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The New Jewish Publication Society Tanakh


Humble Disciple
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I am reading the Old Testament from beginning to end for the first time, using the New Jewish Publication Society Tanakh:

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Regarded throughout the English-speaking world as the standard English translation of the Holy Scriptures, the JPS TANAKH has been acclaimed by scholars, rabbis, lay leaders, Jews, and Christians alike. The JPS TANAKH is an entirely original translation of the Holy Scriptures into contemporary English, based on the Masoretic (the traditional Hebrew) text. It is the culmination of three decades of collaboration by academic scholars and rabbis, representing the three largest branches of organized Judaism in the United States. Not since the third century b.c.e., when 72 elders of the tribes of Israel created the Greek translation of Scriptures known as the Septuagint has such a broad-based committee of Jewish scholars produced a major Bible translation.

In executing this monumental task, the translators made use of the entire range of biblical interpretation, ancient and modern, Jewish and non-Jewish. They drew upon the latest findings in linguistics and archaeology, as well as the work of early rabbinic and medieval commentators, grammarians, and philologians. The resulting text is a triumph of literary style and biblical scholarship, unsurpassed in accuracy and clarity.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/901111.Tanakh

 

Unlike their 1917 translation, the new JPS Tanakh was entirely original and not based on any previous Christian translation. It's both relatively easy to read and accurate to the traditional Masoretic text. The Hebrew Bible is coming alive to me in a way I never imagined.

The word Tanakh is derived from the traditional threefold division of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah (law), Nevi'im (prophets), and Kethuvim (writings). In Luke 24:44, Jesus refers to this threefold division of the Hebrew canon.

I am now at the Book of Ezekiel. While the local Chabad rabbi recommended to me the Artscroll translation, which is more expensive, the local Conservative rabbi recommended the NJPS Tanakh. Orthodox rabbis seem to recommend the Artscroll translation more often, though Orthodox rabbis and scholars participated in the NJPS translation.

A significant difference between the Hebrew Tanakh and Christian translations is that the Books of Chronicles are included at the very end, in order to summarize the story of the Hebrew Bible. In Christian versions, people often skip over the Books of Chronicles, thinking that it's just a repeat of the Books of Kings.

 

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1 hour ago, Humble Disciple said:
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Unlike their 1917 translation, the new JPS Tanakh was entirely original and not based on any previous Christian translation.

Entirely original? Not sure that is a good thing. The Bible has been translated into English for ~500 years. Most of the bases have been covered. "Scholars" distinguish themselves through "originality" which may just be some hocus pocus like nonsense to be different than those who went before. I read the entire ArtScroll version of Esther in Bar Mitzvah boy Hebrew. One thing, which surprised me, was the way the relationship between Mordecai and Esther was described. My recollection is that he was raising Esther to become his future wife. He didn't just send his niece to save the Jewish people, he sent his intended. Also read many of the Psalms in the Metsudah Tehillim edition. While the definition of the Hebrew words had a richer meaning than captured in English, I don't recall any radical differences.

Have you noticed any significant differences between the translations? Significant differences can be found in the English translation of the LXX when compared to  other English translations of the OT. Probably not the case within the Hebrew to English versions. Most OT verses quoted in the NT come from the LXX, not the Hebrew. 

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27 minutes ago, GHansen said:

Entirely original? Not sure that is a good thing. The Bible has been translated into English for ~500 years. Most of the bases have been covered.

By "entirely original," doesn't this mean not dependent on any Christian translation? If you've been reading Christian translations of the Old Testament your entire life, why not include in your library a Jewish perspective of the scriptures, from scholars and rabbis who were qualified to provide the translation? 

27 minutes ago, GHansen said:

Most OT verses quoted in the NT come from the LXX, not the Hebrew. 

The Dead Sea Scrolls sometimes favor the Masoretic text and sometimes favor the Septuagint. The DSS therefore are an ancient witness to both. If you've been reading Christian translations of the Old Testament your entire life, which tend to favor the Septuagint whenever it differs from the Masoretic text, it's worth seeing, from a scholarly standpoint, what a Jewish translation of the Masoretic text would say. 

Of course, the NJPS Tanakh wasn't translated in a vacuum, despite being a fresh translation:

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In executing this monumental task, the translators made use of the entire range of biblical interpretation, ancient and modern, Jewish and non-Jewish. They drew upon the latest findings in linguistics and archaeology, as well as the work of early rabbinic and medieval commentators, grammarians, and philologians. The resulting text is a triumph of literary style and biblical scholarship, unsurpassed in accuracy and clarity.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/901111.Tanakh

 

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Another thing is that the footnotes of the NJPS Tanakh will often give the translation from the Septuagint when it differs from the Masoretic text. 

