Monday, September 17, 2007

Jewish Scholar Re-Interprets Psalms

Listening to NPR on the way home today, I was struck by this report:

"Robert Alter, a professor of Hebrew and comparative literature at the University of California Berkeley, has published a new translation of the Psalms, The Book of Psalms.

"Among the most noteworthy absences from his version is the soul. Why Psalms with no soul and no salvation? Robert Alter [says] those are concepts superimposed on the ancient poems in more recent times."

At the risk of sounding anti-you-know-what (I don't like to use the word "Semite", because it's so often misused), this made me think of something related to the Christian Canon. It reminded me that the decision of Christian Old Testament canonicity could only ever have been properly entrusted to a Christian body, and not to a council of Hebrew scholars at Jamnia circa 90 A.D. Of course, I don't mean to imply that the views of this Berkley scholar are representative of Jewish adherents writ large. At least, I hope they are not.

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