My friend Seth Brown is a writer, an improv comedian, and a celebrated slam poet. (His alter ego is a nerdcore hip-hop artist.) And for the last several years, he's been working on rendering the Hebrew scriptures in rhyme.
When I first heard about this project, I boggled: the whole Torah? In rhyming couplets? It's a huge undertaking, and as readers of the Bible know well, there's much in the Hebrew scriptures which is challenging to read, much less to recast in new metered prose. But Seth pulled it off, and the fruit of his labors is now available in print.
The end result is From God to Verse, a line-by-line rendering of the Five Books of Moses in iambic heptameter. Here's how it begins:
In the beginning when God was creating the heavens and all of the earth,
When the world was all wild and waste, and of light on the deep oceans there was a dearth,
And the wind of God hovering over the waters, God spoke and said, “Let there be light!”
And indeed, there was light. And God saw it, that light, and He saw that it was good and right.
After seeing his shining creation, God then separated the light from the dark.
So He called the light “Day” and the darkness as “Night” (and the difference between them was stark).
And then there was a setting and there was a dawning as earth’s creation had begun,
There was evening and then there was morning, and that was the first day, so ending day one.
Seth does a lovely job of hinting at the Hebrew's humor and wordplay. He's faithful to the original text, and yet his version of the Torah is unlike any other I've seen. From God to Verse is by turns serious, witty, and wry -- and it's a lot of fun to read. If you're a Bible geek like me, you should have this one in your collection. And if you've always meant to read the Bible but maybe haven't been able to connect with it, this version might be what you need.
Kol hakavod (or, in contemporary English, props) to you, Seth, for this truly awesome undertaking!