How to Judge Robert Alter's Landmark Translation of the Hebrew Bible

By Hillel Halkin for Mosaic

 

Finished after decades of labor, this one-man English translation is a stupendous achievement. How does it hold up against the masterpieces (and follies) that have come before?

 

However you look at it, Robert Alter’s The Hebrew Bible is a stupendous achievement. The result of decades of work, consisting of over 3,000 pages of translated text and commentary, it includes every one of the 35 books from Genesis to Chronicles that constitute Jewish scripture. One might call it the translator’s equivalent of a solo circumnavigation of the globe were it not that sailing a boat around the globe takes far less time.

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