Customer Reviews for

The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary

Average Rating 4
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2007

    Didactic Translation of the Psalms

    Robert Alter, Ph.D. presents his translation and explanation for the 150 biblical Psalms. His work is truly a scholarly tome presenting the Psalms in their historical context and how they were intentionally or unintentionally influenced by translators and time. He reaffirms that original translators or editors organized the Psalms according to five books so the Psalms appear as divine as Moses' pentateuch. A marketing ploy in the ancient order? He describes how translations done over hundreds of years can accidentally or intentionally change the meanings of this great spiritual collection. Even simple and trivial letter swaps such as including a letter from one word to the following word dramatically altered the meaning of the original poem. Translation challenges also include how the translator altered the meaning of a Psalm by ignoring or substituting simple words when faced with complex concepts or unique words. The introduction to Alter's book is academically robust enough for someone who wants a dry explanation of the Psalms without an a lot of spiritual discussion. Dr. Alter numbers the Psalm chapters according the Masoretic, or the Hebrew numbering schema versus the Septuagint of Greek schema. This distinction is important for the reader who wants to make comparisons between Dr. Altar's collection and those in other textbooks. I particularly liked how Dr. Altar concurrently presented numbered footnotes on the same page as the text being studied. It was easy to maintain a focus on the Psalm presented at the top of the page and quickly glance at the explanation found at the bottom half of the page. He systematically explains syntax, rhythm, cadence and poetry of the psalms. It became easier to read the Psalms following Dr. Altar's explanation of the poet's tool called 'poetry related sequencing'. The poet starts a stanza or verse with a general comment that sets the tone for th Psalm. The poet then uses sequentially more specific verbs or nouns until the final verse contains the unequivocal action or unambigous meaning of the verse. Dr. Altar's book is meaningful for it's translations, grammatical explanations, and the eruditous way he explains an ancient written language. For these reasons The Psalms would be a meaningful addition to one's Psalm library. Other texts must be read for theologic or spiritual interpretation but Dr. Altar's tome is necessary for it's academic muscle.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 20, 2010

    Outstanding resource!

    I'm using this as a devotional. One psalm per day, I read the psalm and then re-read it with Alter's comments. Then I journal my thoughts on it. It's really opened my eyes to some of the meanings behind the verbiage used. A truly remarkable book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    I bought the e-book version of this book for the convenience of being able to reference it when my print copy was at home. Robert Alter's translation attempts to convey the understandings of the Hebrew text. His extensive commentary explains his translation choices and gives cultural background to the text. The arrangement of text and commentary in th e-book makes it easy to use.

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  • Posted September 14, 2012

    Provocative and engaging -- must reading for all readers of the bible.

    Robert Alter has written a number of outstanding translations and commentaries on the Hebrew Bible. The Book of the Psalms continues this work with a thought-provoking translation of the Psalms. The reader may at first feel a jarring sense of discord when he begins reading the Psalms as translated by Alter. However, as one studies the commentary provided, one is quickly reassured and amazed at the intricacy and beauty evoked by Alter's translation. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading the Bible and mining it for new meaning as well as the general reader who is reading the Bible as a cultural work of literature.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    This a His book is lame

    Lame

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 9, 2010

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    Posted January 2, 2010

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    Posted March 30, 2012

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