Cover image for The David story : a translation with commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel
The David story : a translation with commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel
Alter, Robert.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxxvii, 410 pages : map ; 25 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BS1323 .A48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The story of David is the greatest single narrative representation in antiquity of a human life evolving by slow stages through time. In its main character it provides the first full-length portrait of a Machiavellian prince in Western literature.

Author Notes

Robert Alter is Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew & Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In his latest effort, Alter (Hebrew and comparative literature, Univ. of California, Berkeley) has produced a compelling literary translation of the story of the beginnings of the ancient Israelite monarchy and of one of the Bible's most colorful characters. He argues hereÄas he did previously, in his translation of Genesis (LJ 8/96)Äthat this story is a literary whole rather than merely a stitched-together collection of independent bits. Alter's translation bears a resemblance to the King James Version (sans "thee" and "thou"), which he considers a true literary translation. But in many instances, his version surpasses King James's by more accurately reproducing the rhythm, syntactical arrangement, and word plays of the Hebrew text. His faithful representation of the Hebrew wawÄtranslated as "and"Ägives a sense of the story's forward movement and leaves some current translations, in which subordinate clauses often obscure the waw, seeming flat. This is a translation for readers; recommended for all collections.ÄCraig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

For millennia the Bible's King David has inspired literary, artistic, religious, and political reflection. His panoramic personal experience and poignantly realized character portray him as one of antiquity's best examples of human life and faith, replete with inherent ambiguity. In this eminently readable translation and commentary of the David story from 1 and 2 Samuel, Alter (Univ. of California, Berkeley) skillfully breathes a fresh spirit and sense of urgency into this ancient narrative. Throughout his presentation, Alter interacts with the critical and linguistic literature focusing on 1 and 2 Samuel, setting both his translation of the Hebrew text and his concise commentary at the bottom of each page in the larger context of biblical, Semitic, and literary studies. Alter's observations are consistently interesting and at times challenging, distinguishing this work as a genuinely original contribution to its field. A roster of characters from the books of Samuel, a listing of contemporary authors consulted, and a very well done index render this work seriously valuable to collections in Jewish studies, ancient literature, religious studies, and theology. Undergraduates through faculty and researchers; general readers, too. B. Stetson; The David Institute