Lexham English Bible Critique Essay

"ESV" redirects here. For other uses, see ESV (disambiguation).

English Standard Version
Full nameEnglish Standard Version
Complete Bible
2001 (revisions in 2007, 2011, and 2016); Apocrypha 2009
Derived fromRSV—1971 Revision
Textual basis
Translation typeFormal Equivalence
Reading level8.0[2]
Version revision
PublisherCrossway Bibles
CopyrightThe Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Genesis 1:1–3

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

Genesis 1:1 in other translations

The English Standard Version (ESV) is an English translation of the Christian Bible. It is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version[3] that employs an "essentially literal" translation philosophy.[4]


Work on this translation was prompted, in the early 1990s, by what the publisher, Crossway Books, stated was a need for a new literal translation by scholars and pastors.[5] A translation committee was formed, and it sought and received permission from the National Council of Churches to use the 1971 edition of the RSV as the English textual basis for the ESV. About 6 percent was revised in the ESV.[6]

Translation philosophy[edit]

The stated intent of the translators was to follow an "essentially literal" translation philosophy while taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages.[7] The ESV uses some gender-neutral language.[8]


In 2007, the ESV underwent a minor revision, and the publisher did not identify the updated text as a revised edition. The update changed about 500 words by focusing on grammar, consistency, and clarity.[9] One notable change was from "wounded for our transgressions" to "pierced for our transgressions".[9]

In April 2011, another edition was issued, involving 275 verses and less than 500 words. The publisher announced the intention of the changes were to correct grammar, improve consistency or increase precision in meaning. [9] The 2007 edition has been gradually phased out.[10]

In August 2016, Crossway announced the "ESV Permanent Text Edition" with 52 word changes[11] in 29 verses. The publishers announced their intention to leave the text alone for the foreseeable future after this update.[12][13] However, this policy was abandoned the following month, with Crossway announcing that they would still consider "minimal and infrequent" updates to reflect "textual discoveries or changes in English over time". Lane Dennis, Crossway's president and CEO, said: "We apologize for this and for any concern this has caused for readers of the ESV [...] Our desire, above all, is to do what is right before the Lord."[14].


The publisher, citing that the ESV has been growing in popularity, authorized an edition of the ESV with the Deuterocanonical (Apocryphal) books included, which was developed by Oxford University Press and published in January 2009.[15][verification needed] The publisher's hope for this new edition which includes the Deuterocanonicals is that it will be used widely in seminaries and divinity schools where these books are used as a part of academic study.[16][verification needed]

The ESV version of the Deuterocanonicals is a revision of the Revised Standard Version 1977 Expanded Edition. The team translating the Deuterocanonicals includes Bernard A. Taylor, David A. deSilva, and Dan McCartney, under the editorship of David Aiken.[15][verification needed] In the edition including these books, they are printed and arranged in the order of the RSV and NRSV Common Bibles. The Oxford translating team relied on the Göttingen Septuagint for all of the Deuterocanonicals except 4 Maccabees (relying there on Rahlf's Septuagint) and 2 Esdras (the Ancient Greek of which has not survived), which used the German Bible Society's 1983 edition Vulgate.[15]

On 4 February 2018, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India released the English Standard Version Catholic Edition which includes the Deuterocanonicals.[17]


The ESV has been used as the text of a number of study Bibles, including:

Additionally, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod adopted the ESV as the official text used in its official hymnal Lutheran Service Book, released in August 2006.[25]


Mark L. Strauss, in a paper presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, criticized the ESV for using dated language and stated it is unsuited for mainstream use.[6] On the other hand, he has defended gender-inclusive language in translation and claims the ESV uses similar gender-inclusive language and speculated that criticism of the ESV by competing Bible translations is contrived for marketing purposes.[6] ESV translator Wayne Grudem has responded that, while on occasion the ESV translates person or one where previous translations used man, it keeps gender-specific language and does not go as far as other translations; the ESV website makes a similar statement. ESV translator William D. Mounce has called these arguments against the ESV ad hominem.[26]

Criticism has arisen in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, which uses the ESV as its official translation, that its frequent translation of the Hebrew word mishpatim ("judgements" or "decrees") as "rules" is not only an impoverished translation of a very rich word, but also somewhat legalistic.[citation needed]


