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JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis Hardcover – August 1, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Hebrew
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 414 pages
  • Publisher: The Jewish Publication Society; 1st edition (August 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0827603266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0827603264
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 8.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 64 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is simply a magnificant work! This contains the complete Hebrew text of Genesis, the JPS's new English translation, and an extensive original commentary that illuminates the text like a 1000 watt searchlight. On average, each four or five lines of text gets a full page of explanation and commentary, so every subject gets covered in detail.
Sarna, like all the JPS Torah commentators, makes use of traditional rabbinic commentaries, and the Mishna, Midrash and Talmud. But it doesn't end here: The commentary goes on to make good use of literary analysis and comparative Semitics; intertextual commentary relating each book to other biblical books, and evidence from modern archaeological, discoveries.
It manages to be respectful, religious, and authentic to the Jewish tradition, while at the same time rigorously adhering to the highest standards of biblical criticism and intellectual honesty.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By alan goldstein on December 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I'm just a layperson but have read through several commentaries, The Stone Chumash, The Plaut Commentary, and parts of others, and the J.P.S. Nahum Sarna Genesis Commentary is my favorite. All the commentaries are wonderful to read, but I personally find Mr. Sarna's approach a nice balance of reverence and scholarhip. I find it a fascinating mix of historical information, interpretive possibilities, and theologic implications. (And I overspent for my copy, buying it in a bookstore).
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52 of 67 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is okay, a competent commentary on Genesis. My only two reservations concern the non-availability of a paperback version (a reasonable consideration if one wanted to buy the whole JPS series on a limited budget), and, perhaps more importantly, the relative lack of specifically Jewish perspective. I couldn't distinguish a lot of the comments from what you might find in more rigorous detail in the Anchor or Word commentaries (two scholarly Christian series with a tendancy to higherish criticism). This is particularly noticeable in the pre-Abrahamic section of the book where the commentary is influenced more by modern views on the relation of Genesis to Canaanite myth than by traditional reverence for the text. This is obviously a question of personal preference but I find myself making more use of, and getting more from, Hertz's Pentateuch and Haftorahs. There is not much here in Sarna's Genesis that is not also found in Ephraim Speiser's (Anchor) or George Wenham's (Word).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Nahum Sarna, the general editor of the JPS Commentary series, who passed away just recently, was one of the greatest biblical scholars of the twntieth century and the mentor of many other scholars. He had a keen mind, was extraordinarily friendly to everyone, and was greatly admired. It was a pleasure to talk and learn from him.

Sarna offers his readers a great deal of information in this volume. Besides commentaries on every verse which draws from close to a hundred ancient and modern sources, Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and non-religious, he introduces each section with a brief scholarly and interesting summary, over fifty in all. He also includes some three dozen excurses on such subjects as angeology, the meaning of the akeda, the moral issue of Jacob's behavior, and the name Israel.

Examples of his commentaries include comparing the opening of Genesis with the Mesopotamian Emuna Elish, which shows that the initial verse should be translated "When God began to create heaven and earth." The Hebrew word for "God," Elohim, is not a personal name, but a general Hebrew word for deity and can refer to pagan gods. God's first creation, light, serves as a symbol of life, joy, justice, and deliverance. This light, independant of the sun, became the subject of many rabbinic comments.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By hpc on July 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First rate commentary by an outstanding scholar. Excellent short introduction followed by Hebrew and English printed in parallel columns with phrase-by-phrase (sometimes word-by-word) commentary below. Includes glossary of common Hebrew terms for those who like me are not sure what Aggadah, Gemara etc mean. Also two maps, one a general overview of the ancient near east, the other a diagram of the patriarchs' journeys. There are 30 separate short articles at the end dealing with technical issues too lengthy to put into the main commentary.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Q. Kucera on July 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I first encountered this series in seminary (Presbyterian). I very much appreciate the layout: Hebrew text and English translation at the top (upper 1/4 to 1/3 of the page), with verse by verse commentary at the bottom of the page. Sarna includes several excursuses (excursi?) at the end of the volume. Sarna seems to employ the historical-critical method in his interpretation, while at the same time offering some speculative reflections upon the psychological states of the patriarchs and other figures of Genesis. As with any commentary, each reader will have to make his or her own decisions as to the helpfulness and insightfulness of the interpretation. I find many of the comments helpful. Coming at the text from a Christian perspective, I especially appreciate Sarna's Jewish perspective on the text. For readers not used to Hebrew, it may be helpful to note that the commentary, like the Hebrew Bible, reads from right to left ("backwards" for people used to reading left to right).
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