Monday, September 17, 2007

Soulless Psalms?

Actually Robert Alter's new translation of the greatest prayerbook ever written has plenty of soul in it (even if he avoids the word, itself). Alter is one of those rare top-notch academic scholars who also has a real commitment to finding the place where spiritual meaning and intellectual rigor meet. He's not my favorite Bible translator (that honor goes to Everett Fox), but he's way up there. This NPR interview is definitely worth a listen.
clipped from

Author Explores the Psalms, Sans Soul

'The Book of Psalms'

All Things Considered, September 17, 2007 · For thousands of years, the Psalms have been a powerful part of first Jewish, and then Christian liturgy. In translation, they contain some of the most memorable lines ever written in English.

Robert Alter, a professor of Hebrew and comparative literature at the University of California Berkeley, has published a new translation of the Psalms, The Book of Psalms.

Among the most noteworthy absences from his version is the soul. Why Psalms with no soul and no salvation? Robert Alter tells Robert Siegel that those are concepts superimposed on the ancient poems in more recent times.

Alter's previous works include the biblical translations Genesis and The Five Books of Moses.

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