asher63 (asher63) wrote,


I'm working my way through the Books of Samuel in the Bible, reading from the Artscroll, JPS, and Robert Alter translations by turns. I'm at the beginning of I Samuel 25, where the eponymous prophet dies.

It's a great read - one of the really "readable" narratives in the Bible. The one I really feel for is Jonathan, who has to choose between loyalty to his increasingly volatile father Saul and his love for his friend David. Like many children of difficult parents, he just wants everything to be all right. There's something especially poignant, I think, in 20:13, where he tells David, "[if Saul intends evil toward David] I will reveal it to you ... and you shall go safely and the Lord shall be with you as He was with my father." He is remembering the days when Dad was good with God and everything was fine - and he knows those days are no more.

I like Alter's translation. It is clear and precise, but fluid. You can read it chapter by chapter, cover-to-cover, like a good novel. The English is natural and modern without being slangy. The notes present helpful information about the language and literary style of the original, and the choices the translator has made, without getting in the way of the narrative, and equally useful whether you know Hebrew or not.

I've skipped around the books of Samuel and Kings before, but this is my first time reading the whole thing straight through. And as always in the Bible, there is family drama and family dysfunction. If you're looking for stories of happy, wholesome, well-adjusted families, the Bible isn't your book.
Tags: bible

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