“When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep and God’s breath hovering over the waters, God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.”
So begins a monumental new literary translation of the Hebrew Bible by University of California Berkeley scholar Robert Alter. Yes, “welter and waste” — more on that later.
Most full translations of the Bible are done by teams of translators. Alter is the first person to complete a major English-language translation of the entire Hebrew Bible on his own.
He began, aptly, with Genesis, published in 1997. Since then, in fits and starts, he has translated several more books of the Bible. And next month his full three-volume translation drops, representing decades of work.
“Alter’s versions are not destined to replace the King James Version; they are meant to strip away its familiarity, to help us see the Biblical text more closely and accurately,” wrote the poetry and literary critic Adam Kirsch.
— Neubauer Collegium (@UChiCollegium) August 26, 2015