Strong As Death Is Love: The Song of Songs, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Daniel, A Translation with Commentary

Strong As Death Is Love: The Song of Songs, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Daniel, A Translation with Commentary

by Robert Alter (Translator)

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Overview

“A pleasure to read. . . . Alter has given fresh life to some of the most beloved . . . books in our heritage.”—Philadelphia Inquirer


The Song of Songs; Ruth; Esther; Jonah; and Daniel offer readers a range of pleasures not usually associated with the Bible. As distant in time from the Five Books of Moses as Updike is from Shakespeare, these Late Biblical books are innovative, entertaining literary works. Women often stand center stage. The Song of Songs is a celebration of young love, frankly sensuous, with no reference to God or covenant. It offers some of the most beautiful love poems of the ancient world. The story of Queen Esther’s shrewd triumph is also a secular entertainment, with clear traces of farce and sly sexual comedy. The character of Ruth embodies the virtues of loyalty, love, and charity in a harmonious world. Enigma replaces harmony in Daniel’s feverish night dreams. The apocalyptic strangeness of Daniel echoes in works from the New Testament’s Book of Revelations to the lyrics of Bob Dylan. And Jonah, the tale of a giant fish who, on God’s command, swallows the prophet and imprisons him in his dark wet innards for three days, ends with a question that lingers, unanswered, leaving the reader to ponder the many limitations of humankind.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393352252
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/08/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Robert Alter's translation of the Hebrew Bible, the magnificent capstone to a lifetime of distinguished scholarly work, has won the PEN Center Literary Award for Translation. His immense 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.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

The Song of Songs

To the Reader 3

The Song of Songs 7

The Book of Ruth

To the Reader 57

The Book of Ruth 61

The Book of Esther

To the Reader 85

The Book of Esther 89

The Book of Jonah

To the Reader 135

The Book of Jonah 139

The Book of Daniel

To the Reader 157

The Book of Daniel 161

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