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The Wisdom Books: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes: A Translation with Commentary [Kindle Edition]

Robert Alter
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

First time in paperback: “One of the most ambitious literary projects of this or any age.”—Adam Kirsch, New Republic

Here in Robert Alter's bold new translation are some of the most magnificent works in world literature. The astounding poetry in the Book of Job is restored to its powerful ancient meanings and rhythms. The creation account in its Voice from the Whirlwind is beautiful and incendiary. By contrast, a serene fatalism suffuses Ecclesiastes with a quiet beauty, and the pithy maxims of Proverbs impart a worldly wisdom that is satirically shrewd. Each of these books addresses the universal wisdom that the righteous thrive and the wicked suffer in a rational moral order; together they are essential to the ancient canon that is the Hebrew Bible.

Product Description


"Alter's enterprise... preserves the poetic virtues of the older models while adding a new concreteness and vitality." Salley Vickers, The Times

About the Author

Robert Alter was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Lifetime Achievement and the PEN Center Literary Award for Translation. He is the Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Robert Alter is the author of the highly acclaimed: Genesis (ISBN 978 0 393 31670 4), The David Story (ISBN 978 0 393 32077 0), The Five Books of Moses (ISBN 978 0 393 01955 1) and The Book of Psalms (ISBN 978 0 393 33704 4).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1254 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (11 Oct. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0045Y23WA
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #309,112 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Andre Lawrence TOP 1000 REVIEWER
"The strong disparities among these Wisdom books vividly illustrate how the Hebrew Bible, contrary to popular preconception, is not a book but an anthology ...incorporating widely different views of human nature, God and history and even the natural world."
--Robert Alter, 2010
Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley

* Why another translation?
** Comparative selections and commentary
*** Conclusion

* Why another translation?

Scholarship matters. It really does. Scholarship matters just like Integrity matters. Correspondingly, such efforts are the only defense against literalism and fundamentalist fanaticism. Prof. Robert Alter, like many of his contemporaries in Religious Studies (Jewish, Christian and Muslim, alike) share the belief that many of the stories canonized were common tales that the Ancient Israelites and their surrounding neighbors (perhaps even extending into the reaches of central Europe and The Far East) told and re-told for generations before being transcribed. These homogenized stories appeared to have been morality tales before cultural reconstruction transformed them into insular and sacred pieces. In addition to Job, The Creation Story through Noah, Esther, Ruth and even The Tobit all reflect a Judaizing/ Monotheistic rendering when compared to the older source material found in such texts as The Book of The Jubilees or The Epic of Gilgamesh, to name a few.

---Job ("Iyov") 3:3

JPS (1917): "Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night wherein it was said: 'A man-child is brought forth.' "

NAB (1969): "Perish the day on which I was born and the night when they said, `The child is a boy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplary translation 9 Mar. 2012
By David
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Are the books of the Bible the 'inerrant word of God' or a rich and varied literature, of which we have only a vague idea? Well, whether the word of God or not, the books of the 'tanakh' are ALSO literature, which characteristic structures and their own technique. Robert Alter 'The Five Books of Moses' and 'The Psalms', Robert Alter now gives us 'Job', 'Proverbs' and 'Ecclesiastes'. We know that translation, even between closely related languages, throws up difficulties that only a skilled practitioner can resolve. When the languages are widely separated in time and space, the difficulty is all the greater, and it is to Alter's credit that he has equal respect for English and Hebrew. What is worrying, perhaps, for those who see the text as the 'inerrant word of God', is that there are numerous places where the precise meaning is obscure, or where there is reason to suspect that scribes have introduced errors, or copyists have misread the text. these difficulties are explained by Alter in his valuable notes so that, short of becoming a Hebrew scholar, one feels one has come as close to the original text as possible, and the translator, far from being invisible behind his translation, is a confident and advisor on whose scholarly comments it is safe to rely.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 29 Dec. 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ordered for my dad who was very happy with the service & the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars very good, highly recommended 21 Mar. 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
All as expected, very good, highly recommended. Angela Morris
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wisdom 16 Jan. 2012
Robert Alter has produced a clear, engrossing translation and simple commentary; and his publisher has done him proud. But he does prove you won't go wrong with the AV.
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