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2 hours ago, Humble Disciple said:

a Jewish perspective of the scriptures,

A Jewish perspective of the Scriptures is that Jesus is not the Messiah, that none of the OT verses quoted in the NT truly apply to Jesus. That's a Jewish perspective of the Scriptures. I had the JPS OT in my collection of versions but dropped it a few years ago. I noticed nothing there  that differed significantly from other English translations. Judaism, as a religion, has failed to recognize Christ as the Messiah for the past 2000 years. At least some of the Chabad people believed the Lubavitcher Rebbe M.M. Schneerson was the Messiah. He wasn't. Previously, there was the Sabbati Zvi who deceived many East European Jews before converting to Islam. 

The LXX is different enough from other versions that it is worth consulting. It differs from the Hebrew OT whereas most English translations differ from one another but are based upon a remarkably similar OT original, according to people who are qualified to comment authoritatively on such things i.e., read the OL fluently.

"The Dead Sea Scrolls sometimes favor the Masoretic text and sometimes favor the Septuagint. " Are you saying that there are examples in the DSS that attest to the veracity of a  Hebrew text contrary to the traditional Hebrew? Can you provide a reference to support your remark? 

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HD, My request for a reference is offered in the sense of inquiry, not challenge. I haven't studied these matters for a long time. My recollection is that at that time,  scholars were still unsure of what to make of the textual variations in the LXX. Perhaps now, a definitive Hebrew text upon which the LXX is based has been discovered/recovered?

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5 hours ago, GHansen said:

 I had the JPS OT in my collection of versions but dropped it a few years ago.

Was it the 1917 translation or the more recent 1985 translation? Whereas the 1985 translation is a fresh translation, the 1917 translation was largely dependent on Christian translations of the Old Testament. 

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5 hours ago, GHansen said:

"The Dead Sea Scrolls sometimes favor the Masoretic text and sometimes favor the Septuagint. " Are you saying that there are examples in the DSS that attest to the veracity of a  Hebrew text contrary to the traditional Hebrew? Can you provide a reference to support your remark? 

Were you previously unaware that the DSS sometimes favor the Masoretic text and sometimes favor the Septuagint? The DSS is a vast library of many different texts. What this suggests is that the Septuagint, rather than being a corruption of the text, was based on a different textual tradition from the Masoretic text, and that they're both legitimate. 

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4 hours ago, GHansen said:

HD, My request for a reference is offered in the sense of inquiry, not challenge. I haven't studied these matters for a long time. My recollection is that at that time,  scholars were still unsure of what to make of the textual variations in the LXX. Perhaps now, a definitive Hebrew text upon which the LXX is based has been discovered/recovered?

https://www.google.com/search?q=dead+sea+scrolls+sometimes+favor+the+septuagint&rlz=1C1CHBD_enUS857US857&sxsrf=AJOqlzWuEdeTO3bXcQY5Puv-F8K6FpM6aA%3A1673374386179&ei=sqq9Y8XICr7E0PEP0ZWg4As&ved=0ahUKEwjF6fSuzb38AhU-IjQIHdEKCLwQ4dUDCBA&uact=5&oq=dead+sea+scrolls+sometimes+favor+the+septuagint&gs_lcp=Cgxnd3Mtd2l6LXNlcnAQAzIFCAAQogQyBQgAEKIEOgoIABBHENYEELADSgQIQRgASgQIRhgAUKACWKACYJ4FaAFwAXgAgAFMiAFMkgEBMZgBAKABAcgBCMABAQ&sclient=gws-wiz-serp#ip=1

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https://www.google.com/search?q=dead+sea+scrolls+sometimes+favor+the+septuagint&rlz=1C1CHBD_enUS857US857&sxsrf=AJOqlzWuEdeTO3bXcQY5Puv-F8K6FpM6aA%3A1673374386179&ei=sqq9Y8XICr7E0PEP0ZWg4As&ved=0ahUKEwjF6fSuzb38AhU-IjQIHdEKCLwQ4dUDCBA&uact=5&oq=dead+sea+scrolls+sometimes+favor+the+septuagint&gs_lcp=Cgxnd3Mtd2l6LXNlcnAQAzIFCAAQogQyBQgAEKIEOgoIABBHENYEELADSgQIQRgASgQIRhgAUKACWKACYJ4FaAFwAXgAgAFMiAFMkgEBMZgBAKABAcgBCMABAQ&sclient=gws-wiz-serp#ip=1

 

Sorry, I can't access the material on this link. Since I read neither Greek or Hebrew fluently, it's not a big deal. I did find an article by Tov on this topic which I'm reading now. If you like the new JPS version, that's great. For a time, I read the Metsudah Tehillim. I also spent a lot of time reading Lamsa's translation of the NT. If you find anything in the new JPS which notably differs from versions such as the ESV, NRV, I'd be interested in seeing the difference. The JPS I was using must have been the older edition. I congratulate anyone who reads almost any version of the Bible.

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1 hour ago, GHansen said:

https://www.google.com/search?q=dead+sea+scrolls+sometimes+favor+the+septuagint&rlz=1C1CHBD_enUS857US857&sxsrf=AJOqlzWuEdeTO3bXcQY5Puv-F8K6FpM6aA%3A1673374386179&ei=sqq9Y8XICr7E0PEP0ZWg4As&ved=0ahUKEwjF6fSuzb38AhU-IjQIHdEKCLwQ4dUDCBA&uact=5&oq=dead+sea+scrolls+sometimes+favor+the+septuagint&gs_lcp=Cgxnd3Mtd2l6LXNlcnAQAzIFCAAQogQyBQgAEKIEOgoIABBHENYEELADSgQIQRgASgQIRhgAUKACWKACYJ4FaAFwAXgAgAFMiAFMkgEBMZgBAKABAcgBCMABAQ&sclient=gws-wiz-serp#ip=1

 

Sorry, I can't access the material on this link. Since I read neither Greek or Hebrew fluently, it's not a big deal. I did find an article by Tov on this topic which I'm reading now. If you like the new JPS version, that's great. For a time, I read the Metsudah Tehillim. I also spent a lot of time reading Lamsa's translation of the NT. If you find anything in the new JPS which notably differs from versions such as the ESV, NRV, I'd be interested in seeing the difference. The JPS I was using must have been the older edition. I congratulate anyone who reads almost any version of the Bible.

I just copied and pasted the Google search, hoping you'd do the research on your own. It's fascinating. 

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Since I'm not a Greek or Hebrew scholar, all I can do is read the arguments of other men. It may be fascinating but it's redemptive value [for me] is marginal at best. I like to use computers, not work on them. Same with cars. I'll leave OL textual analysis to people who can actually do the work.

The extensive, nearly exclusive, use of the LXX in the NT is enough to convince me that it was/is a reliable version.

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While I don't have the language background to speak on the translation from that perspective, I have always loved reading and using in study this translation, and recently got a study version with so far very good notes! It will bring many with in Judaism into heaven!!!

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2 hours ago, Kevin H said:

While I don't have the language background to speak on the translation from that perspective, I have always loved reading and using in study this translation, and recently got a study version with so far very good notes!

What do you think of the NJPS translation in terms of being easy to read? What Christian translations would you compare it to in terms of readability? I'd compare it to the NIV, not too hard but definitely not a paraphrase either. 

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I have not really compared, but I do find it both easy to read, yet studible (if there is such a word) and (especially in the Study Bible, but even in the regular Bible) good notes. I really like it's language. When I was at Andrews I always included their reading with others for my classes. It will bring many of it's readers, both Christian and Jewish, and others who may read it, into heaven!!!

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13 hours ago, Kevin H said:

It will bring many of it's readers, both Christian and Jewish, and others who may read it, into heaven!!!

I don't feel comfortable going that far. If judgement belongs to God alone, I don't feel comfortable predicting who will go to heaven. 

https://www.openbible.info/topics/only_god_can_judge

What I can say for sure is that the JNPS Tanakh has helped me develop a stronger connection to the Hebrew Bible than I've had my entire life, and I'm thankful for that. 

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Before reading the following passage in Micah, I didn't know that God actually loves forgiving us of our sins. I thought God only forgave us out of a sense of duty or obligation.

image.png

Like I've said before, the NJPS Tanakh has helped me gain a deeper connection to the Hebrew Bible than I've had my entire life.

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On 1/12/2023 at 11:06 AM, Humble Disciple said:

I don't feel comfortable going that far. If judgement belongs to God alone, I don't feel comfortable predicting who will go to heaven. 

https://www.openbible.info/topics/only_god_can_judge

What I can say for sure is that the JNPS Tanakh has helped me develop a stronger connection to the Hebrew Bible than I've had my entire life, and I'm thankful for that. 

The Bible connects us to God. While there are those who read without letting it affect them, there are many who read God's word, has the Holy Spirit work on their hearts pointing them to God as personal and imamate friend (in Christian terms God the Son) and the words of scripture will guide them as they go through life. And when the Lord comes; they will recognize Him as their beloved friend. 

 

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While I need to use the terms "Old Testament" and "New Testament" so that people know what I'm saying; I prefer to use the term (and I hope this catches on) by using the word TANAKHA for Torah, Prophets, Writings, Apostalistic writings  

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On 1/15/2023 at 12:33 AM, Humble Disciple said:

Like I've said before, the NJPS Tanakh has helped me gain a deeper connection to the Hebrew Bible than I've had my entire life.

It appears that your connection is to a specific English translation of the Hebrew Bible. One doesn't get connected to the Hebrew Bible by reading an English translation. I studied Hebrew with a Jewish gentleman. He was connected to the Hebrew Scriptures. He could translate Hebrew and Aramaic into English by listening to a reading of the OL text. A rabbi i studied with, when he heard the English text,  would mentally translate it into Hebrew so he could tell other students where the text was in the English Bible. Those fellows were connected to the Hebrew Bible. An English translation is not the Hebrew Bible, no matter how much you are blessed by it. 

 

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