Book cover for "The Art of Biblical Translation" by Robert Alter

Robert Alter, The Art of Bible Translation

Robert Alter will speak about his new translation of the Hebrew Bible and the art it took to complete it with Maya Barzilai of the University of Michigan.

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In this book, award-winning biblical translator Robert Alter offers a personal and passionate account of what he learned about the art of Bible translation during the two decades he spent completing his own English version of the Hebrew Bible. Showing why the Bible and its meaning can be brought to life in English only by re-creating the subtle and powerful literary style of the original text, Alter discusses the principal aspects of biblical Hebrew that any translator should try to reproduce: word choice, syntax, wordplay and sound play, rhythm, and dialogue. In the process, he provides an illuminating and accessible introduction to biblical style that also offers insights about the art of translation far beyond the Bible. Meant to be read as a companion piece to Robert Alter’s magnum opus, The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary.

Day Sponsor: Carol & Ronald Fogel

Sponsor: Cis Maisel Center for Judaic Studies and Community Engagement, Oakland University

Co-sponsor: JCC of Metro Detroit’s JLearn, JCC of Metro Detroit’s SAJE (Seminars for Adult Jewish Enrichment), Rayna Kogan

Promotional Partner: Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan 

A headshot of the author Robert Alter, a man with short, gray and white curly hair wearing a button down shirt.

About the Author:
Robert Alter is an American professor of Hebrew and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1967. He was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship for Humanities, the National Jewish Book Award for Modern Jewish Thought, and an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree by Yale University.

About Moderator Maya Barzilai:
Maya Barzilai is Associate Professor of Hebrew Literature and Jewish Culture in the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies and the department of Middle East Studies at the University of Michigan. She is also affiliated with the Department of Comparative Literature and Germanic Languages and Literatures. She researches modern Hebrew literature in comparative and multilingual contexts, focusing on Hebrew-German literary exchanges and translations in the early to mid-twentieth century. Her broader interests also include Weimar cinema, Israeli visual culture, and post-war poetics.


Dec 04 2020


12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Dec 04 2020
  • Time: 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
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Robert Alter, The Art of Bible Translation