Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary Hardcover – August 17, 2004
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Publishers Weekly
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 Versionthe most beautiful and literary English-language translationis 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A godsend. The foundational texts are here given their due in prose at once modern and magnificently cadenced. Immediately readable. -- Seamus Heaney, Times Literary Supplement
Engrossing...the translation [that] deserves to become the version in which future generations encounter this strange and inexhaustible book. -- Judith Shulevitz, New York Times Book Review
The poets will rejoice. Alter's language ascends to a rare purity through plainness that equals the plainness of the Hebrew. -- Cynthia Ozick, The New Republic --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
That does not make Alter right by definition. I am sure he has is own biases. But when he does trace a connection, even if he is not aware of what the connection would mean for a Christian, it is trustworthy because his primary agenda seems to be a faithful reading of the original books. Sometimes this leads him to conclusions that an orthodox Christian or Jewish commentary would never make (for instance finding traces in the text of origins from other, earlier, polytheistic sources. But, with each Alter book I have read, I have never felt he had an ax to grind against orthodox believers (Jew or Christian), just a desire to uncover the original meanings.
Two nice things you will get in this translation besides a lot of technical (but very interesting) notes:
- A great English translation of the text. Preserving more of the original langues poetry, humor, rhyming, etc than other translations I am familiar with. I think this is the best translation of the Old Testament in terms of its readability and faithfulness.
- excellent notes on not just technical terms, but literary themes, parallels, ironies, etc. Alter is great about pointing out these types of elements which would have been readily perceived by the original audience, but are sometimes lost on modern readers from a different culture.
The text is in large type and in a single column. Verse numbers are given in the outer margins rather than within the text itself, but the chapter divisions are as distinct as chapter divisions in a novel. Translation notes and commentary appear directly below the text at the bottom of the page, but there are no distracting footnotes used within the biblical text itself. The notes at the bottom take up at least as much of the page, on average, as does the biblical text. It's easy to explore textual issues at the bottom of the page or simply to read the scriptural text, as one desires.
It's a large and heavy volume: over 1,000 pages in my paperback edition, 9 inches by 6 inches, with about 50 pages of introductory material to the volume, plus introductions to each biblical book that average about 8 pages each. The paper quality and thickness are very good; the paper is a comfortable off-white color.
I'm giving a lot of basic information because the Amazon description wasn't that helpful.
I'm finding this translation, and the introductions and notes, very helpful for study of the text. I wouldn't use this translation for a Scripture reading in church but for personal--or group--study it is outstanding and helpful.
Postscript: I have noted several reviewers here who had serious problems with the binding of this book coming unraveled. I don't doubt that they have had these problems, but I have had no problems whatever with my paperback version.