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'The Book of Psalms' ()

Author Explores the Psalms, Sans Soul

Sep 17, 2007 (All Things Considered)

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For thousands of years, the Psalms have been a powerful part of first Jewish, and then Christian liturgy. In translation, they contain some of the most memorable lines ever written in English.

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 tells Robert Siegel that those are concepts superimposed on the ancient poems in more recent times.

Alter's previous works include the biblical translations Genesis and The Five Books of Moses.

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