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Genesis: Translation and Commentary, Robert Alter


ISBN: 9780393316704

15 reviews

"[Here is] the Genesis for our generation and beyond."―Robert Fagles

Genesis begins with the making of heaven and earth and all life, and ends with the image of a mummy—Joseph's—in a coffin. In between come many of the primal stories in Western culture: Adam and Eve's expulsion from the garden of Eden, Cain's murder of Abel, Noah and the Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham's binding of Isaac, the covenant of God and Abraham, Isaac's blessing of Jacob in place of Esau, the saga of Joseph and his brothers.

In Robert Alter's brilliant translation, these stories cohere in a powerful narrative of the tortuous relations between fathers and sons, husbands and wives, eldest and younger brothers, God and his chosen people, the people of Israel and their neighbors. Alter's translation honors the meanings and literary strategies of the ancient Hebrew and conveys them in fluent English prose. It recovers a Genesis with the continuity of theme and motif of a wholly conceived and fully realized book. His insightful, fully informed commentary illuminates the book in all its dimensions.

This book is paperback and is recommended reading for Hillsdale's free online course, "The Genesis Story: Reading Biblical Narratives"


"A masterly new translation." —Time

"Here is Genesis in all its power and presence.... Alter offers us an English prose as gravely cadenced as that of the King James Bible, and yet as fresh, precise, and strong as the best contemporary narrative can be." —Robert Fagles, award-winning translator of The Iliad and The Odyssey

"Alter's achievement is immensely impressive.... The illuminating notes alone make this volume indispensable for anyone wanting to do a close reading in English translation and understand all the possibilities of the original Hebrew." —John A. Phillips, Boston Globe

"Genesis remains our best single collection of perennial stories. Alter translates them glowingly, without slickness or archness. His running commentary illuminates the true language of life in both Hebrew and English." —Roger Shattuck

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13 Jun 2022
Gary C.
United States
I recommend this product

Literary Excellence

Studying the Bible as literature can be an exhilarating experience if one is already staid in biblical theology. But fully understanding the Bible is what it claims to be. Or even as a fledgling of the subject if God's hand guides. And the teacher at the helm is honest with no side agenda. And I can't imagine any teacher doing as well as Dr. Justin Jackson in bringing the depths of the narrative into full view for our examination in all its beauty and emotion with biblical accuracy fully intact. I initially read the extensive introduction to the textbook of the online class I recently completed at Hillsdale College presented in the capable hands of Dr. Justin Jackson. The subject title is "Reading Genesis." The subject matter is, you guessed it, reading Genesis and viewing it through the richness of its literary value. It's been a few years since I have been in that setting. So it's nice to sit back in class instead of facing it. It gets the creative juices flowing in the old grey matter again. The text is titled "Genesis: Translation and Commentary." Authored by Robert Alter. He is a well-known scholar of Hebrew, a linguist, and a bible philologist. His targeted approach is translating the Bible to preserve the original language's rich nuance and emotion. In this case, Genesis. It is a book that stands on its merit with a promise. In so making, Alter's approach is one with a learned eye for classical Hebrew literature and biblical accuracy. This book brought the glittering jewels of the Bible into a sparkling radiance for me. I enjoyed the book as well as the class. I have studied the Bible from varied perspectives, but this is the first time for its pure beauty of literary excellence beyond comparison. I highly recommend the book and the class. G.W. Collins

Hillsdale College Genesis: Translation and Commentary, Robert Alter ReviewHillsdale College Genesis: Translation and Commentary, Robert Alter Review
29 Apr 2022
David K.
United States United States
I recommend this product

Great to read

Brings a fresh perspective on the book of Genesis that other translation’s just can’t get across in modern English.

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Genesis: Translation and Commentary, Robert Alter

Genesis: Translation and Commentary, Robert Alter