The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel

Alter, Robert

Published by W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN 10: 0393048039 / ISBN 13: 9780393048032
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Synopsis: The story of David is the greatest single narrative representation in antiquity of a human life evolving by slow stages through time. In its main character it provides the first full-length portrait of a Machiavellian prince in Western literature. The beautiful, musical David, the resourceful slayer of Goliath, loved by all, reveals himself as a calculating political animal. To advance his own cause, he becomes a collaborator with the archenemies of Israel, the Philistines. Later he commits adultory with Bathsheba and compounds the betrayal with murder. He exposes himself repeatedly to humiliation, oscillates between noble sentiment and harsh vindictiveness, and with his dying breath charges his son Solomon to wreak bloody vengeance on his enemies. This translation and commentary enables a great literary work to emerge from the Bible and stand on its own.

Review: There are countless good reasons to read The David Story, Robert Alter's new translation of the story of King David (beginning in I Samuel and ending in I Kings 2). In the book's introduction, Alter contends that the story of David is "probably the greatest single narrative representation in antiquity of a human life evolving by slow stages through time, shaped and altered by the pressures of political life, public institutions, family, the impulses of body and spirit, the eventual sad decay of the flesh. It also provides the most unflinching insight into the cruel processes of history and into human behavior warped by the pursuit of power." Alter's translation is more literal than the King James version, which makes his rendering of Scripture newly immediate and jarring. (When Samuel anoints David in I Samuel 16, for instance, "the spirit of the LORD gripped David from that day onward.") This David Story is worth reading for the footnotes alone, which describe in vivid detail the mechanics of sheep-shearing festivals, sacrificial feasts, and other cultural phenomena that add depth and life to this familiar story. --Michael Joseph Gross

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Title: The David Story: A Translation with ...
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Fine

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