I have been studying the relationship between and interdependence of the Old and New Testaments, so I was excited to come across The Complete Jewish Study Bible. The Complete Jewish Bible is a 1988 translation by David H. Stern that was recently updated in 2016. The Complete Jewish Study Bible makes use of the updated version. Three versions of this study bible are available in Hard Cover, Blue Imitation Leather, and Black Genuine Calfskin Leather. I reviewed the hardcover edition.
The hardcover is beautifully decorated and the bible itself feels solid, weighing over three pounds. The font size is easy to read (it looks like a size 9 font). It opens to a presentation page, table of contents, and explanation of the approach taken when developing the study bible. You’ll immediately notice the use of Jewish names with those familiar to English readers in parenthesis. Throughout this bible, the Jewish title of the book is on the left page and the English on the right. The books of the Old Testament are ordered according to TORAH (Teachings/Law), NEVI’IM (Prophets), K’TUVIM (Writings), so don’t expect the books to be in the same location as your typical Old Testament. I prefer the order in which they’ve followed. It more clearly defines the manner in which the books of the Old Testament were distinguished and revered. The New Testament keeps the traditional order as you would expect (those of us who grew up in Sunday School and learned the New Testament books song can still use it to navigate). The bible comes with two ribbons, which I believe is adequate for a study bible.
An impressive list of twenty-five contributors, both Jewish and Christian scholars, contributed to the study material found in this edition. Each book’s setting and significance is explained with an introduction and outline. Study notes are at the bottom and there are color blocks containing additional insights that provide greater understanding of the scriptures being read. One of the interesting insights I came across is that the wedding ceremony tradition of lifting the veil of the bride originates in the story of Leah and Rachel (read Genesis 29 and you’ll understand the importance of checking to make sure you are marrying the correct person). Hebrew names and significant words are used throughout the Bible. There is a glossary in the back with pronunciation and explanation, which could serve as a deterrent for those pastors and speakers trying to avoid butchering names and locations of the ancient world. Indexes are provided by themes, as well biographies of the contributors. The last pages of the Bible contain eight detailed maps illustrating the lands referred to in scripture.
My only critique is that I would like to see some kind of explanation of the intertestamental period from the Jewish perspective about which many western Christians are not educated.
This is an extremely good study bible for those who are seeking to greater understand the unity of the Old and New Testaments. I will be using it for its unique perspective as a reference along with other commentaries and study bibles when writing and studying. I would recommend The Complete Jewish Study Bible to anyone who is seeking a resource to provide further insight to the culture, events, and history of the Old and New Testaments.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hendrickson Publishers for the purpose of this review.