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Forthcoming books: Jefferson Bible, English Onkelos completed, Sweeney’s survey, Torah MiEtzion anthology, Zondervan 2nd edition interlinear Bible, new Matt Zohar volume

September 21, 2011

Here are some interesting-looking new books appearing in the next 90 days:

  • JeffersonBibleThe Smithsonian edition of the Jefferson Bible, which promises to be definitive, is appearing in conjunction with the forthcoming Smithsonian exhibition of the newly restored Jefferson Bible.Jefferson formed his own gospel by assembling excerpts from texts in four languages (English, French, Latin, Greek) and combining moral teachings while omitting supernatural events.  We are promised an edition that for the first time will be a full-color facsimile and will include the full contents – including all of the material in French, Latin, and Greek, as well as Jefferson’s own handwritten notes.

    Current Amazon price:  $21.94

  • The final volume (Deuteronomy-Devarim) in the Drazin-Wagner (English translation of ) “Onkelos on the Torah” series is finally appearing.  Onkelos is the main Aramaic translation of the Torah (c. 110 CE), and is i77579.07604in many places is a paraphrase rather than a translation.  Because of its interpretative nature, Onkelos was heavily used by medieval Bible commentators (notably Rashi) and a Jewish tradition exists of reading the portion of the week “twice in Hebrew and once from Onkelos.”  However, in the current age, Hebrew is better known than Aramaic.  This edition is aimed at the English language reader (who perhaps has some Hebrew and some Aramaic).  Each double page includes Onkelos, the original Masoretic text, and Rashi all in original (vowelized)  languages, with English including a translation of Onkelos (marked in two type styles to indicate portions where Onkelos deviates from the Masoretic text) and an extensive commentary, largely drawn from medieval Jewish commentators.  The haftarah prophetic passages read during synagogue services are included with “an English translation from the Aramaic Targumim”, and a number of extra materials for understanding the text are included. The earlier volumes in this series were by far the most detailed English translation of Onkelos that I am aware of, and this volume looks to be similarly detailed.

    Current Amazon price:  $35.00

  • sweeneyMarvin Sweeney (Claremont Graduate University) survey of the Hebrew Bible is appearing (perhaps competing against James Kugel and Marc Brettler’s similar volumes – both entitled “How to Read the Bible”).  Sweeney’s book is to be published by Fortress and is to be 464 pages.  I don’t have an inside information on this volume, so I’ll just quote the publisher’s blurb:  “Though ‘biblical theology’ has long been considered a strictly Christian enterprise, Marvin A. Sweeney here proposes a Jewish theology of the Hebrew Bible, based on the importance of Tanak as the foundation of Judaism and organized around the major components: Torah, Nevi’im (Prophets), and Kethuvim (Writings). Sweeney finds the structuring themes of Jewish life: the constitution of the nation Israel in relation to God; the disruption of that ideal, documented by the Prophets; and the reconstitution of the nation around the Second Temple in the Writings. Throughout he is attentive to tensions within and among the texts and the dialogical character of Israel’s sacred heritage.”  Sweeney’s book is entitled:  Tanak:  A Theological and Critical Introduction to the Jewish Bible. 

    Current Amazon price:  $37.17

  • torahmietzionYeshivat Har Etzion (YHE) is one of the most exciting religious schools in Israel, with many programs for study including its Virtual Beit Midrash and KMTT podcast.  Its Wikipedia page(which perhaps was edited by one of its supporters) claims it is “one of the most selective and advanced Yeshivot [religious schools] in the world”  Certainly it has a number of leading (traditional Jewish) religious scholars, who also interact to some degree with modern Biblical scholarship.  It has just launched a new series, and a volume of essays on Genesis is forthcoming.  According to the blurb, the essays are written by “Aharon Lichtenstein, Menachem Leibtag, Chanoch Waxman, Yoel Bin-Nun, Elchanan Samet, Yonatan Grossman, Yaakov Medan and other leading scholars.”  If this is of the same high quality as YHE’s other English materials, this book should be a treat.

    Current Amazon price:  $19.77

  • mounceA stunning translation of the last decade is Robert Mounce’s interlinear translation of the New Testament.  This is a tour de force, since it largely follows Greek word order in English.  Zondervan published this version in three editions – each containing pages laid out in three columns – the large central column containing an interlinear format with Zondervan’s edition of the Greek text, Mounce’s translation, along with Greek word parsing information and GK numbers.  The side two translations contained standard English translations – the three published versions were the KJV/NIV, the TNIV/NLT, and the NASB/NIV.  The side columns were largely superfluous (especially in the case of the KJV, which uses a much different base Greek text, and the NLT, which is tends towards paraphrase rather than formal equivalence.)Apparently the NASB/NIV edition was the big seller, because Zondervan is re-releasing it in a new edition with the updated NIV2011 translation.  But I think the purchase is worth it just to enjoy Robert Mounce’s amazing translation.  (One odd point, Zondervan promotes this book by including a bio of Mounce that claims “he was involved in the translation of the NIV, NLT, NIrV, and especially the ESV.”  Why would Zondervan promote a translation of one of its competitors).

    Current Amazon price:  $33.94

  • mattOne of the most amazing translations projects going on is Daniel Matt’s (disclaimer:  I am an acquaintance) ongoing ten volume translation of the Zohar.  Matt’s translation is fully annotated, but it also aims to preserve the poetry in the Zohar.  If you want to get an idea of what his translation is like, here are some sample pages.  Also, Matt’s project is far more inclusive than it might at first seem, since he has been establishing a critical Aramaic text for his translation.  He and his publisher (Stanford University Press) have been web-publishing the critical Aramaic text (free for download), and the text (established to date) is available here.  Volume Six of his translation is due in October.

    Current Amazon price:  $33.61

  • For other interesting-looking future publications, see also this post on The Jewish Annotated New Testament and this post on the Norton Critical edition of the English Bible.

Now, I think I am going to spend some of my day reading the books that I already have, so I’ll be ready when these books come out.


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