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166 of 171 found the following review helpful:
In the beginning...Jun 05, 2003
By FrKurt Messick
The Tanakh, an edition of the Holy Scriptures of Judaism, put out by the Jewish Publication Society (JPS), is not simply a new translation of the Christian Old Testament. Indeed, most Christian readers would be surprised at the differences inherent in the Tanakh.
The word Tanakh consists of the first letters of the words denoting the three sections of the text: the Torah (the Law), consisting of the first five books; the Nevi'im (the Prophets), which includes major and minor prophets, as well as some of the history books; and the Kethuvim (the Writings), which consists of poetry, wisdom literature, stories and eschatological literature, and some further history books.
The first thing that strikes the reader more familiar with a Bible a la King James Version, is the the ordering of the books.
The intent behind the differing order demonstrates one of the key differences in focus of Judaism and Christianity. The ordering of the Old Testament, with the minor prophets, and their call to repentance and future deliverance of the people of Israel by God, is anticipatory of the Messianic age, and hence provide a `run-up' to the New Testament. Obviously, Judaism does not have the same focus toward Jesus. Thus, the conclusion of the Tanakh leads to the return from exile, the restoration of the people of Israel to the land of promise, and the return of the worship of God to the appointed place, the Temple.
The Tanakh was originally translated and published in three sections, corresponding to the three divisions of the text. Begun in 1955, The Torah was completed in 1962; then there was a wait until The Nevi'im was released in 1978, and The Kethuvim in 1982. This edition of the Tanakh is the compilation of these efforts by JPS, with revisions, especially of the 1962 Torah translation.
This is a reader's edition, not a scholar's edition. It is not heavily annotated, but there are markings and notes where translation difficulties and issues arose, for the attentive to pursue. The translators relied upon Hebrew editions, Aramaic targums, the Septuagint (a Greek translation), and were informed by subsequent translations, both Christian and Jewish. However, this edition has a translation and scholarly integrity all its own. The translations are careful in accuracy and beautiful in poetry, prose, and literary merit.
Minor differences include the shifting of some chapter and verse demarcations. Contrary to popular belief, the original text was not broken into chapters and verses. This division is neither ancient nor Jewish, but rather a medieval Christian copyist convention. Admittedly, it is almost inconceivable to have a Bible without chapters and verses, but the reader should be aware that these are not integral and infallible. There are instances where this edition combines and re-lines the divisions to make more sense; for instance, the verses of Genesis 7.24 and 8.1 have been joined to make a more fluid and consistent narrative.
I was honoured to have a Jewish friend read from this JPS edition a passage from I Samuel during my ordination. Her reading was magnificent. I think that it is very important in Biblical studies to utilise this text (among others) whenever doing research into the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament to gain a greater understanding of a text that is shared between different communities.
172 of 183 found the following review helpful:
A new experience...Oct 25, 2000
By David Bennett
I bought the Tanakh solely because it was the version required for an Old Testament class at a Christian Seminary I attend. I didn't know what to expect initially, because I had never heard of it before.
I must say I really enjoy the translation. It is the first time since the translation of the LXX that a large group of Jewish scholars have come together to translate the Jewish sacred texts. It was nice to read a Bible that was free of Christian influence, even though I am a Christian in faith. The translation is based on the traditional Masoretic text, but it uses the LXX and the Dead Sea scrolls when the Masoretic text is obscure. There are also scriptural readings for various feasts and holy days.
Overall, I find the translation readable and scholarly. As a Christian, I always have more "Christianized" versions around too, such as the RSV, REB, and NRSV, but it is important to have other scholarly translational perspectives as well. I do wish there would have been maps and some commentary included in the hardcover...perhaps in a future edition.
As a side note, the paperback version has a few typos in the text that the hardback lacks.
47 of 48 found the following review helpful:
Tanakh offers essential educationApr 17, 1997
I just finished reading Tanakh cover to cover.
As a Muslim reader of the Jewish Scriptures I feel enriched in a unique way. The Muslim Holy Book, the Qur'an, refers extensively and repeatedly to the Covenant God made with the Children of Israel. And even though I had read and heard about this for as long as I can remember, I think I have gained a much deeper insight and understanding than ever before, a perspective I am not sure I could have availed of elsewhere. Oh yes, I had read (actually *tried* to read) other translations of the Old Testament prior to reading Tanakh. This lucid translation helped me achieve what six years of Jesuit schooling and a decade old interest in comparative religion could not!
It may be difficult to believe, but reading Tanakh will actually help me understand some fine points in the Qur'an even better. I would recommend it to all Muslims, particularly those living in the West, and perhaps to all people, as an essential part of one's education in life.
Thanks to grandma for letting me borrow her copy, and thanks to our friends at Temple Beth Shalom for the bautiful gift. Just a note to Al Herary - Al, I am buying my own copy! :-)
82 of 89 found the following review helpful:
A beautiful, stunning and accurate translation!Nov 25, 1999
The Tanakh is a thoroughly researched and readable volume. It was refreshing to read the bible stories I grew up with in an accurate translation for adults, rather than as a pre-digested group of children's stories. Moreover, it was wonderful to read a first generation translation from the original Hebrew, rather than a rewrite of an old English translation. Additionally, one of the many benefits is that JPS chose to include, not only its own translation, but footnotes that refer to the translations of others, allowing the reader to identify and understand the differences. Its prose is modern and clear. This is a translation that will last long into the 21st century.
91 of 104 found the following review helpful:
A readable, but bad translationAug 22, 2000
This translation is in a class by itself. It is written in very clear, modern language, but it is not faithful to the Hebrew text! I know Hebrew, and sometimes I compare a part of the Bible that I know in Hebrew to the JPS translation, and it's like I'm reading a whole new text! Also, often, JPS takes the liberty of shuffling words from one verse to another "for greater clarity". These instances are pointed out in the footnotes (which are the best part of the book). My personal favorite is the ArtScroll translation of the Bible as it appears in their Stone edition of the Bible. The ArtScroll translation is extremely faithful, and in readable, clear, modern English.
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