Author Topic: Robert Alter  (Read 1732 times)

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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Robert Alter
« on: May 20, 2014, 06:20:39 PM »
Christ is risen!

Has anyone here read the various OT translations of Robert Alter?  I'm thinking specifically of his translation of the Psalms, but also more generally.  If so, what do you think? 
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Robert Alter
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2014, 07:09:03 PM »
Truly he is risen.

I guess I'll just jump in and say he's my favorite translator of Hebrew scriptures. Yes, he's a secular-style scholar and as such too much of his commentary is in keeping with modern criticism, but the more you read of him the more I think you'll discern that he's powerfully and sincerely motivated to be as accurate and true as one human scholar can be in spite of the secularist milieu he's bound in. He's brought credibility back to so-called word-for-word translation, showing how even aesthetically and literarily it can be far superior to the popular looser techniques. In addition, by his critical theory he has done much to force secularists to respect Hebrew scriptures as honest and coherent works.

He's also not afraid to consult the Septuagint.

Now, the Psalms, as being paticularly devotional for the believer, could pose a problem. I have read his version (crossing out a lot of the commentary with a pen; but that's just me), and even chanted it sometimes, but I do tend to use other versions for devotions.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 07:09:25 PM by Porter ODoran »
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Robert Alter
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2018, 12:45:05 PM »
I'm going to start reading the Robert Alter translation. However, I can't bring myself to splurge on the complete three volume set, so I think I'll start with the wisdom books.
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Online WPM

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Re: Robert Alter
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2018, 01:22:56 PM »
I don't have the Eastern Orthodox version of the Old Testament.

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Robert Alter
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2019, 12:53:37 PM »
I just finished his Book of Job. I'm in no position to judge his accuracy toward the Hebrew (I assume it's great as that's what various experts seem to say) but as English literature his work is really excellent and reads much more powerfully than other modern translations I've encountered. He appears to be as fluent in English poetics as he is in Hebrew poetics and shows great respect toward the language and its literary tradition. His commentary is not devotionally oriented but is nonetheless a great pleasure to read and gives a good sense of the difficulties in the received text (he points out places- quite a few- where guesswork is involved or the text is garbled, occasionally using readings from the Septuagint where they make more sense). He also gives just enough background material (relevant regional mythology, history, etc) which helps with some of the more puzzling passages. I'm excited to move on to Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
“Steel isn't strong, boy, flesh is stronger! That is strength, boy! That is power! What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?  Contemplate this on the tree of woe.” - Elder Thulsa Doom of the Mountain of Power

Mencius said, “Instruction makes use of many techniques. When I do not deign to instruct someone, that too is a form of instruction.”

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Offline Agabus

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Re: Robert Alter
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2019, 01:14:01 PM »
He also gives just enough background material (relevant regional mythology, history, etc) which helps with some of the more puzzling passages.

My interest is definitely piqued.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Robert Alter
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2019, 01:34:02 PM »
He also gives just enough background material (relevant regional mythology, history, etc) which helps with some of the more puzzling passages.

My interest is definitely piqued.

Just to be clear, he doesn't give a broad overview, just some quick but helpful notes, like "This phrase probably refers to X mythological creature/ god".
“Steel isn't strong, boy, flesh is stronger! That is strength, boy! That is power! What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?  Contemplate this on the tree of woe.” - Elder Thulsa Doom of the Mountain of Power

Mencius said, “Instruction makes use of many techniques. When I do not deign to instruct someone, that too is a form of instruction.”

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Offline Agabus

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Re: Robert Alter
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2019, 01:49:14 PM »
He also gives just enough background material (relevant regional mythology, history, etc) which helps with some of the more puzzling passages.

My interest is definitely piqued.

Just to be clear, he doesn't give a broad overview, just some quick but helpful notes, like "This phrase probably refers to X mythological creature/ god".

That's good enough for me. Not to brag, but I carry a device that has access to a significant portion of the world's knowledge in my pocket. I just need something to point me in the right direction since so many commentaries completely miss those details.

« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 01:49:29 PM by Agabus »
Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.

THE OPINIONS HERE MAY NOT REFLECT THE ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED ORTHODOX CHURCH

Take a breath, read Ecclesiastes 1:9.

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Re: Robert Alter
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2019, 02:56:02 PM »
He also gives just enough background material (relevant regional mythology, history, etc) which helps with some of the more puzzling passages.

My interest is definitely piqued.

Just to be clear, he doesn't give a broad overview, just some quick but helpful notes, like "This phrase probably refers to X mythological creature/ god".

That's good enough for me. Not to brag, but I carry a device that has access to a significant portion of the world's knowledge in my pocket. I just need something to point me in the right direction since so many commentaries completely miss those details.

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Offline Brilko

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Re: Robert Alter
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2019, 06:53:03 PM »
He also gives just enough background material (relevant regional mythology, history, etc) which helps with some of the more puzzling passages.

My interest is definitely piqued.

Just to be clear, he doesn't give a broad overview, just some quick but helpful notes, like "This phrase probably refers to X mythological creature/ god".

That's good enough for me. Not to brag, but I carry a device that has access to a significant portion of the world's knowledge in my pocket. I just need something to point me in the right direction since so many commentaries completely miss those details.

Dude, do you want to get robbed?  Because that's how you get robbed.

An excellent pun.