This new translation of the first five books of the Bible (i.e., Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) is a landmark study. Combining his vast knowledge of ancient Hebrew with the most recent scholarship, Alter (Hebrew & comparative literature, Berkeley; The Art of Biblical Poetry) seeks to reproduce as faithfully as possible in standard English the nuances, literary devices, and metaphors of the original Hebrew text. In doing so, he aims to show where many modern translations (including the King James Bible) have failed to represent the original Hebrew's varied nuances. In his commentary, found in the introductions to each book and on many individual verses, Alter expounds the theological meaning of the text's narrative in its larger biblical context. While acknowledging the scholarly consensus that the Pentateuch may have been composed of four literary sources (i.e., J, the Yahwist; E, the Eloist; P, the Priestly; and D, the Deuteronomic), his commentary seeks to examine the text in light of its own narrative structure. Highly recommended for all academic libraries and for public libraries with large religion collections.-Charles Murray, C.S.S., White Plains, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.Review by PW Annex Reviews
This brilliant and rigorous book by Alter, who teaches Hebrew and comparative literature at Berkeley, strikes the perfect balance. It delves into literary and biblical scholarship, yet is accessible to the general reader. It argues forcefully and persuasively, but is never arrogant, even when Alter is detailing the inadequacies of other biblical translations. It points to the ways a single Hebrew word can make all the difference in our understanding of the text, but it never loses the forest for the trees. In a stimulating and thorough introduction, Alter makes a case for the coherence of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) as a whole, while acknowledging that it is "manifestly a composite construction" that was written and edited by many people over several centuries. He discusses why we need yet another translation, contending that every existing English translation has an anemic sense of the English language, while the King James Version—the most beautiful and literary English-language translation—is unreliable and sometimes inaccurate with the original Hebrew. After this energizing introduction, Alter proceeds with his eminently readable translation and fascinating footnotes on various Hebrew terms. This may well be the best one-volume introduction to the Torah ever published in English. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
An English-language translation of the Hebrew bible for contemporary readers seeks to convey the text's original power and lyrical qualities, providing in the accompanying commentary additional insight into its literary and historical significance. 25,000 first printing.Review by Publisher Summary 2
"A modern classic....Thrilling and constantly illuminating."—Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book WorldReview by Publisher Summary 3
Through a distinguished career of critical scholarship and translation, Robert Alter has equipped us to read the Hebrew Bible as a powerful, cohesive work of literature. In this landmark work, Alter's masterly translation and probing commentary combine to give contemporary readers the definitive edition of The Five Books. Winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Translation and the Koret Jewish Book Award for Translation, a Newsweek Top 15 Book, Los Angeles Times Favorite Book, and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book.Review by Publisher Summary 4
Washington Post Book WorldReview by Publisher Summary 5
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