|A Review of
Translated by Pamela Greenberg.
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
For thousands of years, the Psalms have been the heartbeat that pulsed life and kept rhythm for the people of God, but sometimes their familiarity can subtly breed mindlessness; we mouth the familiar words and yet miss the power of their words to engage with the oft-brutal realities of living in a fallen world and to transform our hearts and minds. Out of this familiar milieu emerges Pamela Greenberg’s delightful new translation, The Complete Psalms, which breathes the crisp air of new life into these liturgical songs. Indeed, Greenberg identifies the compelling force behind her translation as “the impulse of shiru l’Adonai shir chadash, the imperative to sing to God a new song” (xvii). Her translation process flowed from the tension between the poetic, an attempt “to replicate the emotional passion of the psalms,” and the literal, which in the end resulted in a [dialogical] “middle ground between strict literality and poetic engagement, with the hopes of awakening for the reader new possibilities for speaking with God.”
Consider her verdant translation of the familiar Psalm 100:
Shout out with joy, all who live on earth.
Serve the Holy One with rejoicing.
Come before the Upholder with a ringing cry.
Know that God is a source of wonder.
You created us, and it is to our Creator we belong.
We are shepherded by heavenly guidance.
Come into the divine gates with thankfulness,
the holy courtyards shining with praise.
Be thankful, awed by the Holy Name.
For God is good;
your kindness is toward the world.
From generation to generation, you remain faithful.