Jew­ish Text

The Hebrew Bible: A Trans­la­tion with Commentary

January 1, 2013

A mas­ter­piece of deep learn­ing and fine sen­si­bil­i­ty, Robert Alter’s trans­la­tion of the Hebrew Bible, now com­plete, rean­i­mates one of the for­ma­tive works of our cul­ture. Cap­tur­ing its bril­liant­ly com­pact poet­ry and fine­ly wrought, pur­pose­ful prose, Alter renews the Old Tes­ta­ment as a source of lit­er­ary pow­er and spir­i­tu­al inspi­ra­tion. From the fam­i­ly fric­tions of Gen­e­sis and King David’s flawed human­i­ty to the serene wis­dom of Psalms and Job’s incen­di­ary ques­tion­ing of God’s ways, these mag­nif­i­cent works of world lit­er­a­ture res­onate with a star­tling imme­di­a­cy. Fea­tur­ing Alter’s gen­er­ous com­men­tary, which qui­et­ly alerts read­ers to the lit­er­ary and his­tor­i­cal dimen­sions of the text, this is the defin­i­tive edi­tion of the Hebrew Bible.

Discussion Questions

Robert Alter’s his­toric one-man trans­la­tion of the entire Hebrew Bible is like two worlds at once, the heav­ens and the earth, with the trans­la­tion above and the com­men­tary below. One can spend a life­time in either of these worlds.” – Aviya Kushner

Robert Alter spent a two-decades trans­lat­ing the Hebrew Bible into Eng­lish — and many more as a bib­li­cal schol­ar and lit­er­ary crit­ic — result­ing in the impres­sive three-vol­ume set The Hebrew Bible: A Trans­la­tion with Com­men­tary. The com­plet­ed work is an achieve­ment that The New York Times Book Review calls mon­u­men­tal, marked by lit­er­ary grace and intel­li­gent com­men­tary.” Alter’s trans­la­tion is the first trans­la­tion of the Hebrew Bible by a sin­gle per­son, and his trans­la­tion cou­pled with his com­men­tary have made the Hebrew Bible acces­si­ble to an even wider audi­ence — a resource for not only aca­d­e­mics and seri­ous bible schol­ars, but a vital con­tri­bu­tion to every Jew­ish home library and read­er. His work show­cas­es the role of trans­la­tion in our under­stand­ing of the Hebrew Bible, and the nec­es­sary effort that goes into accu­rate­ly cap­tur­ing its text, rhythm, and poetics.

Jew­ish Book Coun­cil is proud to hon­or Alter’s work with a Life­time Achieve­ment Award for his valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to the com­mu­ni­ty, which will sure­ly be trea­sured for years to come.