5 Stars Out Of 5
Favorable Review of the Momplete Jewish Study Bible
August 5, 2017
Stern, David H., and Barry A. Rubin, eds. The Complete Jewish Study Bible: Insights for Jews &
Christians: Illuminating the Jewishness of God's Word. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Bibles, 2016. 1728 pp. Hardback $49.95.
Editors David H. Stern and Barry A. Rubin have given us a unique study Bible that is unlike anything else out on the study Bible market these days.
Stern earned a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University and is a former professor of economics at UCLA. After coming to faith in Christ in 1975, he set out to learn more about both Judaism as well as Christianity. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, continued to do graduate work at the University of Judaism, and was active in the Messianic Jewish movement. In 1979, Stern immigrated to Israel and currently lives in Jerusalem. He is also known for his translation of the New Testament, The Jewish New Testament, and then of the whole Bible, The Complete Jewish Bible, done in 1998, as well as the companion commentary, The Jewish New Testament Commentary.
Rubin is the rabbi of Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation in Clarksville, Maryland which is the oldest extant Messianic congregation in the world. He has earned a Master of Arts in Communications from Ohio University. In 1988, he became director of The Lederer Foundation (now Messianic Jewish Publishers and Resources), a sixty-year-old organization in Clarksville, Maryland, and serves on several boards and has been a leader in the Messianic Judaism movement since the 1970s.
The Complete Jewish Study Bible (CJSB) is a revision of Stern's previously published Complete Jewish Bible, with notes by over twenty-five scholars, both Christian and Jewish. It seems that its primary purpose is to be a Bible designed to be used by Messianic Jewish congregations. As such, it has many helps with that constituency in mind. The books of the Bible are in the order of the Hebrew Scriptures but it contains three helpful tables of contents, so that someone not familiar with that format can find the book for which they are looking. The various parashoth of the Torah are marked along with appropriate readings from the New Testament.
The sacred tetragrammaton is translated as ADONAI in keeping with Jewish tradition for the reverence for the covenantal name of God. In the 270 times that the tetragrammaton occurs with the Hebrew title Adonai, then it is translated as Adonai ELOHIM. In the New Testament, the term kurios (Lord) is usually rendered as ADONAI, if it seems to refer to deity.
The translation of the Tanakh is taken from the Masoretic Text with very few textual deviations or emendations. The translation of the New Testament is primarily done from the United Bible Societies 3rd edition. The translation philosophy is self-described in the introduction as tending "toward the dynamically equivalent end of the scale."
More than with any other study Bible, it is absolutely imperative for the reader of the CJSB to read the lengthy forty-five-page introduction, in order to better understand the history, translation philosophy, and layout of the work. When one skips this, they can quickly become confused by many aspects of this Bible.
The CJSB contains a very helpful introductory summary of rabbinical literature to aid the uninformed reader in understanding the contributions of the Mishnah, the Tosefta and both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, as well as other rabbinical writings.
Each biblical book is proceeded by a short section giving the introductory background of the book, including an abbreviated outline of that particular book.
One of the unique contributions of the CJSB is the collection of topical articles, and 117 theme articles, under twelve headings, such as "Covenants," Jewish Customs," Jewish-Gentile Relations," "Messianic Prophecy," "The Names of God," "The Sabbath," and other subjects related to the relationship of Judaism, Christianity, and Messianic Judaism. Almost each page includes notes that give light to various Bible stories that often are overlooked by other study Bibles. Both the translation as well as the notes show a high view of Scripture's inspiration and inerrancy, as well as its applicability to the present time and these assumptions are laid out very specifically in the introduction. With regards to eschatology, it seems to lean toward a literal and premillennial understanding of the fulfillment of the prophetic sections of the Tanakh,
What the CJSB claims to do, it does very well. It seeks to show the Jewish roots of both the Tanakh and the New Testament. Readers who neglect to read the introduction will no doubt be mystified by the different order, names, and number of books in both the Tanakh and the New Testament, and by the Jewish references and spellings of the proper names of both characters, groups, titles and places. The CJSB contains several appendices that will aid the reader in getting the most out of this translation, including a helpful glossary of the Hebrew words to help the reader understand what the various unfamiliar terms mean, along with their pronunciation, and a list of scriptures in the Tanakh that are quoted in the New Testament.
After reading the CJSB, one comes away with a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the Jewish background of both testaments. Various indices are provided to help the reader find the information that is in this incredible work with a minimum of frustration. Also included are a series of eight maps that help the reader locate the places referred to in the CJSB.
This reviewer cannot help but highly recommend the CJSB to those who wish to gain an insight into the Jewish background of both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. As stated above, it seems to be designed as a Bible suited for Messianic Jewish congregations, but it also will have an appeal to anyone who has an interest in the Jewish backgrounds of both testaments of the Holy Scriptures. And so it fills a significant lacuna left by the plethora of other study Bibles out in today's Bible market.