Page 152 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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Holtz
144
1977); David Sperling, “Israel’s Religion in the Ancient Near East”
in
Jewish Spirituality From the Bible Through theMiddleAges,
edited
by Arthur Green (Crossroad, 1986); and John Bright,
A History of
Israel
(Westminster, 1948).
It is hard to recommend particular biblical sources—obviously
the Bible is a vast work and much will depend on the inclination of
the individual reader. Of course the first five books of the Bible
(known as the Torah or Humash) is the starting place, their role in
Judaism being particularly important thanks in part to their litur­
gical role in the Sabbath service.
To that one could easily add the narratives of the Early Proph­
ets—Joshua, Judges, First and Second Samuel through the end of
Second Kings. People who come to these writings in adulthood are
often surprised to find how powerful, how novelistic in fact these
works can be, in particular the lengthy life story of King David.
TRANS LATI ONS AND COMMENTARIES
A good deal depends on the translation one uses. Far and away
the most accurate translation from the point of view of modern
scholarship is the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation
project initiated in the early 1960s and now complete and available
in one volume as
The Tanakh.
Of course many other translations
exist. One interesting version that may appeal to some readers is
Everett Fox’s translations of Genesis and Exodus—
In the Beginning
and
Now These are the Names
respectively, published by Schocken
Books. These works are an attempt to give the non-Hebrew reader
a sense of the particular nature of biblical language.
Of course many commentaries on individual works abound.
Some of these, such as the Anchor Bible series, may appear too ac­
ademic or technical for the non-specialist. Two commentaries of a
more popular sort—though written by an eminent scholar—are
Nahum Sarna’s
Understanding Genesis
(Schocken, 1970) and
Ex­
ploring Exodus
(Schocken, 1986).
A more general work is Robert Alter’s
TheArt ofBiblicalNarra­
tive
(Basic Books, 1981) which provides lively, beautifully written
essays exploring key biblical stories from a literary point of view.