Biblical Translation Expert to Speak at Mercer


MACON — Dr. Robert Alter, one of the nation’s foremost experts on biblical translation, will deliver a lecture at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the Medical School Auditorium on Mercer University’s Macon campus. The lecture, titled “The Opacity of David and the Transparency of Saul,” is based on Dr. Alter’s translation of 1st Samuel and is sponsored by Mercer’s Center for the Teaching of America’s Western Foundations.
“We could not be more excited about bringing to campus one of the world’s leading scholars and translators of the Bible,” said Dr. Will Jordan, associate professor of political science, director of the Great Books Program and co-director of the Center. “Our reading group of Mercer faculty and students has learned a great deal this semester from Professor Alter’s translation of 1st Samuel, and we look forward to our opportunity to meet with him.”

Dr. Alter is the Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature and professor of Hebrew and comparative literature at the University of California at Berkley, where he has taught since 1967. He has written extensively on literary aspects of the Bible.  His 23 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.  Among his publications over the past 20 years are The World of Biblical Literature (1992), Hebrew and Modernity (1994), Imagined Cities (Yale, 2005) and Psalms: A Translation with Commentary (Norton, 2007). His latest book, Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible, was published by Princeton this year.

He has written widely on the European novel from the eighteenth century to the present, on contemporary American fiction, and on modern Hebrew literature.   He has devoted book-length studies to Fielding, Stendhal and the self-reflexive tradition in the novel.

In 2009, Dr. Alter received the Robert Kirsch Award from the Los Angeles Times for lifetime contribution to American letters. 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.

About the Mercer Center for the Teaching of America’s Western Foundations:
Mercer’s Center for the Teaching of America’s Western Foundations seeks to provide a new generation of citizens with knowledge of, and appreciation for, the founding principles, values and history of our nation. The Great Books of the West were the education of the American Founders, and America’s freedom and prosperity fundamentally come from the ideas, values, and principles that the Founders’ Great Books explore. To that end, the Center seeks to promote the study and teaching of these foundational works and strengthen the knowledge and understanding of the cultural-intellectual inheritance of America. Mercer is one of a select few colleges or universities in the country and the only one in Georgia that has a Great Books of Western Civilization program as part of its general education curriculum. The Center complements this curriculum with programs including lecture series and campus conferences, and seeks to reinforce the importance of traditional liberal-arts education.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,200 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
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