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Lamrot Hakol (Despite Everything)

Musings and kvetchings and Torah thoughts from an unconventional Orthodox Jew.

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"I blog, therefore I am". Clearly not true, or I wouldn't exist except every now and then.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Yehoshua Etzion, z'l

On January 30, 2006, Yehoshua Etzion passed away suddenly. I heard about it from his wife, Dalia, on February 9.

Yehoshua Etzion was a violinist with the Jerusalem Symphony, and the author of התנ"ך האבוד (The Lost Bible), published by Schocken Publishing House in 1992. I had read a summary of the book, which you can read for yourselves here, back in the 1980s, and I was very excited when the book was released. I looked forward to seeing it translated into English, because it is a very important work.

Etzion would be termed an amateur archaeologist, in that he possessed no degrees in the field, but he possessed something better, in my view, than academic training. He had an incisive mind, and a curiosity and a drive to find the truth that simply would not rest.

I met and spoke with Yehoshua on a couple of occasions. His work and my own, while differing in some areas, were similar enough that we found a commonality of purpose. I translated a small section from his book and posted it on my site, and in turn, Yehoshua linked to it on his own site.

Schocken did not feel it was worth translating Yehoshua's book into English. I think this decision is a major mistake. But, as Yehoshua related to me the last time we met, he had been subjected in Israel to many of the same types of "dirty tricks" that the late Immanuel Velikovsky was subjected to in his time. Invitations to speak which were endorsed by mainstream scholars were revoked when advocates of the conventional archaeological dating threatened boycotts. The decision makers at Schocken apparently felt that this would make it difficult to sell The Lost Bible in an English edition.

A couple of years ago, I contacted Yehoshua's editor at Schocken. With his consent and blessings, of course. She explained to me that Schocken would be willing to have the book translated and published, but only as what I would call a "vanity publishing" exercise. In other words, for a set cost, they would have the book translated, and would do a print run of 2,000 copies of the book, which would be shipped to me in Chicago. Selling them would be my problem.

I was willing to undertake this, but the amount in question was over $32,000. And fundraising has never been my strong suit.

I honestly believe that getting this book translated into English and published is incredibly important. It is important in terms of our understanding of history. And it is important in terms of Jewish education. I related in an earlier post how I came to be an Orthodox Jew. I had friends in the Orthodox high school who went in the opposite direction, and in at least one case, a friend explained to me that after learning in college that science disproves the historicity of the Bible, she couldn't continue being Orthodox. I believe that she is one of thousands, even tens of thousands, of young Jews who are bombarded with a false impression that one must choose between archaeology and accepting the truth of Judaism. I have seen, on various blogs and e-mail lists, that even Jews who continue to identify as Orthodox are losing their emunah, because they lack the tools with which to see that it isn't the archaeology that is in conflict with the Tanach, but only the way the archaeological evidence is dated.

So... while I don't know what the cost would be, currently, to get Yehoshua Etzion's book translated and issued in English (prices may have gone up in the past few years), I am asking anyone who thinks they could either raise the $32,000 or so that I mentioned before, or who knows others who can, to contact me, so that we can accomplish this. I feel extremely guilty that I was not able to do this in time for Yehoshua to see it himself, but I do believe it would be a terrific way to honor him, even aside from the other reasons I've mentioned.


Blogger Deb said...

Lisa, I am looking for a full translation of Etzion's book. Do you have a link to it? I know you have 4 sections online, I have found that link.

2:03 AM  

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