Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Alter Psalter

I finally got my 2 week loan of the Psalms by Alter from the Public Library. My first reaction is muted. His notes are nowhere near as inventive as those of his Five Books of Moses. They do not stand alone without the Hebrew to read beside them. I think this is maybe a stage of notes and translations - some can stand alone in the target language - some cannot.

Here are some rough notes from me - if I get time, I will flesh out some more.

Psalm 1 - Alter sees the opening as something that Job would not agree with. Perhaps there are some possible inferences that the theology of Job would counteract, but I don't see anything wrong with the Psalm itself. It is promise and prophecy for me, not a lame theology.

Psalm 2 - his treatment of kiss the son is unbalanced structurally. The end of the poem simply does not work for me without the anointed as 'son' - - and this is not a Trinitarian referent.

Psalm 4 - Alter does not seem to identify God's voice. On 4:9 - as antithesis to Job, I think he makes a good call. We all know troubled sleep or sleep as the gift to the beloved.

Psalm 9:17 - here Alter fills in an ellipsis (as he says in his note). Ellipses are better left unsaid most of the time I think. Let the reader do the work. Poetry is not explanation.

Alter - The Lord is known for the justice He did.
נוֹדַע יְהוָה--מִשְׁפָּט עָשָׂה
JPS - The LORD hath made Himself known, He hath executed judgment. (=RSV less the hath's)
Bob - The LORD is known - judgment he makes.

I am sure Bob is defective - I am beginning to be inarticulate, disdainful of auxiliaries.

No comments: