Genesis: Translation and Commentary

Overview

"[Here is] the Genesis for our generation and beyond."—Robert Fagles
Genesis begins with the making of heaven and earth and all life, and ends with the image of a mummy—Joseph's—in a coffin. In between come many of the primal stories in Western culture: Adam and Eve's expulsion from the garden of Eden, Cain's murder of Abel, Noah and the Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham's binding of Isaac, the covenant of God and Abraham, Isaac's blessing of Jacob in place ...

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Overview

"[Here is] the Genesis for our generation and beyond."—Robert Fagles
Genesis begins with the making of heaven and earth and all life, and ends with the image of a mummy—Joseph's—in a coffin. In between come many of the primal stories in Western culture: Adam and Eve's expulsion from the garden of Eden, Cain's murder of Abel, Noah and the Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham's binding of Isaac, the covenant of God and Abraham, Isaac's blessing of Jacob in place of Esau, the saga of Joseph and his brothers.
In Robert Alter's brilliant translation, these stories cohere in a powerful narrative of the tortuous relations between fathers and sons, husbands and wives, eldest and younger brothers, God and his chosen people, the people of Israel and their neighbors. Alter's translation honors the meanings and literary strategies of the ancient Hebrew and conveys them in fluent English prose. It recovers a Genesis with the continuity of theme and motif of a wholly conceived and fully realized book. His insightful, fully informed commentary illuminates the book in all its dimensions.

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Editorial Reviews

Time
“A masterly new translation.”
Robert Fagles
“Here is Genesis in all its power and presence.... Alter offers us an English prose as gravely cadenced as that of the King James Bible, and yet as fresh, precise, and strong as the best contemporary narrative can be.”
Jonathan Groner - Washington Post
“Robert Alter's new translation unquestionably should find a place on the bookshelf of every lover of Genesis and the Bible.”
John A. Phillips - Boston Globe
“Alter's achievement is immensely impressive.... The illuminating notes alone make this volume indispensable for anyone wanting to do a close reading in English translation and understand all the possibilities of the original Hebrew.”
Chaim Potok - Philadelphia Inquirer Books
“Fluently readable.... As clear a window into primal darkness and the jeweled garden and the deeds of the patriarchs and matriarchs as we've likely to have in a long time.”
Roger Shattuck
“Genesis remains our best single collection of perennial stories. Alter translates them glowingly, without slickness or archness. His running commentary illuminates the true language of life in both Hebrew and English.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This Berkeley professor's rendering of the Hebrew Bible's opening book was a PW Best Book of 1996. Sept.
Library Journal
Norton. Sept. 1996. c.352p. ISBN 0-393-03981-1. $30.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393316704
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 484,321
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Alter's ongoing 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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Read an Excerpt

Genesis

Translation and Commentary
By Robert Alter

W. W. Norton & Company

Copyright ©1997 Robert Alter
All right reserved.

ISBN: 039331670X


Chapter One


When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep and God's breath hovering over the waters, God said, "Let there be light." And there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And it was evening and it was morning, first day. And God said, "Let there be a vault in the midst of the waters, and let it divide water from water." And God made the vault and it divided the water beneath the vault from the water above the vault, and so it was. And God called the vault Heavens, and it was evening and it was morning, second day. And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered in one place so that the dry land will appear," and so it was. And God called the dry land Earth and the gathering of waters He called Seas, and God saw that it was good. And God said, "Let the earth grow grass, plants yielding seed of each kind and trees bearing fruit of each kind, that has its seed within it." And so it was. And the earth put forth grass, plants yielding seed of each kind, and trees bearing fruit that has its seed within it of eachkind, and God saw that it was good. And it was evening and it was morning, third day. And God said, "Let there be lights in the vault of the heavens to divide the day from the night, and they shall be signs for the fixed times and for days and years, and they shall be lights in the vault of the heavens to light up the earth." And so it was. And God made the two great lights, the great light for dominion of day and the small light for dominion of night, and the stars. And God placed them in the vault of the heavens to light up the earth and to have dominion over day and night and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And it was evening and it was morning, fourth day. And God said, "Let the waters swarm with the swarm of living creatures and let fowl fly over the earth across the vault of the heavens." And God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that crawls, which the water had swarmed forth of each kind, and the winged fowl of each kind, and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the water in the seas and let the fowl multiply in the earth." And it was evening and it was morning, fifth day. And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of each kind, cattle and crawling things and wild beasts of each kind. And so it was. And God made wild beasts of each kind and cattle of every kind and crawling things on the ground of each kind, and God saw that it was good.

And God said, "Let us make a human in our image, by our likeness, to hold sway over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the heavens and the cattle and the wild beasts and all the crawling things that crawl upon the earth.

And God created the human in his image,
in the image of God He created him,
male and female He created them.

And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and conquer it, and hold sway over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the heavens and every beast that crawls upon the earth." And God said, "Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the face of all the earth and every tree that has fruit bearing seed, yours they will be for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and to all the fowl of the heavens and to all that crawls on the earth, which has the breath of life within it, the green plants for food." And so it was. And God saw all that He had done, and, look, it was very good. And it was evening and it was morning, the sixth day.

Continues...


Excerpted from Genesis by Robert Alter Copyright ©1997 by Robert Alter. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2011

    Excellent translation!

    I first heard about this author in a seminar on preaching and found this book as I was looking for others by the same author. Very interesting translation with some great insights into translation of words, phrases, and literary styles. I have used in preparing to preach on Genesis and found it very helpful.

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