The Jewish Study Bible: Tanach Translation

By Fisher, Eugene J. | Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Fall 2014 | Go to article overview

The Jewish Study Bible: Tanach Translation


Fisher, Eugene J., Journal of Ecumenical Studies


The Jewish Study Bible: Tanach Translation, 2nd ed. Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler. Oxford, U.K., and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014 (orig., 2004). Pp. 2,307. $45.00.

This excellent volume uses the TaNaKh translation of the Jewish Publication Society, adding to it introductions and annotations for each book, forty essays, tables, charts, a glossary of key terms, an index, and nine maps. Each major section--Torah (the Pentateuch), Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings)--has an introduction by Brettler. All of the essays, introductions, and verse-by-verse annotations have been updated for the present volume, and a number of new essays were added. It is, as such, eminently usable on a variety of levels, from personal study and Christian-Jewish dialogue groups to classroom use. I have used the first edition, along with The Catholic Study Bible, in my graduate course on the Hebrew Scriptures for Saint Leo University and will definitely be using this second edition in the future.

The essays (pp. 1,833-2,220), by a cross-section of many of the best Jewish scholars in the field, are both substantive and readable. They are divided into five sections, with the fifth section, '' The Hebrew Bible in Other Scriptures," added for this edition, with an essay by Amy-Jill Levine on the New Testament's use of the Hebrew Bible and one by Jacob Lassner on its use in the Qur'an and Muslim tradition. The first section is composed of ten studies presenting Jewish interpretations of the Bible, from biblical and early nonrabbinic interpretations through classic rabbinic, medieval, seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, and contemporary understandings. Included are studies of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible in Jewish philosophical and mystical traditions.

The second section, "Biblical Ideas and Institutions," is new, though it includes some essays, updated, contained in the first edition, such as "The Religion of the Bible" and "Concepts of Purity" in the Bible. Added are reflections on the Temple, biblical calendars and festivals, Davidic kingship, and war and peace. The third section, "The Bible in Jewish Life," updates the entries on the Bible in the Synagogue and Liturgy, Israeli Life, Women's Scholarly Writings on the Bible, and Jewish Translations of the Bible. It adds a reflection on "The Jewish Bible in America," by Jonathan Santa

The fourth section, "Backgrounds for Reading the Bible," splits a single entry on the history and geography of biblical Israel into two separate essays and adds essays on archeology and the ancient Near East. …

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