Luigi WALT, Paolo traduttore. Sulla distinzione tra spirito e lettera.
Brescia: Morcelliana, forthcoming (Jan. 2021). 128 pages.
Paul the Translator: On the Pauline Distinction between Spirit and Letter
Alongside the so-called ‘Mosaic distinction’, famously theorised by Jan Assmann in a series of landmark contributions, there is another conceptual opposition which has been playing a decisive role in the history of Western thought: it is that between spirit and letter, first introduced by Paul in a puzzling passage of his Second Letter to the Corinthians. It has often been argued that the Pauline distinction between spirit and letter would lie at the basis of all European reflection on the idea of translation. But what did the apostle actually mean by writing that “the letter kills” and “the spirit gives life”? And what is the red thread linking Paul’s musings about the “glory of Moses” to the seminal pages that Walter Benjamin dedicated, in the 20th century, to the messianic character of translation?
Moving from these questions, the book invites us to embark in a double archaeological investigation: on the one hand, by rereading Paul in the light of modern translation theories; and on the other by showing that the Western concept of translation cannot be properly understood without a reference to the paradigmatic figure of the apostle. Thus we will soon realise how it is the whole parable of Judaism and Christianity that appears to marked, from the very beginning, by an intricate web of translation experiments, and that ‘religion’ and ‘translation’ – as Benjamin argued – are so intimately connected that they cannot almost be conceived of as independent from each other.
Contents (in Italian)
Preludio. Seconda lettera ai Corinzi 3, 1-18
1. Il paradigma della traduzione
2. Il paradigma dell’apostolo
3. Nel territorio di Ermes
4. La distinzione paolina
5. La lettera e la gloria
Coda. Verso una teoria messianica della lingua
Appendice. Testo greco di 2 Corinzi 3, 1-18
Indice delle fonti
Indice degli autori moderni