little space (23 pages) is dedicated to the definition of the discipline and its history. Unfortunately, the book misses its point not only in the apparent contradiction between its goal and content but also in that the text itself does not meet contemporary standards of academic writing (no footnotes, no references, incomplete and arbitrary bibliography). The reviewer argues that translations of such works not only do not help but even obstruct the advancement of Jewish Studies in small national languages. Translated texts automatically enter the local "canon" irrespective of their quality while the limits of the publishing market do not allow for the publication of a better title, as such a title would be viewed by the publisher as a mere duplicate of the first.