That's exactly what's happened in the case of Robert Alter's new translation of the Book of Psalms.
People who are into Bible study and who know the name Robert Alter probably met him through one of his most-popular books, The Art of Biblical Narrative. In it, the UC Berkeley literature professor shows that Old Testament narratives are not the result of clumsy cut-and-paste. Instead, lengthy sections of the Bible reveal a beautiful artistry, a sound to which modern, academic study of the Bible is practically tone deaf.
Since he wrote that book, Alter has produced translations and commentaries on the Five Books of Moses and the Book of Samuel. And now he's turned to the Psalms.
"Real" Bible scholars are forever pouncing on Alter for not knowing what they know. They don't seem to appreciate that he identifies aspects of the biblical text that, for all of their deep study, they've missed. I've heard that some people have questioned why a theological skeptic like Alter should be teaching the Scriptures. I just take his work for what it is: brilliant analysis of the Bible, and a fresh attempt to bring into English the most important words in the world.
About my pledge: I know, Alter's translation is new. And his commentary is new. And in 2008, I'm supposed to be reading books that are old. But the Book of Psalms is very, very old. So, this counts as one of the "old" books I'll be reading in 2008. Can't wait.
Oh, and you can read Alter's short article, "Psalm Springs: How I Translated the Bible's Most Poetic Book" here. To hear Alter reading his translation of Psalm 19, click on the link at this page.