Monday, October 03, 2016

Profile of a Zohar translator

ZOHAR WATCH: New translation of Jewish mystical text for a new audience (Kristin E. Holmes,
For the last six years, Joel Hecker, an associate professor at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, has pored over a set of medieval writings to help unlock one of the most important texts in Judaism.

Hecker, 56, of Bala Cynwyd, has dissected centuries-old manuscripts and translated hundreds of pages of Aramaic to contribute to a new English translation of the Zohar, a compendium of commentaries and essays that is the foundation of the Jewish mystical tradition known as Kabbalah.


Hecker, who trained as a rabbi and later studied for his doctorate under Wolfson, is part of the translation team led by Daniel C. Matt, a Kabbalah scholar and former professor at Graduate Theological Union seminary in Berkeley, Calif.

Matt began translating Volumes 1 through 9 in 1997. He selected Hecker and Nathan Wolski, of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University, in Victoria, Australia, to join the project in 2010 and help complete it.

Hecker's Volume 11 contains commentaries on the Song of Songs (also known as the Song of Solomon) and the Books of Ruth and Lamentations. He and Wolski collaborated on Volume 12, which has discussions of the ancient and medieval practice of deducing character traits from hands and facial features.

Past posts on the Zohar, and Daniel Matt's Zohar translation project, are here with many, many links.