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Chadwick-Oden Lecture Series: Why Biblical Poetry Matters with Robert Alter

The second installment in the Chadwick-Oden lecture series featured author and scholar Robert Alter. Hosted at St. Michael’s Abbey and sponsored by Fieldstead and Company, the symposium featured two lectures considering the profound significance of biblical poetry. Robert Alter, professor of Hebrew and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and translator of the Hebrew Bible, gave two lectures exploring the books of Job and Isaiah, shedding light on their relevance and enduring impact.


Robert Bernard Alter (b. 1935) earned his bachelor's degree in English from (Columbia University, (1957) ,and his master's degree (1958) and doctorate (1962) from Harvard University in comparative literature. He started his career as a writer at Commentary, where he was for many years a contributing editor. He has written twenty-three books, most recently his translation of the entire Hebrew Bible (W.W. Norton, 2018). He lectures on topics ranging from biblical episodes to Kafka's modernism and Hebrew literature.

Alter has served as an active member of the Council of Scholars of the Library of Congress and as the president of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. He was a Guggenheim fellow in 1966 and 1978. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1986, and . In 2001, he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2001. He was a senior fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, and Old Dominion fellow at Princeton University. He is a member of the editorial board of the Jewish Review of Books.

His book The Art of Biblical Narrative won the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought. In 2009, he was the recipient of the Robert Kirsch Award (Los Angeles Times) for lifetime contribution to American letters, and.He was awardedof an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree by Yale University in 2010. He is a Doctor Honoris Causa of Hebrew University (2015).His most recent book is The Art of Bible Translation (2020).


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