  1. ^Clontz & Clontz (2008, Preface) ranks the English Standard Version in sixth place in a comparison of twenty-one translations, at 83% correspondence to the Nestle-Aland 27th ed.
  2. ^Rose Publishing 2006[citation not found]
  3. ^Stec 2004, p. 421
  4. ^Decker, Rodney (2004), "The English Standard Version: A Review Article"(PDF), The Journal of Ministry & Theology, 8 (2): 5–31 
  5. ^Crossway Staff 2006
  6. ^ abcStrauss 2008
  7. ^Crossway Bibles 2011, p. VII
  8. ^Decker, Rodney (2004), "The English Standard Version: A Review Article"(PDF), The Journal of Ministry & Theology, 8 (2): 16–17 
  9. ^ abcDennis 2011
  10. ^Butterfield, Glen (2013). Bible Unity. WestBowPress. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-4908-0549-8. 
  11. ^"ESV Permanent Text Edition (2016): Word Changes". ESV.org. Archived from the original on August 20, 2016. 
  12. ^"Forums: ESV Permanent Text Edition, Free Update". AccordanceBible.com. 
  13. ^"UPDATE: 2016 ESV Permanent Text Edition". UPDATE: 2016 ESV Permanent Text Edition. August 3, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016. 
  14. ^Weber, Jeremy (September 28, 2016). "Theology: Crossway Reverses Decision to Make ESV Bible Text Permanent (Amid much public debate, publisher says strategy for a 'stable' Bible was a 'mistake')". Christianity Today (September 2016). 
  15. ^ abcOxford University Press 2009, p. 1177
  16. ^Oxford University Press 2012
  17. ^"Catholic Edition of ESV Bible Launched". Daijiworld. 2018-02-10. 
  18. ^Concordia Publishing House (October 31, 2009), The Lutheran Study Bible: English Standard Version, Concordia Publishing House, ISBN 978-0-7586-1760-6, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  19. ^Concordia Publishing House (August 28, 2012), The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition with Notes, Concordia Publishing House, ISBN 978-0758625472, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  20. ^ESV Global Study Bible. Crossway. ISBN 978-1-4335-3567-3. 
  21. ^ESV Study Bible, HarperCollins Publishers Limited, April 14, 2011, ISBN 978-0-00-743766-5, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  22. ^Crossway Bibles (August 10, 2010), The Macarthur Study Bible: English Standard Version, Good News Publisher, ISBN 978-1-4335-0400-6, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  23. ^Sproul, R C, ed. (July 1, 2008), Reformation Study Bible (ESV), P & R Publishing Company, ISBN 978-1-59638-136-0, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  24. ^Oxford University Press (March 2, 2006), The Scofield Study Bible: English Standard Version, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-527877-4, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  25. ^Concordia Publishing House (January 1, 2005), Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House, pp. Copyright Page, ISBN 978-0-7586-1218-2, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  26. ^Mounce 2011


  • Brueggemann, Walter (January 25, 2010), Genesis: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, Westminster John Knox Press, ISBN 978-0-664-23437-9, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  • Clontz, T E; Clontz, J, eds. (December 2008), The Comprehensive New Testament: New Testament with Complete Textual Variation Mapping and Special Highlights of Parallels for the Dead Sea Scrolls, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Josephus, Patristic Writings, Philo, Plato, Pseudepigrapha, and Talmud, Cornerstone Publications, ISBN 978-0-9778737-1-5, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  • Craigie, Peter (1983), Metzger, Bruce, ed., Psalms 1-50, Word Books, ISBN 978-0-8499-0218-5, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  • ESV Bible, Crossway, 2010, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  • Crossway Bibles (December 28, 2011), Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Good News Publisher, ISBN 978-1-4335-3087-6, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  • "Manuscripts Used in Translating the ESV", About the ESV Translation, Crossway, 2010a, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  • Crossway Staff (February 21, 2006), The Origin of the ESV, Crossway, archived from the original on June 24, 2011, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  • Dennis, Lane (April 2011), Word Changes in the ESV Bible Text -2011(PDF), Crossway, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  • Grudem, Wayne (November 8, 2005), Translating Truth: The Case for Essentially Literal Bible Translation, Weaton: Crossway, ISBN 978-1-58134-755-5, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  • Harris, Robert (1957), Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Books, ISBN 0-310-25891-X 
  • Isbell, Charles (June 1977), "Does the Gospel of Matthew Proclaim Mary's Virginity?", Biblical Archaeology Society, 3 (2), retrieved December 7, 2012 
  • Johnson, S. Lewis (1953), "The Revised Standard New Testament", Bibliotheca Sacra, 110: 62–65 
  • Mounce, Bill (2011), ETS Day 2 by Bill Mounce, Zondervan, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  • The English Standard Version Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments with Apocrypha, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, ISBN 0-19-528910-2 
  • English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha, Oxford University Press, 2012, retrieved December 7, 2012 
  • The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version (Catholic ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 1-58617-100-3 
  • Bible Translations Comparison Pamphlet, Rose Publishing, 2007, ISBN 1-59636-133-6 
  • Ryken, Leland (2002), The Word of God in English, Wheaton: Crossway, ISBN 1-58134-464-3 
  • Stec, D (July 2004), "Review: The Holy Bible: English Standard Version", Vestus Testamentum, Leiden: Brill, 54 (3): 421, ISSN 0042-4935, JSTOR 1518879 
  • Strauss, Mark (November 25, 2008), Why the English Standard Version (ESV) Should not become the Standard English Version(PDF), Presented at the annual Evangelical Theological Society meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, San Diego, retrieved November 19, 2014 
  • Unger, Merrill (1953), "The Revised Standard Old Testament", Bibliotheca Sacra, 110: 54–61 
  • The Gideon: Development and Growth of the English Standard Version, The Gideons International, June–July 2013, retrieved October 14, 2013 

