The Hebrew Bible: The Sacred Books of the Jewish People
And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. This has the stateliness we expect from the King James Bible, but that very quality—the long lines and antique diction—can make it feel distantly solemn.
The JPS translation, on the other hand, is just prosy, with no sense of rhythm, making the passage hard to speak aloud:. This passage is guilty of some of the literary sins Alter complains about in his introduction. Alter casts the text in verse lines, emphasizing the doublets—the second clause expanding on the first—that are characteristic of biblical poetry.
This expectation is reinforced by the idea that all the parts of the Bible stem ultimately from the same author, God even if Jewish tradition holds that different books were written by different people: The Book of Job by Moses, the Psalms by David. Yet the Bible disappoints this expectation of unity at every turn.
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Written over a period of five or more centuries by dozens of different authors, it is best thought of as anthology rather than a book: verse and prose, myth and history, genealogical catalogues and territorial surveys, architectural measurements and erotic poetry. Even individual sections of the Bible are full of narrative inconsistencies and duplications that suggest they are combinations of several different texts.
Abraham goes to Egypt and pretends Sarah is his sister on two occasions; Noah is told to take two of each species of animal on board the ark, then in the next sentence to take seven of each. Spinoza doubted that the true origins of the Bible could ever be discovered, but modern scholarship has gone a long way to proving him wrong, discerning different layers in the text that reflect various origins and agendas.
But he does show that stylistic analysis can help to make sense of how the Bible was put together. One illuminating example comes in the second chapter of I Kings, where King David delivers a deathbed speech to his son and heir, Solomon. And you must be strong and be a man. What it sounds like, right down to the invocation of the teaching of the Torah of Moses, is Deuteronomy—a book that scholarship dates to the late seventh century BCE, while David is supposed to have lived around the 10th century BCE.
Audio Bible in Hebrew
This kind of creative reinterpretation of the Bible is central to Judaism, and it was already happening in biblical times. Esther is one of the most popular books of the Bible, and not just because it is read aloud every year on Purim : It is a gripping tale, full of dramatic ironies and coincidences. Of course, translation is usually a matter of compromise—one element of meaning or style must be sacrificed in order to preserve another. A good example comes in the story of the creation of man, in Genesis The Hebrew word adam has three meanings that nest inside one another: It is the personal name of the first man, a word for mankind in general, and a pun on the word for soil, adamah , out of which Adam is created.
Such trade-offs are inevitable whenever one language has to be rendered into another. Click here to donate today. Click here for access to comments. Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking.
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According to the Masoretic Text
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It is very sad to see such a smart critic as Adam Kirsch be bedazzled out of his senses.
I suspect he is limited by a desire for academic approval, which leads him to more fuzzy synoptic conclusions than needed. Preceding the Torah text itself are two grammatical treatises comprising 15 leaves in total common in Yemen. The manuscript is written on paper in Yemenite square script, in two columns per page, with 25 lines per column. Created by David ben Benayah ben Saadiah ben Zekhariah, a member of a well-known family of Yemeni scribes, the manuscript has been owned by the Hibshoosh family since The Masorah annotations are the collection of critical notes, compiled in the 7th—10th centuries by Jewish scribes and scholars known as the Masoretes, and accepted as the authoritative regulator of the written and vocalized transmission of the Hebrew Bible.
Scribe Zekhariah, David ben Benayah ben Saadiah ben. Date Created Subject Date Language Hebrew. Additional Subjects Bible Bible. Old Testament Haftarot Masorah.
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