The abstract of this article reads as follows:
Life in this world is the only life, according to the ancient biblical belief. Robert Alter (Uri) in the introduction to his translation of the book of Psalms (2007) explains why he sometimes chose one word and not another to remain faithful to the biblical belief of Psalms, and discarded here and there the excess baggage of belief in the world to come, which throughout the generatins has clung to certain words and expressions that appear in the psalms. Two texts from Modern literature, one Hebrew, the other Russian, exemplify in this article the tension between belief in this world and belief in the world to come of two female protagonists, independently of each other. The last part of the article relates to a personal event that illumines something about Robert Alter, the man and the translator.
The author’s poignant tribute to the great Robert Alter’s method and legacy highlights Alter’s option for shedding the ‘baggage’ attributable to Christian quotation, doctrine, and eschatology in favor of the concreteness that is arguably native to the Hebrew psalms themselves. Ben-Dov’s development of two moments in literature in which the protagonists found it necessary to negotiate ‘this-worldliy’ and ‘other-worldly’ reception of the psalms frames Alter’s choice of the former in the introduction to his celebrated translation of the biblical psalms.