In her new, complete translation of the Book of Psalms, Pamela Greenberg "favors beauty before theology," in the words of Mary Karr, writing in the Washington Post of the unpublished manuscript of this book, "breathing new life into the ancient texts." It is precisely the honesty of these prayer songs, overflowing into wild jubilance or deeply wrenching despair, that Greenberg has captured in her new translations, making them touch us so deeply.
Traditional translations - from those of the medieval Jewish commentator Rashi to early Christian commentators to the King James version—have downplayed anger at God and reinterpreted the Psalms in ways that would be doctrinally more palatable, but which flatten the richness and subtlety of the Hebrew verse. Greenberg's translation aims to restore the poetry and vibrancy of the Psalms as a prayerful act, replicating their emotional passion while both wrestling with the text as living liturgy and remaining as true as possible to the originals. Her desire in this new translation is to rekindle the relevance of the Psalms, to bring to life what makes their words cry and breathe and shout—a labor of yearning, necessity, and love.
What would have made The Complete Psalms better?
Though Greenberg's translation is beautifully poetic and interpretative, listeners should know that the narrator of this book makes numerous mispronouncements of the transliterated Hebrew words found throughout. Though I was able to correct for these in my own mind as I listened, I would caution against purchasing this title if one is hoping for proper and correct pronunciation.
What did you like best about this story?
Greenberg's translation is interpretative and beautifully poetic.
What didn’t you like about Kymberly Dakin’s performance?
Though the narration itself is quite beautiful, the numerous mispronouncements of transliterated Hebrew detracted from my enjoyment.