"A masterpiece of contemporary Bible translation and commentary."—Los Angeles Times Book Review, Best Books of 1999
Acclaimed for its masterful new translation and insightful commentary, The David Story
is a fresh, vivid rendition of one of the great works in Western literature. Robert Alter's brilliant translation gives us David, the beautiful, musical hero who slays Goliath and, through his struggles with Saul, advances to the kingship of Israel. But this David is also fully human: an ambitious, calculating man who navigates his life's course with a flawed moral vision. The consequences for him, his family, and his nation are tragic and bloody. Historical personage and full-blooded imagining, David is the creation of a literary artist comparable to the Shakespeare of the history plays.
"Masterly."—New York Times
Book Review "The most compelling version . . . since the King James Bible
."—Robert Fagles "Read it and rejoice."—David Gelernter, National Review
"A splendid new translation of one of the Bible's greatest stories."—Atlanta Journal-Constitution
There are countless good reasons to read The David Story, Robert Alter's new translation of the story of King David (beginning in I Samuel and ending in I Kings 2). In the book's introduction, Alter contends that the story of David is "probably the greatest single narrative representation in antiquity of a human life evolving by slow stages through time, shaped and altered by the pressures of political life, public institutions, family, the impulses of body and spirit, the eventual sad decay of the flesh. It also provides the most unflinching insight into the cruel processes of history and into human behavior warped by the pursuit of power." Alter's translation is more literal than the King James version, which makes his rendering of Scripture newly immediate and jarring. (When Samuel anoints David in I Samuel 16, for instance, "the spirit of the LORD gripped David from that day onward.") This David Story is worth reading for the footnotes alone, which describe in vivid detail the mechanics of sheep-shearing festivals, sacrificial feasts, and other cultural phenomena that add depth and life to this familiar story. --Michael Joseph Gross