Page 160 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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At the time that I wrote that earlier essay I did not realize it
would serve as the launching pad for an entire book about Jewish
reading that I edited in the early 1990s,
The Schocken Guide toJewish
For that volume I asked a group of outstanding scholars to
write chapter-length essays that would guide the non-specialist
reader through a variety of subject areas. With subjects ranging
from the Bible to Yiddish literature, from Jewish mysticism to Zi­
onism, feminism, and modern Jewish history, the
offers lay
readers the most comprehensive roadmap to reading Jewish books
currendy available. It’s a good place to go for moving beyond the
few tides I recommended in
my Jewish BookAnnual
Let me single out a few tides of books published in the past ten
years. I limit myself here to the subjects covered in the original es­
The Bible continues to be a source of endless fascination, for
Jews and non-Jews alike. The past ten years have given us new
translations and new commentaries. The two most noteworthy
have been the publication of the JPS Torah commentary, a multi­
volume set done by outstanding Biblical scholars, Nahum Sarna,
Jacob Milgrom, Baruch Levine, and Jeffrey Tigay. For the best
summary of contemporary Jewish academic scholarship on the Bi­
ble—particularly scholarship with a philological and historical ori­
entation, the JPS commentary is the set to have.
In my earlier essay I mentioned Everett Fox’s remarkable trans­
lation of the Torah, of which only the first two volumes had ap­
peared at the time. Now the Fox translation and commentary has
been completed and published as
The Five Books ofMoses
en) with great and well-deserved fanfare. It is a unique and power­
ful piece of work, as close to the Hebrew original as one can find
in English. Other Biblical commentaries have also appeared in
these years, some of the most notable done by women: Aviva Zorn-
Genesis: The Beginning ofDesire
(JPS) and the anthology of
commentaries on the Book of Ruth edited byJudith Kates and Gail
Twersky Reimer,
Reading Ruth
(Ballantine Books).
For those interested in the history and world of the Bible, the
saga surrounding the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls is a fasci­
nating tale. For both the significance of the Scrolls and the story of