The Jewish Study Bible: Second Edition

9780199978465Arriving some weeks back for review is the new edition of the Jewish Study Bible, Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler.

New to this Edition:

  • Over two dozen new and updated essays
  • Updated annotations for nearly the entire Bible
  • Informative essays that address a wide variety of topics relating to Judaism’s use and interpretation of the Bible throughout the ages
  • Section and book introductions that deliver insights into the background, structure, and meaning of the text
  • Running commentary beside the biblical text that provides in-depth theological interpretation
  • Features the Jewish Publication Society TANAKH translation
  • Full-color Oxford Bible maps
  • Verse and chapter differences between the Hebrew text and many English translations
  • Table of Scriptural readings for synagogue use
  • Glossary of technical terms

This study bible is the work of many of the leading Biblical scholars presently working.  Levenson, Brettler, Levine, Zevit, ben Zvi, Levinson, Berlin, Sasson, Fox, Eshel and an army of equally competent and equally learned and equally well known academics are responsible for introductions to each of the biblical books.  Furthermore, each major division of the Hebrew Bible (Torah, Nevi’im and Kethuvim) is introduced by Marc Zvi Brettler.

At the conclusion of the bible there follows a series of Essays under the major headings “Jewish Interpretation of the Bible”, “Biblical Ideas and Institutions”, “The Bible in Jewish Life”, “Backgrounds for Reading the Bible”, and “The Hebrew Bible in Other Scriptures”.   Some of these essays are

“The Bible in the Dead Sea Scrolls” – Esther Eshel
“Midrash and Jewish Exegesis” – David Stern
“The Religion of the Bible” – Stephen Geller
“Daily Life in Biblical Times” – Oded Borowski
“War and Peace in the Bible” – Jacob Wright
“The Jewish Bible in America” – Jonathan Sarna
“The History of Israel in the Biblical Period” – Oded Lipschits
“Archaeology and the Hebrew Bible” – Aren Maeir
“Textual Criticism” – Emanuel Tov
“Reading Biblical Poetry” – Adele Berlin
“Use of the Hebrew Bible in the New Testament” – Amy-Jill Levine

And dozens of others, covering every topic of relevance imaginable.  Afterwards, tables and charts are available describing weights and measures, a timeline, a chronological table of rulers, a calendar, a table of biblical readings, and a chart showing the differing chapter and verse numberings.  There’s also a glossary and finally a series of maps and an index to them.

Readers of the biblical text will find a lively and superior translation accompanied, in the margins by copious and thorough notes.  Textual notes are at the bottom of the page and explanations on the outer edge and the bottom, according to need.  The top of the page is reserved for the titles of sections, books, and chapters and verses.

So, for instance, at Exodus 38, verses 1- 20 occupy two thirds of the page, four textual notes sit at the bottom of the page, and to the right on the edge in another third of the page we find “38:1-8: The altar of burnt offering and the laver.  See 27.1-8; 30.17-21.  These would stand in the courtyard; they are not separated from each other as they were when first mentioned.  8:  The laver is not made from the copper (bronze) donated by the general public…”   And further down the page “38.9-20: The Enclosure.  See 27.9-19.”

The notes are explanatory, and offer reader’s an excellent precis of the meaning and significance of the pericope then under consideration.  The previously described essays at the end of the volume are authentically, and this is no exaggeration, brilliant.  Particularly noteworthy are those by J. Wright, A-J Levine, and A. Meier.  Students armed with this volume have at hand a library of biblical studies and not simply a Bible or even just a ‘study bible’.  Would that the entire bible (of we Protestants) were treated to such an excellent series of essays and illustrations.

This edition of the Bible is so useful, and so meritorious, that from hence it will be the required textbook for my Old Testament exegetical courses.  I recommend it to you for your consideration for such as well.  I think that you may well adopt it too.  Or you will, I cannot help but imagine, at least require it as a volume which must be consulted.

2 thoughts on “The Jewish Study Bible: Second Edition

  1. I think is a great book. And I totally agree with you about this not being a simple bible, but a library of theology and bible studies. Thanks for the recommendation!

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