THE BOOK OF PSALMS
Hebrew scholar-translator Robert Alter offers up a magisterial new translation of The Book of Psalms, the most important collection of prayer-poems in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Alter’s fine introduction contextualizes the Psalms historically and offers a quick gloss on various translation issues. His concise line commentaries reflect current scholarship. Most importantly, he allows us to see these familiar compositions with fresh eyes. Alter translates the third line of the 23rd Psalm as “My life He brings back.” This is much fiercer (to my ear) than the traditional “He restoreth my soul,” and Alter explains that the Hebrew word translated as "soul" actually means “life” or “life breath.” This book is a wonderful holiday gift for readers who would approach the Psalms as a key literary document from the late Bronze Age or, in the tradition of lectio divina, as devotional literature.