We have quoted Robert Alter’s work from time to time in the Critical Background. He is one of the most distinguished contemporary scholars of the Hebrew Bible.
This last year he was the featured speaker at the annual “Reading of the Sacred Texts” event at the Graduate Theological Union. Here’s the video of his presentation, as he reflects on the challenges and pleasures of translating the Hebrew Bible.
Robert Alter, Translating the Hebrew Bible: The Challenges and the Pleasures from GTU Archives on Vimeo.
Text: Isaiah 11:1-10, [11-16]
Shoots, stumps, branches, and roots. Family trees. Curses and blessings.
My daughter Katie and her husband Marc are expecting their second child in November. (By the time you read this, if all goes well, this yet unnamed baby will have arrived.) They are doing what most prospective parents do, going through all the family names and names of friends, trying to decide what this child will be called. In naming this baby, they will also name their associations, their hopes, their aspirations – going back into the past and its stories and going forward into the future.
What is your name? Write out your whole name. Look at it. Is it a family name? A name associated with another person? If you were named for someone, what do you know of them? What role did they play in your life? A “new” name? What was given birth when you were given your name? What else comes with your name? What roles, what dangers? If you could choose your own name, what would it be?
What is your real name, the one no one knows but you?
– Beth Harrison
Many universities have full length courses available online. Here are two classes on the Old and New Testament from Dale Martin and Christine Hayes. The listing at Open Yale Courses includes links to audio and video versions of the lectures, as well as transcripts and reading assignments. A good opportunity to get a deeper understanding of our texts. Continue reading