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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

New Bible translation returns to Hebrew roots

Reuters: The Five Books of Moses, Robert Alter


"A professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Alter says since he has never found a biblical translation that he liked or could recommend to his comparative literature students, he decided to do his own, starting with the story of Genesis and ending with the death of Moses."


"Alter said his task was to find the English equivalents of the Hebrew. 'Hebrew is filled with concrete images. For example, the King James translates the famous lines of Ecclesiastes as 'vanity of vanities ... all is vanity' but the closest word in English to the Hebrew is 'vapor, vapor, all is mere vapor.'


"Alter said he was especially pleased with restoring all the "ands" back in a passage where Abraham's servant is sent on a mission to find a wife for Isaac and encounters Rebekah:

"And she came down to the spring and filled her jug and came back up. And the servant ran toward her and said, 'Pray, let me sip a bit of water from your jug.' And she said, 'Drink, my lord,' and she hurried and tipped down her jug on one hand and let him drink. And she let him drink his fill and said, 'For your camels, too, I shall draw water until they drink their fill.' And she hurried and emptied her jug into the trough, and she ran again to the well to draw water and drew water for all his camels."


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