Friday, December 07, 2007

The Psalms

Robert Alter has a new book out, a new translation of the Psalms. It has several goals, among them is his wish to remove from the Psalms every trace of Christian theology, a theology he believes has been superimposed on the poems by translators. For example, where the KJV capitalizes Son, he does not; where the KJV suggests heaven as when it renders l'orech yamim as "eternally", Alter leaves it as "for many long days" and keeps the poem in the present.

I've been reading the book, and I see that along with taking the Christinity out of the Pslams, he may have also stripped them of their Judaism, the Judaism of the current exile I mean. Over the last two thousand years the predicition of the Rabbis in Midrash Tehillim has come to pass. We Jews (and Christians, too, as Adam Kirsch points out in a masterful review) have acquired the habit of imagining that everything in the Psalms "pertains to all Israel, and to all times." Some of that is a trick of translation, though. As Kirch explains:

Alter's Psalms look backward--to the warrior culture that produced them, obsessed
with honor, shame, and revenge; and even to the polytheistic Canaanite mythology
that lurked in the background of Israelite religion. Psalm 95 declares: "For a great god is the Lord,/and great king over all the gods"; and in Psalm 104 we find God making war on the Ocean, as Baal did on the sea-god Yam in Canaanite myth"

For Psalm 95 Artscroll gives us For a great God is Hashem and great king above all heavely powers. (the Hebrew is melch godol al kol elohim) Psalm 104 is Barchi Nafshi, and Artscroo's translation carries none of the sense of it representing

I also learned from Kirsch that the tehillim fad gaining ground [criticized here] in our neighborhoods has an unlikely predecessor: Once monks recited the whole book, every week, and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer called for the whole cycle to be read monthly.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you're a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will come back later on. I want to encourage you continue your great posts, have a nice day!

my page :: structured settlement buyer
My website :: receive structured settlement

Anonymous said...

Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday.
It will always be helpful to read through content from other writers and use something from other web sites.

Also visit my web-site :: cash payout on a structured settlement

Anonymous said...

I am really loving the theme/design of your site.

Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility issues?
A number of my blog visitors have complained about my website not
operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Firefox.
Do you have any advice to help fix this problem?

My blog post: cash for structured settlement

Anonymous said...

Heya i am for the primary time here. I came across this board and I to find It really helpful & it helped me out much.
I am hoping to present something back and help others such as you aided me.

my web-site; sell structured settlement payments canada
Also see my page - sell structured settlements

Anonymous said...

Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you could
be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and definitely will come
back later on. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great job, have a
nice day!

my web site sell your annuity payments
Also see my webpage: sell structured settlement companies

Anonymous said...

I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish.

nonetheless, you command get got an nervousness over that you wish
be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come
more formerly again since exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this increase.

my blog post ...

Anonymous said...

Remarkable! Its genuinely remarkable piece of writing, I
have got much clear idea regarding from this article.

Feel free to visit my page -

Anonymous said...

Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Thanks for providing these details.

Check out my webpage; this page

Anonymous said...

An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been doing a little homework on this.
And he in fact ordered me dinner simply because I stumbled upon it for him.
.. lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But
yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this subject here on your web page.

my web site

Anonymous said...

Hey! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post
reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this.
I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.
Many thanks for sharing!

Also visit my web site ... navigate to this website

Anonymous said...

I needed to thank you for this very good read!! I definitely
loved every little bit of it. I have got you book-marked to check out new things you post…

Here is my web site: have a peek here