The number of Study Bibles available on the market today is breathtaking. There seems to be a Study Bible themed for almost any occasion or reason one could imagine. In recent years, several major Study Bible projects surfaced and released with mixed reception. One of the latest additions to this Study Bible market, and one that promises a wealth of useful insight into the Scriptures is the newly published The Complete Jewish Study Bible (CJSB).
The CJSB is a unique Study Bible experience that seeks to submerge the reader into the Jewishness of both Testaments through fresh and relevant study notes and articles selected to accomplish this mission. The CJSB is based on the widely used Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) by David A. Stern. Those familiar with the CJB will know what to expect. Stern has translated the Bible with a particular sensitivity to the Jewish tradition and thus has retained Jewish names and words with theological significance. For example, the reader will discover thousands of occurrences in both the Old and New Testament of Adonai where the Hebrew and Greek would not warrant such translation, but the Hebraic tradition would (xlii-xliii). Readers will surely have a personal preference and opinion towards this decision and others like it, and further comment is beyond the scope of this review.
The CJSB prepares the reader for “extensive bottom-of-page study notes to help readers understand the deeper meanings behind the Jewish text” (xix). However, for most readers (and especially those familiar with other Study Bibles on the market) this statement will over promise and under deliver. Many pages lack any presence of study notes. The notes are certainly helpful and useful for understanding the deeper meaning of the text, but they are not “extensive” by any meaningful definition of the word. I do not say this to discourage the reader away from the benefit of the CJSB, but rather to prepare them for the content therein. Still, the benefit of the CJSB is found in the numerous, and I mean numerous topical and themed articles. The topical articles cover a wide range of topics in both the Old Testament and the New, including the nature of covenant, millennialism and the future Israel, Satan in Jewish thought, a Jewish understanding of Hell, and much, much more. The themed articles are abundant and sorted under twelve major themes: (1) anti-Jewish scriptural interpretation, (2) covenants, (3) Jewish customs, (4) Jewish-Gentile relations, (5) messianic prophecy, (6) the names of God, (7) Sabbath, (8) salvation and atonement, (9) the holy days of Israel, (10) the land of Israel, (11) Torah, and (12) the tabernacle. The CJSB opens with a lengthy introduction the CJB and closes with a number of appendix material (e.g. glossary of Hebrew words, topical and theme article index, biographies of rabbis and sages, etc.) and eight full-color maps.
The CJSB is a unique Study Bible and a valuable investment for anyone interested in better understanding the Jewishness of the Old and New Testament. The articles are useful and many, and the CJB is an excellent supplemental translation to your Bible of choice. However, while I was honestly pleased by content that the CJSB offered, for some reason, I continued to feel as though something was missing. It could be the lack of “extensive” notes that I was anticipating or that they were paired with the CJB—a supplemental translation choice, in my honest opinion. Despite this, I was surprised at how often I was reaching for the CJSB to see what the contributors had to say about a passage or topic and I was pleased by the content and number of articles.
The Complete Jewish Study Bible is a welcomed addition to the Study Bible market. The CJSB offers an unparalleled experience that will truly enrich the reader’s understanding of the Scriptures. If anything, I think that it is safe to assume that the CJSB will provide another perspective for the reader to weigh as they seek to resemble and serve Jesus in the twenty-first century. I said it before, and I will say it again, the CJSB is a unique Study Bible and a valuable investment for anyone interested in better understanding the Jewishness of the Old and New Testament. It deserves a place on the shelf of every Christian!
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.