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"Praise, Prayers, and Pleas"

Robert Alter's new translation of Psalms returns text to Hebraic roots.

Renowned Hebrew scholar Robert Alter has just released another translation of a portion of the Old Testament, this time of the Psalms–perhaps the most familiar and beloved book of Scripture among believers and nonbelievers alike. The Book of Psalms (Norton) is a near-600-page tome featuring Alter's translation of all 150 psalms, along with extensive historical and cultural commentary, which comprises nearly half of each page. Psalms is the next installment of Alter's biblical translations, following The Five Books of Moses (2004), Genesis (1997), and The Art of Biblical Narrative (1983), a foundational primer in how to read the Bible for its literary qualities.

Alter states in an interview with online Jewish arts magazine NextBook that his intent in translating has always been to capture and remain faithful to the intent and rhythm of the original Hebrew text. Such literary qualities that he says are often overlooked in some popular English translations are the parallelisms, plays on words, ...

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