External links[edit]

Jewish English Bible translations are English translations of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) according to the Masoretic Text,[1] in the traditional division and order of Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim. Most Jewish translations appear in bilingual editions (Hebrew–English).

Jewish translations often reflect traditional Jewish exegesis of the Bible; all such translations eschew the Christological interpretations present in many non-Jewish translations.[2][3] Jewish translations contain neither the books of the apocrypha[4] nor the Christian New Testament.

Lack of centrality[edit]

In general, English Bible translation has been less central and not as widespread among Jews as among Christians (the latter having produced dozens of modern translations and versions in English along with sets of initials to distinguish them).[5] This is partially due to the fact that English became the major spoken language among Jews only in the era since the Holocaust. Before then, even Jews in English-speaking countries were still part of an immigrant culture to a large extent, which meant that they could either understand the Hebrew Bible in its original language to a certain degree or, if they required a translation, were still not fully comfortable in English. Many translated Bibles and prayer books from before the Holocaust were still in Yiddish, even those published in countries like the United States.

A further reason that English Bible translation is less central to Jews than Christians is that often, those Jews who study the Bible regularly still do so, to a greater or lesser extent, in its original language, as it is read in the synagogue. Even those who require translations often prefer a bilingual edition.[5] Nevertheless, Jewish translations of the Bible to English have become far more widespread, especially since the 1980s, and been made available in numerous complementary versions and styles. For example:

Ex. 20:7–9a (8-10a):
זָכוֹר אֶת-יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ. שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל-מְלַאכְתֶּךָ. וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא-תַעֲשֶׂה כָל-מְלָאכָה ...
yields the following:

THE LIVING TORAH: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. You can work during the six weekdays and do all your tasks. But Saturday is the Sabbath to God your Lord. Do not do anything that constitutes work....

SAMSON RAPHAEL HIRSCH: Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it. Six days shall you serve and do all your [creating] work, and the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. On it you shall not perform any kind of [creating] work....

ARTSCROLL: Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it. Six days shall you work and accomplish all your work; but the seventh day is Sabbath to HASHEM, your God; you shall not do any work....

SCHOCKEN: Remember / the Sabbath day, to hallow it. / For six days, you are to serve, and are to make all your work, / but the seventh day / is Sabbath for YHWH your God: / you are not to make any kind of work....

1985 NEW JPS TANAKH:[6] Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God: you shall not do any work....

1917 OLD JPS TANAKH: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is a sabbath unto the LORD thy God, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work...

This article lists many Jewish translations with short descriptions (and sometimes with links to fuller, in-depth articles about specific translations).

Isaac Leeser translation[edit]

The first American Jewish English translation of the Torah, and subsequently of the entire Tanakh, was the 19th century effort by Isaac Leeser. Leeser began with a five-volume, bilingual Hebrew–English edition of the Torah and haftarot, The Law of God (Philadelphia, 1845). His translation of the entire Bible into English was completed as The Twenty-four books of the Holy Scriptures in 1853 (commonly called The Leeser Bible). In 1857 he re-issued it in a second (folio-size) edition, with abridged notes.[7]

Until the 1917 Jewish Publication Society translation, the Leeser translation was the most important Jewish English translation. It was widely used in North American synagogues and reprinted in England.[8]

A modern writer notes that despite its longevity, Leeser's translation was "wooden" and "devoid of literary distinction". He concludes that "it is perhaps the existence of Leeser's work rather than its merits that marks it as a noteworthy achievement".[9]

Abraham Benisch translation[edit]

Following upon the Leeser translation, and partially simultaneously with it, was the Anglo-Jewish translation by Abraham Benisch: A Translation of the Tanakh, Published with the Hebrew Text, which was published in England in four sequential volumes from 1851 to 1861.[10]

Michael Friedländer's Jewish Family Bible[edit]

Michael Friedländer edited a Jewish Family Bible in English and Hebrew. It was published in England in 1881. The Friedländer edition is similar in style to the King James Version but diverges primarily in places where the King James translation reflects a Christian interpretation that is at odds with the traditional Jewish understanding. While it never gained wide popularity, it influenced the editors of the first JPS edition,[8] and is cited as the basis for a revised translation found in the Koren Hebrew-English edition.

The Jewish Family Bible is currently available in a facsimile edition from Sinai Publishers.

Jewish Publication Society translations[edit]

The translations of the Jewish Publication Society of America (JPS) have become the most popular English translations of the Hebrew Bible[citation needed]. JPS has published two such translations.

Old JPS (1917)[edit]

The first JPS translation was completed in 1917 by a committee led by Max Margolis and was based on the scholarship of its day. Its literary form was consciously based on that of the King James Version; Margolis, a non-native speaker of English, felt that was the proper standard of language that Jews should adopt for their translation. The Old JPS translation was used in a number of Jewish works published before the 1980s, such as the Pentateuch and Haftaroth edited by J. H. Hertz and the Soncino Books of the Bible series. The translation committee included Cyrus Adler, Solomon Schechter, Kaufmann Kohler, Samuel Schulman, and David Philipson.[11] However, Schechter and Jacobs died before the translation was completed.[12]

Some of the copies had been printed with a serious printing error. A typesetter dropped a tray of type for first chapter of Isaiah and had incorrectly reset the type.[13]

New JPS (1985)[edit]

The 1917 translation was felt to be outdated by the 1950s, and a new effort developed that involved cooperation between numerous Jewish scholars from a variety of denominations. The translation of the Torah was started in 1955 and completed in 1962. Nevi'im was published in 1978 and Ketuvim in 1984.

The entire Tanakh was revised and published in one volume in 1985, and a bilingual Hebrew–English version appeared in 1999 (also in one volume). The translation is usually referred to as the "New JPS version", abbreviated NJPS (it has also been called the "New Jewish Version" or NJV).

The translators of the New JPS version were experts in both traditional Jewish exegesis of the Bible and modern biblical scholarship. The translation attempts in all cases to present the original meaning of the text in a highly aesthetic form. The translation is not a word-for-word translation and is described by its publisher as being "in the spirit of Saadia".[14]

The New JPS version is adapted for gender-neutral language in The Torah: A Modern Commentary, revised edition (2005, Union for Reform Judaism, ISBN 978-0-8074-0883-4), the official Torah commentary of Reform Judaism, where it appears together with the work of translator Chaim Stern. NJPS is also used in Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary (2001, Jewish Publication Society, ISBN 0-8276-0712-1), the official Torah commentary of Conservative Judaism. It is the base translation for The Jewish Study Bible (2004, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-529751-2). And NJPS is the basis for The Contemporary Torah: A Gender-Sensitive Adaptation of the JPS Translation (2006, JPS, ISBN 0-8276-0796-2), also known as CJPS. The JPS Bible, a pocket paperback edition of the New JPS version was published and made available as of 2008 by the Jewish Publication Society as well as an illustrated children's Bible as of 2009.

The Holy Scriptures[edit]

First published in 1936, revised in 1951, by the Hebrew Publishing Company, revised by Alexander Harkavy, a Hebrew Bible translation in English, which contains the form Jehovah as the Divine Name in Exodus 6:3, Psalm 83:18, and Isaiah 12:2 and three times in compound place names at Genesis 22:14, Exodus 17:15 and Judges 6:24 as well as Jah in Psalm 68:4. The use of the divine name Jehovah was and still is very unusual for a Jewish Bible, although this Bible never gained the popularity of the JPS Tanakh, Alexander Harkavy has been remembered for his contributions to Jewish literature and the development of modern Yiddish. This Bible's translation style is comparable to the 1917 JPS Tanakh.

The Jewish Bible for Family Reading[edit]

In 1957 Joseph Gaer produced an abridged translation called The Jewish Bible for Family Reading. Influenced by biblical source criticism and the documentary hypothesis, Gaer moved all "duplications, specifications, detailed descriptions of rituals and genealogies" to a summary in an appendix; made a separate appendix summary of the Torah's "principal laws;" and omitted "all obvious redundancies."[15]

Intended for the English reader with little or no knowledge of Hebrew, the text of The Jewish Bible for Family Reading is organized in brief sections with descriptive titles (such as "The Story of Creation" and "Isaac Takes a Bride") without the verse numbers that are typical of Bible translations.[15]

The Koren Jerusalem Bible[edit]

Main article: Eliyahu Koren § The Koren Bible

The Koren Jerusalem Bible (not to be confused with the Catholic translation with a similar title) is a Hebrew/English Tanakh by Koren Publishers Jerusalem. The Koren Bible was the first Bible published in modern Israel,[16] distinguished for its accuracy and beauty, and one of the most widely distributed Hebrew editions ever published.[this quote needs a citation] The English translation in The Koren Jerusalem Bible, which is Koren's Hebrew/English edition, is by Professor Harold Fisch, a Biblical and literary scholar, and is based on Friedländer's 1881 Jewish Family Bible, but it has been "thoroughly corrected, modernized, and revised".[17]

The Koren Jerusalem Bible incorporates some unique features:

  • The paragraphing of the English translation parallels the division of the parashot in the Hebrew version on the facing page. Chapter and verse numbers are noted only in the margin (as in the Hebrew version).
  • The names of people and places in the translation are transliterations of the Hebrew names, as opposed to the Hellenized versions used in most translations. For example, the Hebrew name Moshe is used instead of the more familiar Moses.[18]
  • It uses Koren Type, created by typographer Eliyahu Koren specifically for The Koren Bible, and is a most accurate and legible Hebrew type.

The Koren Jerusalem Bible is sometimes referred to as The Jerusalem Bible, Koren Bible, the Koren Tanakh, or Tanakh Yerushalayim (Hebrew for Jerusalem Bible).

Living Torah and Nach[edit]

Perhaps the first Orthodox translation into contemporary English was The Living Torah by Aryeh Kaplan which was published in 1981 by Moznaim Publishing. After Kaplan's death in 1983, The Living Nach was translated in the same style by various authors.[19]The Living Torah is available online.

Kaplan's translation is influenced by traditional rabbinic interpretation and religious law, an approach followed by many later Orthodox translators. It also reflects Kaplan's interest in Jewish mysticism.[9]

The Living Torah is also notable for its use of contemporary, colloquial English. For example, it reverses the usual distinction between "God" and "Lord", noting that in modern English "God" is more appropriate for a proper name. One writer cites these examples, emphasizing Kaplan's modern translation:[9]

  • Shemot (Exodus) 20:8–10 — Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. You can work during the six weekdays and do all your tasks. But Saturday is the Sabbath to God your Lord.
  • Vayikra (Leviticus) 18:7 — Do not commit a sexual offense against your father or mother. If a woman is your mother, you must not commit incest with her.
  • Vayikra 19:14 — Do not place a stumbling block before the [morally] blind.
  • Vayikra 19:29 — Do not defile your daughter with premarital sex.

Judaica Press[edit]

Judaica Press, an Orthodox Jewish publisher, has published a multi-volume English translation.

The Judaica Press Complete Tanach with Rashi is a bilingual Hebrew–English translation of the Bible that includes Rashi's commentary in both Hebrew and English. The English translations were made by A. J. Rosenberg.[20] The Complete Tanach with Rashi is available online.[21]

Although the Pentateuch has not been fully published in hardcopy (Genesis [in three volumes] and Exodus [in two volumes] only), Judaica Press also published a set of 24 bilingual Hebrew–English volumes of Mikraot Gedolot for Nevi'im and Ketuvim, published as Books of the Prophets and Writings. As in traditional Mikraot Gedolot, the Hebrew text includes the masoretic text, the AramaicTargum, and several classic rabbinic commentaries. The English translations, by Rosenberg, include a translation of the Biblical text, Rashi's commentary, and a summary of rabbinic and modern commentaries.[22]

Judaica Press has also published other English translations and translations of other commentaries, most notably Samson Raphael Hirsch's German translation and commentary.

ArtScroll Tanach series[edit]

In 1976 Mesorah Publications, an Orthodox publisher, began publishing a series of bilingual Hebrew–English books of the Bible under its ArtScroll imprint. The ArtScroll Tanach series includes introductions to each book and a running commentary based on classic rabbinic interpretation.[23]

The Torah volumes were collected, revised, and published in a lone Hebrew–English bilingual volume as the Stone Edition of the Chumash (1993) with a short commentary in English. This Chumash also includes haftarot, Targum, and Rashi. The whole Tanach was published as the Stone Edition of the Tanach (1996).

The English translation in the ArtScroll series relies heavily on the interpretation of Rashi and other traditional sources and religious law. Some critics have said that this approach sometimes results in an English rendering that is as much an explanation as it is a translation.[9][23] In this regard, one critic likened the ArtScroll volumes to "non-literal" targumim, which interpreted as well as translated the Bible.[23]

One distinctive feature of the ArtScroll series is the way in which it renders the four-letter name of God, יהוה‬. Most English translations represent this name by the phrase "the Lord"; ArtScroll uses the Hebrew word "Ha-Shem" instead. Ha-Shem, literally "the Name", is an expression often used by Orthodox Jews to refer to God.[9]

The ArtScroll series has become very popular in the Orthodox Jewish community and is in use among non-Orthodox Jews as well.[9]

Torah translations[edit]

Because the Torah is read in a yearly cycle in the synagogue, there are many Jewish translations of the Torah only (without Nevi'im and Ketuvim). Such a translation is sometimes called a chumash, particularly when it is published in a bilingual Hebrew–English edition.

Everett Fox[edit]

Everett Fox translated the Torah (The Five Books of Moses, 1995) for Schocken Press. Fox's approach to translation was inspired by the German translation prepared by Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig, and he describes his work as an "offshoot" of theirs. His translation was also guided by the principle that the Bible "was meant to be read aloud". Fox's translation is printed in blank verse, and the personal and place names are transliterated versions of the Hebrew names.[24]

Writer John Updike cited some of these qualities as faults in Fox's translation, describing Fox as "an extremist after Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig" who "liberally coins compound adjectives like 'heavy-with-stubbornness' and verbs like 'adulter'" and noted that Fox renders the seventh commandment as "You are not to adulter".[25]

Another reviewer, echoing Updike's comments, wrote that "Fox's use of hyphenated phrases seems to be [modeled] after the German habit of compounding nonce words, a device used frequently by Buber and Rosenzweig in their German translation. The results seem less [strange] in German than in English, and it may be questioned whether such 'strangified' English gives the reader a true impression of what in Hebrew is really quite ordinary."[26]

Chaim Miller[edit]

Chaim Miller's chumash is a translation whose text incorporates Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson's "novel interpretation" of Rashi's commentary, which was delivered in a series of public talks that began in 1964 and continued for more than 25 years.[27] The translation, which was sponsored by Meyer Gutnick and is called "The Gutnick Edition Chumash", is published in a bilingual Hebrew–English edition that includes a running commentary anthologized from classic rabbinic texts. It also includes the haftarot, mystical insights called "Sparks of Chassidus", a summary of the mitzvot found in each parashah according to Sefer ha-Chinuch, an essay on public reading of the Torah, and summary charts.[28]

According to Miller's foreword, unlike most other translations, the Gutnick edition does not intersperse transliterations among the translations; this is intended to make the text more reader-friendly. However, the translation does includes Rashi’s commentary in parentheses, and the foreword explains that these are Rashi’s words and not a translation of the chumash.[29]

The publication of the 5-volume series by Kol Menachem, Gutnick's publishing company, was completed in 2006.

Robert Alter[edit]

In 2004 Robert Alter translated the Torah with his own commentary. The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary. Alter aimed to reproduce in his translation the "slight strangeness", "beautiful rhythms", and "magic of biblical style" of the original Hebrew that he felt had been "neglected by English translators".[30]

One way in which Alter tried to accomplish this was by using the same English equivalent in almost every instance that a Hebrew word appears in the Torah. As one reviewer noted, "if a Hebrew adjective is translated as 'beautiful,' it won't next be rendered as 'pretty' or 'attractive.' This is important because it allows the reader to detect narrative and imagistic patterns that would otherwise go unnoticed".[31]

Reviewer John Updike noted Alter also "keep[s] the ubiquitous sentence-beginning 'and,' derived from the Hebrew particle waw; he retains emphatic repetitions, as in 'she, she, too' and 'this red red stuff.'"[25]

Richard Elliott Friedman[edit]

In 2001 Richard Elliott Friedman released his Commentary on the Torah, featuring a new translation intended to "reflect more closely the words of the Hebrew" rather than "the translators' judgments of what the original Hebrew says." [32]

Partial translations[edit]

Translations of individual books of the Bible[edit]

Menachem Mendel Kasher[edit]

In 1951, Menachem Mendel Kasher translated the book of Genesis and his commentary, Torah SheBaal Peh.

Everett Fox[edit]

In addition to his translation of the Torah, Fox has translated the books of Samuel (Give Us a King!, 1999), and subsequently all of the Early Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, 2014).

Robert Alter[edit]

In addition to translating the Torah, Alter has translated I and II Samuel (The David Story, 2000); the Book of Psalms (The Book of Psalms, 2007); Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes (The Wisdom Books, 2010); Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings (Ancient Israel: The Former Prophets, 2013) and Song Of Songs, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Daniel (Strong As Death Is Love, 2015).

Kehot Publication Society[edit]

Kehot Publication Society has started a translation of the Torah, and as of March 2007 has completed the books of Shemot (Exodus) and Bamidbar (Numbers). The volumes, titled Torah Chumash Shemos and Torah Chumash Bemidbar, are bilingual Hebrew–English translations that include a running commentary based on Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson's interpretation of Rashi's commentary. The project is supervised by editor-in-chief Moshe Wisnefsky.

Incomplete translations[edit]

David Rosenberg[edit]

In 1977, David Rosenberg, a poet, former editor-in-chief of the Jewish Publication Society, and Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at Princeton University, translated the book of Job and released the resulting volume as Job Speaks. It was preceded by his translation of psalms, "Blues of The Sky" (Harper) and followed by "Lightworks: The Book of Isaiah". Later, he translated parts of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy that were deemed to have been written by the Documentary hypothesis J writer, also known as the Yahwist, author of the Bible's oldest strand, and released this volume as The Book of J in 1990, with commentary by American literary critic Harold Bloom. This book sold very well, and in its wake Rosenberg published A Poet's Bible, a poetic translation of several books of the Old Testament and its related apocrypha, in 1991, which won the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Prize for 1992, the first American translation of the Bible to ever win a major literary award. It was followed by "The Lost Book of Paradise: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a translation of various Edenic texts, including Song of Songs, Genesis and apocrypha, in 1993, and "The Book of David," a poetic interpretation of 2nd Samuel and the original author.

Currently, Rosenberg is working on A Literary Bible: An Original Translation, slated for November 1, 2009, release.[33] This is a secular, poetic version of the Jewish scriptures, presumably including portions of Rosenberg's earlier translations. It has since been published and widely reviewed in literary journals, including The New York Times Book Review by Frank Kermode and TLS in London.

The Bible Unauthorized[edit]

In 1942 A. H. Moose published a volume titled The Bible Unauthorized that included a translation of the first few chapters of Bereshit (Genesis) and a "treatise" that "proved" the existence of God, the Biblical account of creation, and other parts of the Bible. Moose claimed that "the real content of the Bible differs greatly from the many erroneous translations" that preceded his, and that his was "likely the first accurate translation".[34]

According to the correspondence of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn Moose was the pseudonym of Rabbi Aaron Hirsh Levitt, who had worked with Schneersohn.[35][36]

The Bible Unauthorized has been reprinted several times, most recently as In the Beginning: The Bible Unauthorized (Thirty Seven Books, 2001).

See also[edit]

Bible in the Jewish Tradition:

Other translations:


  1. ^For basic information regarding the masoretic text as the Jewish canon and text of the bible, see the concise Britannica article.
  2. ^The motivation for specifically Jewish versions in English is summed up in the Britannica as follows: "Though Jews in English-speaking lands generally utilized the King James Version and the Revised Version, the English versions have presented great difficulties. They contain departures from the traditional Hebrew text; they sometimes embody Christological interpretations; the headings were often doctrinally objectionable..."; see "Jewish versions".
  3. ^"The repeated efforts by Jews in the field of biblical translation show their sentiment toward translations prepared by other denominations. The dominant feature of this sentiment, apart from the thought that the Christological interpretations in non-Jewish translations are out of place in a Jewish Bible, is and was that the Jew cannot afford to have his Bible translation prepared for him by others." "Preface" to the 1917 JPS Translation
  4. ^The books of the apocrypha became part of the Greek scriptures of Hellenistic Jews (the Septuagint) and eventually of the Church, but were not included in the Hebrew proto-masoretic tradition of the Pharisees and the early rabbis. With some minor exceptions, these books were not preserved at all in the Jewish tradition, and their survival is due to their preservation by the Church. The classic scholarly study of Jewish canon as reflected in the Jewish sources, focusing on the background for the selection of books found in the masoretic tradition, is Sid Z. Leiman, The Canonization of Hebrew Scripture: The Talmudic and Midrashic Evidence, 2nd edition. New Haven, CT, Memoirs of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1991. An online summary of some of Leiman's findings appears online here.
  5. ^ abFor a discussion of the Hebrew text's centrality in Judaism (of all denominations) and thus the popularity of bilingual versions in public worship, versus the centrality of translations in Christianity, see Why are Christians satisfied with English-only Bibles? and responses to it: Christianity is cross-cultural and cross-linguistic and Parallel Bibles: S. Bagster & Sons'.
  6. ^Jewish Publication Society
  7. ^Full scans of Leeser's Hebrew-English edition of the Torah and haftarot, his Hebrew edition of the masoretic Bible (1848), and numerous original editions and reprints of his translation of the entire Tanakh into English can all be found here.
  8. ^ ab"Preface" to the 1917 JPS Translation
  9. ^ abcdefLeonard J. Greenspoon, "Jewish Translations of the Bible" in The Jewish Study Bible, Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, eds. Oxford University Press, 2004.
  10. ^The four original volumes can be found here. Also see "Abraham Benisch" in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
  11. ^Greenspoon, Leonard J. 1988. A Book "Without Blemish": The Jewish Publication Society's Bible Translation of 1917. The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 79.1, pp. 2, 8.
  12. ^Greenspoon, Leonard J. 1988. A Book "Without Blemish": The Jewish Publication Society's Bible Translation of 1917. The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 79.1, p. 11.
  13. ^Greenspoon, Leonard J. 1988. A Book "Without Blemish": The Jewish Publication Society's Bible Translation of 1917. The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 79.1, pp. 2.
  14. ^Jewish Publication Society (1985). "Preface". Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society. 
  15. ^ abJoseph Gaer, "The Bible: Our Inheritance", The Jewish Bible for Family Reading, Thomas Yoseloff, 1957.
  16. ^and the first Hebrew Bible designed, edited, printed, and bound by Jews in nearly 500 years. As recorded in the inner title page of each edition, followed by mention of the announcement by Knesset Speaker Kadish Luz (1965) that "all Presidents of the State of Israel will hereafter be sworn into office on this Bible" (the Koren edition).
  17. ^Jerusalem Bible (Koren)
  18. ^Koren Publishing
  19. ^Ari Mark Cartun, An Annotated Bibliography of Translations and Commentaries on the Torah and Bible, Congregation Etz Chayim, 2006
  20. ^Judaica Press Tanach with Rashi
  21. ^"The Complete Tanach with Rashi's Commentary". Chabad.org. Judaica Press. 
  22. ^Judaica Press Prophets & Writings
  23. ^ abcB. Barry Levy, "Our Torah, Your Torah, and Their Torah: An Evaluation of the ArtScroll Phenomenon" in Truth and Compassion: Essays on Religion in Judaism, Howard Joseph, Jack N. Lightstone, and Michael D. Oppenheim, eds. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1983.
  24. ^Everett Fox, "Translator's Preface", The Five Books of Moses, Schocken, 1995.
  25. ^ abJohn Updike, "The Great I AM: Robert Alter’s new translation of the Pentateuch", The New Yorker, November 1, 2004. Accessed via Archived September 6, 2006, at the Wayback Machine..
  26. ^Michael D. Marlowe, "The Five Books of Moses: A New Translation by Everett Fox", Bible Research, September 2002.
  27. ^Chaim Miller, Rashi's Method of Biblical Commentary, Chabad.org
  28. ^Gutnick Edition Chumash, World Jewish News Agency.
  29. ^Jewish Press review of The Gutnick Edition Chumash
  30. ^Robert Alter, "The Bible in English and the Heresy of Explanation", The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary, W. W. Norton, 2004.
  31. ^Michael Dirda, "The Five Books of Moses", The Washington Post, October 24, 2004.
  32. ^Richard Elliott Friedman, "Commentary on the Torah", Harper San Francisco, 2001
  33. ^https://www.amazon.com/dp/1582435146
  34. ^A. H. Moose, The Bible Unauthorized, Rainbow Publishing, 1942. Portions of the book are available online at Judaism.com and Judaism Online.
  35. ^Yosef Rubin, The Wheel, Meaningful Life Center.
  36. ^In the Beginning: The Bible Unauthorized, Amazon.com

Further reading[edit]

  • Leonard J. Greenspoon, "The Birth of a Bible", The Clouds, No. 10, Summer 2002.
  • Leonard J. Greenspoon, "Jewish Translations of the Bible" in The Jewish Study Bible, Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, eds. Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • B. Barry Levy, "Our Torah, Your Torah, and Their Torah: An Evaluation of the ArtScroll Phenomenon" in Truth and Compassion: Essays on Religion in Judaism, Howard Joseph, Jack N. Lightstone, and Michael D. Oppenheim, eds. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1983.
  • Max L. Margolis, The Story of Bible Translations, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1917.
  • Jonathan Sarna, "The Jewish Translation That Rewrote the Bible", The Forward, January 27, 2013.

External links[edit]

The 1917 JPS translation.
The bilingual Hebrew–English edition of the New JPS translation.


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