*The Hebrew Bible. Translation with commentary by Robert Alter.
Read by Edoardo Ballerini.
54 CDs. 64 Hours.
Recorded Books. 2019.
In this interesting new translation of the Bible, Robert Alter caps a lifetime of distinguished scholarly work.He has won the PEN Center Literary Award for Translation. His 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. In this 3-volume set (54 CDs), Alter provides long and scholarly introductions to the entire work and to each section. However, listeners should be aware that the commentaries (which are in the books) are not included. This is not so much an omission, but logistically it was impossible to include them in an audio version. In the books, each commentary for the verses that appear on the page is on the bottom of the page (a line separates the text from the commentary in the books). And each is numbered according to the verse number. Ballerini was recognized as a Golden Voice by Audiofile
. He is a beautiful and popular reader. His narration is wonderful – dramatic and poetic – reading with great feeling and passion. What stands out in this very long work is that his voice is fresh and animated throughout, from the first CD to the last. One difficulty for the listener is that the audio is comprised of 54 CDs with no hint as to what is contained on each CD. Such information is not provided on each CD label either, making it impossible to find a particular book, section, or verse. It is really a shame that such a wonderful narration is marred by the difficulty in finding particular sections. This scholarly and academic work might have a limited audience of scholars but for those lay people with an interest, it is a worthwhile listening experience. For those desiring to delve more deeply by reading the commentaries, the PDF is: https://www.academia.edu/40352517/The_Hebrew_Bible_A_Translation_with_Commentary_Vol._Three-Volume_Set_by_Robert_AlterReviewed by Susan Rosenzweig