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The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with…

The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary (2004)

by Robert Alter (Translator)

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7091119,855 (4.58)3 / 45

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Effete yet masterful. This is about as close to the original as a non-Hebrew reading public will get. No, it's not the KJV, but it's not The Way either. ( )
  Gershayim | Nov 1, 2016 |
Well, I've finished Genesis, and I really don't see what all the excitement is about. For beauty, this new translation is so far behind the King James as not even to be in the same race. For meaning, I have not yet seen that any of Prof. Alter's changes makes much difference. That leaves the notes. Some of these are rather technical and contain interesting information. Many if not most, however, are just Prof. Alter's opinions on history and literature. I suppose these have some interest, considering that the Professor is an accomplished scholar, but one gets tired of reading a text of this importance to the counterpoint of reductionist comments. Mr. Alter's point as to the integrity and sophistication of the text doesn't sit very well with his whole-hearted acceptance of the documentary hypothesis. Our old, shadowy friend the Priestly Redactor makes frequent appearances, with his usual combination of genius and ham-handedness.

Maybe there will be more scope for the Professor's method in Exodus.
  cstebbins | Sep 27, 2015 |
Robert Alter's translation of the Five Books of Moses is stunning. There is something wonderful about reading them translated from scratch by a single person so that it embodies a fresh, singular vision rather than a committee that builds on previous translations (although the New Standard Revised Version has a lot to be said for it, and the other work of a single translator I once tried to read--Everett Foxx--was borderline unreadable). It is also a beautiful edition, nicely printed with excellent and detailed footnotes that focus on the literary qualities of the text but also provide explanations and context for much of the text as well. It is also nice to have a large volume devoted just to the Torah. I read this over the course of a number of years, next up is Robert Alter's just published "Ancient Israel" which covers Joshua through Kings.
1 vote nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
I'm prematurely rating this book, as I am only just finishing Genesis—the first of the five eponymous books here. But I can already tell this work has finally broken my "bible barrier": I have been trying to read the bible from a literary-history perspective for most of my life, and until now have never gotten a toehold. Alter's translation reminds me of what Seamus Heaney did for Beowulf. Here the language is brilliant, not a single passage done sloppily, a fantastic melding of heightened tone (archaic and lofty) with readable English. It is a text one can grapple with. And his commentary! Granted, I feel as if I should, for due diligence, also compare notes with another translator, another commentator, but I feel like Alter is my teacher through all of this, neither hyper-religious nor disdainful of the faith and metaphors contained. This book will sit with pride in my ancient/classical reference section and will get picked up often. ( )
1 vote lyzadanger | Feb 5, 2014 |
Very interesting in depth commentary. ( )
  bethanie336 | Jul 10, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Robert Alter is a masterful scholar and a critic of exemplary sensitivity and tact who, both as translator and as commentator, has placed himself wholly in the service of the artfulness of the Torah. It is because he has been so attentive in his commenting that he can afford to be so daring in his translation, so immune to the “heresy of explanation,” so faithful to the literary details of the text that other translators either see as impediments or do not see at all. Conversely, it is his adherence to this specifically literary model of fidelity in representation that leads him into commentary that far exceeds the demands of mere annotation.
added by eereed | editFirst Things, Alan Jacobs (Dec 4, 2009)
A reader should, however, not shy from the rare but exact word, and none of Alter’s eccentricities of diction substantially undermine his attempt to deliver a strongly rhythmic and ruggedly direct equivalent of the Hebrew.
added by eereed | editThe New Yorker, John Updike (Nov 4, 2004)
Alter's magisterial translation deserves to become the version in which many future generations encounter this strange and inexhaustible book.
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The Robert Alter version of the Five Books of Moses has about as much commentary as translation. People who have it usually have it for the sake of the commentary. Please do not combine with other versions/translations.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393019551, Hardcover)

The capstone of a brilliant scholar's lifelong work to establish the literary identity of the Bible, in an elegant, slipcased hardcover.

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. The culmination of this work, Alter's masterly new translation and probing commentary combine to give contemporary readers the definitive edition of The Five Books. Alter's majestic translation recovers the mesmerizing effect of these ancient stories—the profound and haunting enigmas, the ambiguities of motive and image, and the distinctive cadences and lovely precision of the Hebrew text. Other modern translations either recast these features for contemporary clarity, thereby losing the character of the original, or fail to give readers a suitably fluid English as a point of contact. Alter's translation conveys the music and the meaning of the Hebrew text in a lyrical, lucid English. His accompanying commentary illuminates the text with learned insight and reflection on its literary and historical dimensions.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:20 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"The Five Books is an enduring source of literary and spiritual renewal. In its narrative we find the primal stories of the Creation and expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The intimacies of Genesis portray the tortuous relations between fathers and sons, husbands and wives. The grand historical narrative of Exodus and Numbers conveys a still-resonant drama of enslavement and liberation. Leviticus and Deuteronomy codify a culture and ensure its transmission over generations."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393019551, 0393333930

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