Literary Form and Meaning in the Hebrew Bible

1 December

We are deeply honoured to welcome Professor Robert Alter, Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, USA, to lead a session of the Sacred Literature in Interfaith Contexts Reading Group.

Here are the details of this fascinating session.

Topic: Literary Form and Meaning of the Hebrew Bible

Abstract: For reasons that may be unfathomable, the ancient Hebrew writers chose to frame their monotheistic vision in finely crafted narrative and frequently brilliant poetry.  What they sought to say becomes apparent in all its nuances and complexity only if one attends to the distinctive literary conventions and techniques of the poems and narratives they wrote.  The talk will provide a few illustrations from both the narratives and the prose.

Speaker: Professor Robert Alter, Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, USA.

Speaker’s biography: Robert Alter is Professor of the Graduate School and Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, where he has taught since 1967. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Council of Scholars of the Library of Congress, and is past president of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. He has twice been a Guggenheim Fellow, has been a Senior Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, and Old Dominion Fellow at Princeton University. He has written widely on the European novel from the eighteenth century to the present, on American fiction, and on modern Hebrew literature. He has also written extensively on literary aspects of the Bible. His twenty-eight published books include two prize-winning volumes on biblical narrative and poetry and award-winning translations of Genesis and of the Five Books of Moses. He has devoted book-length studies to Fielding, Stendhal, Nabokov, and the self-reflexive tradition in the novel. Books by him have been translated into ten different languages. Among his publications over the past thirty years are Necessary Angels: Tradition and Modernity in Kafka, Benjamin, and Scholem (1991), Imagined Cities (2005), Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible (2010),The Art of Bible Translation (2019), and Nabokov and the Real World 2021). His completed translation of the Hebrew Bible with a commentary was published in 2018 in a three-volume set. In 2009 he received the Robert Kirsch Award from the Los Angeles Times for lifetime contribution to American letters and in 2013 the Charles Homer Haskins Prize for career achievement from the American Council of Learned Societies. In 2019 the American Academy of Arts and Letters conferred on him an award for literature. He has been given honorary degrees by Yale, Northwestern, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and three other institutions.

Opening Welcome/Closing Statements: Professor Delvyn Case, Senior Fellow of the Oxford Interfaith Forum, Professor of Music at the Wheaton College, MA, USA.

Chair: Professor Karina Hogan, Fordham University, USA.

Time: 18:00-19:00 GMT| 19:00-20:00 CEST | 10:00-11:00 PST | 13:00-14:00 EST

Venue: Online

After registering, you will receive the Zoom email containing information about joining the meeting. If you do not see the zoom email in your inbox, please, check your spam folder.

If you would like to join the Sacred Literature in Interfaith Contexts Reading Groupplease sign up here.

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