Robert Alter’s Landmark Work Sheds Fresh Light on Old Testament

The Gospel Coalition | 3/13/2019 | Staff
darkkazune (Posted by) Level 3
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Decades ago I was unfortunate and reckless enough to go spelunking on in what the National Park Service called “The Wild Cave Tour” in Mammoth Cave (Kentucky), the world’s largest cave system. I crawled, twisted, and sloshed my way behind an impressively knowledgeable guide as we worked our way through barely accessible sections of the cave on a grueling eight-hour expedition. Pointing out rock formations, old saltpeter mines, evidence of seismic activity, and even ancient inhabitants, he showed me things I hadn’t seen or even known of before.

The defining moment, however, was at the end of the trek. We wriggled our way through a hole only 23 inches in diameter to emerge in an exquisitely colored cavern, a destination that made the punishing trip worth the effort. I felt even better when I learned that, from there, we could walk a short distance to the mouth of the cave and step into the warm afternoon sun.

Robert - Alter - Hebrew - Bible - Translation

Reading Robert Alter’s magisterial The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary gave me that same sense of wonder and learning about many things I hadn’t noticed before. Unlike my never-repeated subterranean excursion, I hope to have Alter guide me on this odyssey again and again. I find this work engaging and enlightening to such a degree that I can’t imagine ever studying an Old Testament passage without at least consulting it. It’s destined to become a standard.

The few translations done by a solo translator have all the strengths and weaknesses one might expect. They each reflect the vision, knowledge, presuppositions, and translation proclivities of an individual without the perspectives and deliberation that usually attend the work of a committee.

Work - Degree - Old - Testament - Passage

I find this work engaging and enlightening to such a degree that I can’t imagine ever studying an Old Testament passage without at least consulting it.

Additionally, they...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Gospel Coalition
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