The Complete Jewish Study Bible comes to us with the theme of “Insights for Jews & Christians” and the goal of “Illuminating the Jewishness of God’s Word.” What a treasure this provides in one volume – something I’ve been hoping for since my husband bought me The Complete Jewish Bible and separate commentary, which I reviewed a few years ago.
This hardback edition published by Hendrickson Bibles, who kindly sent me a copy to review, offers “Features Unique to The Complete Jewish Study Bible” (CJSB) such as “New Bible Book Introductions” from a Jewish perspective and “Study Notes” in the bottom margins “to help readers understand the deeper meanings behind the Jewish text.”
Additionally, over 100 color-coded articles in sidebars throughout the text focus on these twelve significant themes:
Anti-Jewish Scriptural Interpretations
The Name of God
The Sabbath (Shabbat)
Salvation and Atonement
The Holy Days of Israel
The Land of Israel
The Tabernacle (Mishkan)
In his introduction, translator and scholar David H. Stern, who provided us with this biblical text in English, begins by asking “Why is this Bible different from all other Bibles?” bringing to mind a traditional question, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” asked by the youngest person at the Passover Seder.
And why is this Bible different? The CJSB “restores the Jewish unity of the Bible,” giving Messianic Jews the opportunity to see Jesus’ Jewishness in the New Covenant and Christians a fuller view of Jesus in the Torah.
For example, a footnote to Genesis 2:15 comments on the phrase “To cultivate and care for it” as coming from “The Hebrew word for ‘work,’ avodah,” which “is the same for ‘manual labor’ and ‘worshipping God.’ The picture we see here of the human’s work is that it was also a form of worship.”
To give you an example of the importance of Jewish insight into the New Testament, Nicodemus was more confused by Jesus statement “You must be born again” in John 3:3 than most of us Christians ever realized. According to Pharisaic Judaism, a person had six ways to be born again:
Converting to Judaism
Becoming bar mitzvah
Being ordained as a rabbi
Heading a rabbinical school
Being crowned king
Since (Nicodemus) “Nakdimon had gone through every process available in Judaism to being ‘born again’….” Jesus (Yeshua) had “the opportunity to explain some spiritual truths to this already ‘born again’ teacher of Is’rael, primarily that he still needed to be spiritually ‘born again’.”
I would be delighted to give you more and more examples of how the CJSB blesses readers who love God’s Word, but I pray you’ll see for yourself. Since I'm posting this review on the last day of National Bible Week, it's a great time to find out!
Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, reviewer
The Complete Jewish Study Bible, hardcover