Lit Guide to the Bible P


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Belknap Press
Publish Date
6.1 X 1.8 X 9.2 inches | 2.55 pounds
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About the Author

Robert Alter's translation of the Hebrew Bible, the magnificent capstone to a lifetime of distinguished scholarly work, has won the PEN Center Literary Award for Translation. His immense achievements in scholarship ranging from the eighteenth-century European novel to contemporary Hebrew and American literature earned Alter the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Los Angeles Times. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, Alter is the Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.
Frank Kermode (1919-2010) was a British literary critic who taught English literature at University College London, the University of Cambridge, Columbia University, and Harvard University. His criticism was regularly featured in the London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books, and he was the author of many books including The Sense of an Ending; The Classic; The Genesis of Secrecy; and, most recently, Concerning E. M. Forster. Kermode was knighted in 1991.


This volume is a needed contribution to our appreciation of the Bible as a powerful work of literature and will quickly find its place on the shelves of those who respond to its ambitious themes. If this book does nothing else but restore the scriptures to their rightful place in our cultural consciousness, it will justify the honors that, on so many other grounds, it richly deserves.--Eugene Kennedy "Chicago Tribune "
One of the virtues of this book is that it sends one back to the reading of the Bible with clear eyes and critical instincts alert.--Anthony Burgess "The Observer "
Robert Alter, an outstanding biblical scholar, and Frank Kermode, one of the most notable of the literary scholars, have edited a virtual encyclopedia of literary approaches to the Bible. Readers looking for an overview of the literary turn in biblical studies could do no better than read the general introduction to The Literary Guide to the Bible (a fine, compact presentation by the editor of the book's justifications and goals)... The editors' stated purpose is to help individuals 'attune themselves' to the Bible in an age when literate people no longer have a daily intimacy with it on the basis of shared belief... Even though the task set for this book is enormous and enormously important, it is accomplished well, if not quite flawlessly... The publication of The Literary Guide to the Bible, however, marks an important moment in the history of Bible studies... This book invites the general reader, religious or not, to join in that discussion, to experience how new questions are opening up understandings of an old book.--Elizabeth Struthers Malbon "New York Times Book Review "
A monumental literary account of Scripture that is both comprehensive and accessible.--Joseph Lowin "Hadassah Magazine "
Extraordinary... These essayists offer a cascade of new insights... [This] is a superb guide.--Harry Goldgar "Hudson Review "
Professor Alter is one of our foremost lay readers and expositors of the poetic and narrative genius of the Bible. He brings to his commentaries a knowledge of Hebrew and of Judaism together with an exceptionally wide literary awareness and authority of judgment. Professor Kermode has long been eminent among teachers and critics of English and European literatures from the Renaissance to Romanticism and the moderns... [The volume] contains much that is enlightening, convincing and finely argued.--George Steiner "New Yorker "
Robert Alter and Frank Kermode are literary critics of wide experience and formidable learning, and each has made considerable contributions to what they call the literary study of the Bible... I do not hesitate in awarding them the palm as the best guides we have so far in English.--Harold Bloom "New York Review of Books "
Frank Kermode and Robert Alter, two critics who have given a new rigour and seriousness to the 'Bible as literature' movement, have brought together a constellation of literary and Biblical specialists, from both sides of the Atlantic, to explain the Bible from a literary standpoint... It is hard to see how the task could be performed better. At its best, the Guide does not merely introduce lines of interpretation unfamiliar to the nonspecialist, it also breaks new ground.--John Barton "London Review of Books "
An immensely valuable compilation of the best of recent literary scholarship into the Bible.--Haim Chertok "Jerusalem Post Magazine "
More than two dozen scholars in the United States (11), Great Britain (7), Israel (4), Canada (2), and continental Europe (2) contributed to this volume, representing a variety of academic disciplines such as English, comparative literature, and religion, under the direction of Robert Alter (Old Testament) and Frank Kermode (New Testament)... Far from being a reactionary return to the old ways of thinking, The Literary Guide to the Bible stands as a radical challenge to the scholarly establishment that has for so long dominated biblical studies... [The book] is...a distinct success in what it seeks to accomplish... Looking back over the experience of reading this remarkable volume of essays, I am inclined to recommend it highly--not so much for beginners, but rather for students acquainted with modern biblical exegesis who need another perspective. For readers frustrated by the disintegrative effect of modern commentaries it is a balm for the soul.--David C. Fowler "Modern Language Quarterly "