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Norton have very kindly sent on Professor Robert Alter's The Five Books of Moses. This is an extremely handsomely packaged book (and I'd almost recommend for that alone), but it is far more important than just that:


Through a distinguished career of critical scholarship and translation, Robert Alter has equipped us to read the Hebrew Bible as a powerful, cohesive work of literature. The culmination of this work, Alter's masterly new translation and probing commentary combine to give contemporary readers the definitive edition of The Five Books. Alter's majestic translation recovers the mesmerizing effect of these ancient stories—the profound and haunting enigmas, the ambiguities of motive and image, and the distinctive cadences and lovely precision of the Hebrew text. Other modern translations either recast these features for contemporary clarity, thereby losing the character of the original, or fail to give readers a suitably fluid English as a point of contact. Alter's translation conveys the music and the meaning of the Hebrew text in a lyrical, lucid English. His accompanying commentary illuminates the text with learned insight and reflection on its literary and historical dimensions.

For those who are interested in thinking further about the bible as literature, I can't recommend Gabriel Josipovici's The Book of God highly enough.

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