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The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary Paperback – October 17, 2008
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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
About the Author
Robert Alter's translation of the Hebrew Bible, the magnificent capstone to a lifetime of distinguished scholarly work, has won the PEN Center Literary Award for Translation. His immense achievements in scholarship ranging from the eighteenth-century European novel to contemporary Hebrew and American literature earned Alter the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Los Angeles Times. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, Alter is the Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.
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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.