CfA PaRDeS: Transformative Translations in Jewish History and Culture

Markus Krah's picture
Call for Papers
May 31, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Jewish History / Studies, Literature, Religious Studies and Theology, Cultural History / Studies, Intellectual History

Translations have played an outsized role in Jewish history and culture, reflecting the importance of texts, their transmission, and the multilingualism of Jewish cultural life. The divergence between Hebrew as the sacred Jewish language, medium of divine revelation and religious practice, and Yiddish and other Jewish vernaculars, raises questions about Jewish distinctiveness and even an essence of Jewishness, hence questions of (in-)translatabilty.

At the same time, translations from such “Jewish languages” into others have paved ways for greater Jewish interaction with other cultures, which, in turn shaped and enriched Jewish culture. The translation into languages such as Hebrew and Yiddish, in turn, contributed not just to the modernization not just of these languages, but to an expansion of the epistemological horizons of their users.

The innovative and transformative potential of translations can perform the same function at the level of individual texts. This potential can be particularly powerful in translations of sacred texts and others claiming a particular spiritual or aesthetic status. Translations can both stabilize and destabilize boundaries, between Jews and others, between the sacred and profane, but also between different expressions of Judaism and its cultural traditions, various social strata of Jewish communities, as well as between Israel and the diaspora.

PaRDeS, the journal of the German Association of Jewish Studies (Vereinigung für Jüdische Studien, VJS) will devote its 2019 issue to the transformative role of translations in early modern and modern Jewish history, culture, and religion. We invite contributions – in English or German – which may deal with, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • translations of specific texts, fictional and non-fictional, and their impact in history, culture, and religion;
  • translations as strategies for negotiating Jewish particularism and universalism;
  • translations and questions of authority, authenticity, and legitimacy;
  • questions about the distinctiveness of Jewishness and the (in-)translatability of words and concepts;
  • translations and the modernization, secularization, or sacralization of texts;
  • the (gendered) politics, practices, and effects of translating;
  • translations from/in other Jewish languages than Hebrew and Yiddish, e.g. Ladino;
  • translations of/into non-textual cultural products of Jewish relevance.

We invite standard-length articles (30,000-35,000 characters, incl. blanks), but also shorter outlines of current research projects (e.g. dissertations, 7,500-12,500 characters); they will undergo a peer review. Please send a one-page abstract (ca. 500 words) and a 100-word CV in English or German by May 31, 2018 to the editors Markus Krah and Mirjam Thulin at We will inform the authors about the acceptance of their proposals by June 15. The deadline for contributions will be November 15, 2018. We also invite reviews of recent books relevant to the volume’s topic; please contact the editor for reviews, Bianca Pick (

PaRDeS is an interdisciplinary, fully double blind peer-reviewed, and Rambi-indexed journal, published online (open access) and in print. Previous issues of our journal can be found by following this link:

Contact Info: 

Markus Krah, Ph.D.

Lecturer Jewish Religious and Intellectual History

University of Potsdam, School of Jewish Theology

Am Neuen Palais 10, D-14469 Potsdam, Germany