“Why do we need a new translation of the Hebrew Bible?” with guest Robert Alter


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The Bible is the most famous book we all think we know, but there are dozens of translations to choose from. Every religious denomination has its own preference. What makes one better than the other and what are the rules of biblical translations anyway? Why do we need another version? What’s wrong with the ones we have already? On this episode of Why? Radio, we ask these questions and more, as we take an extended look at one man’s decades’ long effort to give us a new edition of sacred scriptures.

Robert Alter is Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, where he has taught since 1967.  He has twice been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Senior Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, and Old Dominion Fellow at Princeton University. He writes on the European novel from the eighteenth century to the present, on contemporary American fiction, and on modern Hebrew literature. He has also written extensively on literary aspects of the Bible.

Among his more than twenty published books, are two prize-winning volumes on biblical narrative and poetry, and award-winning translations of Genesis and of the Five Books of Moses. His complete translation of the Hebrew Bible, with commentary, was published in December, 2018. It is available in a beautiful three volume set.

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