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The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary

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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.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2009

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