Thursday, November 18, 2004

Bible: New Pentateuch translation from original Hebrew meanings

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- It is considered the most magisterial opening in English literature: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

But now a major revisionist translation of the Bible would have the cosmos begin with a more conversational clause: "When God began to create heaven and earth ... "

And where the King James translation of Genesis had the earth begin "without form and void," the new translation of the Hebrew Bible says that the earth was "welter and waste."

Biblical scholar Robert Alter's major new English translation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible -- alternately called the Five Books of Moses, the Torah or Pentateuch -- has some critics manning the barricades while others are applauding his efforts to return the work to its original Hebrew meanings and majestic repetitions.


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