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The Art of Bible Translation

Robert Alter

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Princeton University Pres
16 November 2020
From the recipient of the National Jewish Book Award for Lifetime Achievement, this is an account of the art of translating the Hebrew Bible into English. In this brief book, award-winning biblical translator Robert Alter offers a personal and passionate account of what he learned about the art of Bible translation during the two decades he spent completing his own English version of the Hebrew Bible. Showing why the Bible and its meaning can be brought to life in English only by re-creating the subtle and powerful literary style of the original text, Alter discusses the principal aspects of biblical Hebrew 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.

'Hugely entertaining and irreverent.' - Adam Gopnik, New Yorker 'Alter sets out the principles that govern his translation while also delivering his pointed commentary on almost all other modern versions...

This thrashing is long overdue and mightily refreshing.' - Eric Ormsby, Wall Street Journal 'A short masterclass in how to appreciate biblical language.' - Simon Rocker, Jewish Chronicle 'An essential companion volume to [Alter's] own translations.' - Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal 'A refreshing look into the complex work of translating the Bible.' - Publishers Weekly
By:   Robert Alter
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 140mm, 
ISBN:   9780691209142
ISBN 10:   0691209146
Pages:   152
Publication Date:   16 November 2020
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Robert Alter is professor of the Graduate School and emeritus professor of Hebrew and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley. His many books include The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary, for which he received the National Jewish Book Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Reviews for The Art of Bible Translation

In a series of short essays, [Alter] delves into the minutiae of word choice, syntax and rhythm that make up the substance of a translator's work. --New York Times Book Review Alter provides a refreshing look into the complex work of translating the Bible. --Publishers Weekly Hugely entertaining and irreverent. ---Adam Gopnik, New Yorker In this slim work, Mr. Alter sets out the principles that govern his translation while also delivering his pointed commentary on almost all other modern versions. ---Eric Ormsby, Wall Street Journal This deeply personal account of the pleasures and challenges of translating the Hebrew Bible into modern English is lively, engaging, and accessible. It will be especially illuminating to readers who have taken for granted that their beloved translations of the Bible are pure and direct vehicles for the unchanging word of God. --David Damrosch, author of What Is World Literature? Alter's book is a short masterclass in how to appreciate biblical language. We may read through the veil of translation but it helps us glimpse the colour of the original. ---Simon Rocker, Jewish Chronicle An essential companion volume to [Alter's] own translations. ---Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal The Art of Bible Translation is an extraordinary intellectual adventure. Like Robert Alter's translation of the Hebrew Bible itself, this book is a triumph. --Michael Wood, author of On Empson In The Art of Bible Translation, Alter provides an intriguing insight into the complexities he faced in producing, single-handed, his translation of the Hebrew Bible. It makes fascinating reading. ---Neville Teller, Jerusalem Post


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