Magazine March 25, 2019, Issue

Robert Alter’s Monumental Translation of the Hebrew Bible

A worker organizes Torah scrolls at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., November 14, 2017. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary, by Robert Alter (Norton, 3 vols., 3,500 pp., $125)

In a memorable passage of Virginia Woolf’s novel The Years, a young woman is at her mother’s burial. Although resonant verses from the King James Gospel and Psalms fill her with inward “glory,” the words do not help her concentrate for more than a few moments, let alone overcome her alienation.

In a great contrast, a young man from Greece told me that he’d been shamefully unable to cry over his father’s death — until he was in church and the Bible-based funeral service began. Belief, aesthetics, and attitude toward the deceased didn’t appear to have come into it in any

To Read the Full Story
Sarah Ruden’s most recent books are the extensively revised second edition of her Aeneid translation and her new translation of the Gospels.

In This Issue



Special Financial Section

Books, Arts & Manners




Readers write in about the career options a military background builds, as well as the trouble with building anything in California.
The Week

The Week

Call us old-fashioned, but we don’t believe in standing by and saying nothing when women get beaten by men, even in track and field.


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