Robert Alter sets a new standard in the translation of this formative book of the Hebrew Bible.
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.
The Biblical book of Genesis contains some of the most sublime poetry known to man as well as the powerful and bloody history of early Israel. Literary critic Robert Alter here joins the ranks of contemporary authors who have tried to mimic, in English, the sonorous rhythms and parallel constructions of the original Hebrew. He also supplies an insightful, fascinating commentary that emphasizes the dramatic unity of the Genesis story. For believers seeking a deeper understanding of the Bible's first book, or for readers interested in the Bible as literature, Alter's contribution is essential.