The Art of the Bible

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Robert Alter
  • Princeton, NJ: 
    Princeton University Press
    , March
     2019.
     152 pages.
     $24.95.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780691181493.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Jonathan Homrighausen forthcoming.

Description

In this brief book, award-winning biblical translator and acclaimed literary critic Robert Alter offers a personal and passionate account of what he learned about the art of Bible translation over the two decades he spent completing his own English version of the Hebrew Bible.

Alter’s literary training gave him the advantage of seeing that a translation of the Bible can convey the text’s meaning only by trying to capture the powerful and subtle literary style of the biblical Hebrew, something the modern English versions don’t do justice to. The Bible’s style, Alter writes, “is not some sort of aesthetic embellishment of the ‘message’ of Scripture but the vital medium through which the biblical vision of God, human nature, history, politics, society, and moral value is conveyed.” And, as the translators of the King James Version knew, the authority of the Bible is inseparable from its literary authority.

For these reasons, the Bible can be brought to life in English only by re-creating its literary virtuosity, and Alter discusses the principal aspects of style in the Hebrew Bible that any translator should try to reproduce: word choice, syntax, word play and sound play, rhythm, and dialogue. In the process, he provides an illuminating and accessible introduction to biblical style that also offers insights about the art of translation far beyond the Bible.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Robert Alter is Professor of the Graduate School and Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments