JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh

The New JPS translation is one of the most important English translations of the Hebrew Bible available today. This translation comes in several different editions. The most useful edition is called the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh.

The JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh has the JPS translation and the Hebrew text of the Bible (Tanakh) on the same page, facing one another. By placing the Hebrew and English side by side, the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh helps to make the Hebrew of the Bible more accessible to students.

If you are unfamiliar with this edition of the Bible, it is more than worth a look.

Background to the New JPS English Translation

The Jewish Publication Society published the New JPS Translation in 1985, replacing the outdated 1917 JPS translation. The 1917 JPS translation used a lot of older terms and phrases that are not commonly found in spoken English today. However, the New JPS translation is not based upon the old 1917 version, but is an entirely new translation of the Bible.

The New JPS Translation was translated from a modified form of BHS (BHS is based upon the Leningrad Codex, the oldest complete text of the Hebrew Bible still in existence). The editors of the New JPS Translation made sure that the best of modern biblical scholarship was brought to bear in translating the Hebrew Bible.

The New JPS Translation also tries to render the meaning of the Hebrew text into very readable English. Because of this, the JPS translation often shows a tendency to translate certain Hebrew phrases idiomatically, rather than literally.

The New JPS Translation is one of the best English translations of the Bible available today. It is also unique in that it is the most prominent English translation of the Bible edited and published by Jewish scholars.

Key Features of the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh

The most important feature of the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh is that it has Hebrew texts and their English translations facing one another on the same page. This two-column format is an immensely helpful feature for beginning and intermediate students of Hebrew Bible.

Unlike an interlinear bible, the JPS Hebrew-English formatting doesn’t break up the translation of the Hebrew text into particular words. Consequently, this formatting leads to a more fluid reading of the Hebrew text. Students will also find that they continue learning Hebrew as they switch back and forth between Hebrew and English.

The JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh can also be helpful as a quick reference tool for more advanced scholars.

Here are some of the other key features of the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh:

  • The JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh comes in different shapes and sizes. One of the most helpful editions is the pocket edition. Unlike most bibles, the pocket edition won’t break your back as you carry it (though it isn’t overly small – you need to have big pockets!). Even though digital copies of the Bible are nice, they still can’t replace having a real, physical bible.
  • Generally speaking, the Hebrew and English fonts of the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh are very easy to read. Of course, the fonts for the pocket version can be a bit tiny, but then, you don’t have to carry as much paper either. Some people prefer a larger edition for study at home.
  • The Hebrew text has the full accent marks of the Masoretic text. These accent marks can be very helpful in a number of ways. The marks tell you the stress of every word and how the Masoretes understood each verse’s syntax. They can show you how to properly read a text, and even how to chant biblical texts (according to Jewish tradition).
  • Most editions have helpful notes that will aid you in your reading of the biblical text.

Final Verdict

The JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh is a very helpful tool for students and scholars. The presentation of Hebrew text and English translations side by side allows students to better understand the biblical text. Students will benefit from an excellent English translation of the text as well.

Make sure you get the Hebrew-English edition (there are some editions which only have the English)

Information about purchasing A Reader’s Hebrew Bible can be found by clicking on the image below:

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