This book was unexpected, to say the least! It all began when I was finishing up Israel and the Assyrians, in spring 2013, and sent the manuscript to Jeremy Hutton, who was reading in Descriptive Translation Studies and in Optimality Theory. The opportunity for collaboration came with an invitation to edit a special issue of the journal Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel, for which Hutton chose the theme ‘Epigraphy, Theory, and the Hebrew Bible’, proposing that we co-author an article on the translation technique of the Tell Fekheriyeh inscription and its implications for the study of Deuteronomy.
The article, we thought, might be a bit long – 15,000 words or so. We were aiming for a deadline of December 2016. By November 2017, we had written nearly 40,000 words on just the first half of the inscription (Fekh. A) and were apologising to the editors for holding up the volume! Very kindly, the editors proposed that we produce an abbreviated version of the article for the journal, then develop a slightly longer version for Mohr Siebeck’s series Forschungen zum Alten Testament.
A year later, we were still wrestling with how to defend dealing with Fekh. B as an instance of translation, bringing in more work on bilingualism and cognitive theory – along with several video conference-style writing sessions – in the process of finding a solution. The overall result is less the “short monograph” that the editors envisioned than it is a full-size monograph, but we’re no less delighted with the results!