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August 7, 2008 / vivator

Jewish Bible

The Jewish Study Bible (or JSB for short), English translation of Jewish Scripture, was prepared by The Jewish Publication Society and was published by Oxford University Press.  As expected it has only Old Testament books, arranged in three divisions: Torah (the Law), the Prophets (Nevi’im) and the Writings (Kethuvim). Tanakh, Jewish designation of their Scripture is the acronym of these three divisions.

The Law comprises five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  The Prophets or Nevi’im is divided into two sub-groups: former and latter prophets.  Former prophets have Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 2 Kings.  Traditionally the two books of Samuel and Kings are combined into one.  The latter prophets comprise Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Twelve Minor Prophets (from Hosea to Malachi in one book).  The third division, Kethuvim, begins with Psalms, Proverbs and Job, followed by the Scrolls (or the Five Megillot): The Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther; and ends with historical books (Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles).  Ezra and Nehemiah are traditionally combined into one book; and the same applies to 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles.  Total number of books is twenty four, if we combined all the above mentioned books or twenty eight, if we don’t.  They are equal, with different arrangement of books, to Protestant’s Old Testament. Catholic’s and Eastern Orthodox’ Old Testament has more books, known as apocryphal books to Protestants.

Genesis 3:15 of JSB reads (underlined emphasis added):

I will put enmity

Between you and the woman,

And between your offspring and hers;

They shall strike at your head,

And you shall strike at their heel.

Catholic and Protestant’s Old Testament does not use third person plural but singular masculine (he and his).  Older Catholic translation, based on Vulgate, used third person singular feminine.  The last two lines of the same verse in KJV read (underlines emphasis added): it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (the reason is the word seed or offspring in Hebrews has neuter gender).

According to Exodus 15:4 of JSB the Egyptians were drowned in Sea of Reeds (marshland in upper Nile delta); while according to most, if not all, Catholic and Protestant’s Old Testament they were drowned in Red Sea, as according to Septuagint (or LXX) and quoted in Acts 7:36 and Hebrews 11:29. The famous prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 of JSB has young woman (Hebrews “almah”); while following Septuagint, most Catholic and Protestant’s Old Testament has virgin (Greek “parthenos”).

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2 Comments

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  1. tjoseph / Aug 9 2008 7:12 am

    Yay! Septuagint! This is very interesting. Of course, there is always bias involved in any translation. The Masoretic text was just another translation into Hebrew by non-believing (non-Christian) Jews of that time so as to have a uniform version to be read in the Synogogues. The JPS is the same in English.
    I would be interested in finding out how the Dead Sea Scrolls render those passages. I’ve seen comparisons that show that the DSS agrees with LXX more often than the Masoretic text.

  2. vivator / Aug 10 2008 12:09 pm

    There is English translation of Dead Sea Scrolls available – so far I don’t have a chance to get a copy.

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