Transmutation, Semantic Shift, and Modification: Reading the Judeo-Arabic Kuzari in Hebrew and Arabic
This article is about the experience of preparing an Arabic edition of The Kuzari—the composition by Yehuda Halevi, one of the greatest Jewish poets of twelfth-century Andalusia—by an Arab researcher and translator. This experience raises many questions about cultural studies in general and translation in particular, which in turn bring up many other questions, such as how a work travels over time between different places, eras, and contexts. What changes, shifts, and modifications occur in it during its journeys and those transitions? Is it possible to bring a composition back to its authentic language, context, and landscapes, and if so, how? In this article I will try to offer answers to some of these questions, using The Kuzari as a case study, while wrestling with some of the historical, sociological, and intellectual layers of medieval Judeo-Arabic that are embedded in it and its Hebrew translations.