“Anyone who reads the Torah will see that a lot of it doesn’t make sense,” Ehrlich writes in her introduction. “It is repetitive, inconsistent, even contradictory.” Oddly enough, though, a writer who’s skeptical about the Bible turns out to be the perfect person to translate it.
This Bible begins: “At the beginning, the earth was wild and empty….” She’s changed the traditional phrasing just enough that some readers will find it more approachable, and others will find it surprising and unfamiliar. She describes Moses’ basket as “a little ark of papyrus,” reminding readers of how much danger the baby was in, floating in the middle of the Nile. Nevins’ paintings may also change the way people think about the text. When Jacob wrestles an angel, the two of them look almost like one being. The pictures seem to be painted with more colors than exist in nature. They glow. Not every word of the Bible has been included, the text having been pared down to a series of interconnected stories. The book of Numbers is suddenly much shorter and much sadder, consisting of a sobering numbering of the dead. Even readers who are not at all skeptical about the Bible may find that they need this version; it’s so beautiful and new.
Ehrlich’s transcendent verse translation renders these familiar stories as shocking, perplexing and remarkably compelling—just as they always have been. (map, genealogy, endnotes) (Religion. 7-18)