Bible Review 16:6, December 2000

Books in Brief

The Bible as a Good Book

The Bible may be read in myriad ways—not the least of which is as a collection of great stories, some of the best writing of all time. The following books consider how the Bible came to be understood as a work of literature and how this great book has, over the centuries, inspired others.

The Great Poems of the Bible: A Reader’s Companion with New Translations

James L. Kugel (New York: Free Press, 1999) 352 pp., $23.00 (hardback)

When I first opened this collection of some of the most famous poems of the Bible, I turned immediately to Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” This, I thought, would be the ultimate test of the book. How could the author possibly improve on the beloved King James Version of this poem? Why would he even bother to try?

And there I read: “The other translations in this book are my own, but I did not wish to forgo here the well-known, and altogether stunning, translation of Psalm 23 that appears in the King James (or ‘Authorized’) Version of the Bible.”

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