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The Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (The Schocken Bible, Volume 1) Paperback – February 8, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Based on the Buber-Rosenzweig translation of the Hebrew Bible, completed in 1960, Fox's new rendering of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy is a breathtaking translation that captures the beautiful, majestic, and dynamic character of biblical Hebrew. In his translation, Fox (Jewish studies, Clark Univ.) lovingly caresses the language of the Bible so that readers may listen to it as it was heard and read by its earliest Jewish audience. Listen, for example, to his rendering of Exodus 3:14, the encounter between God and Moses: "God said to Moshe:/Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh/I will be-there howsoever I will be there." Fox provides keen and insightful notes and commentary, and the introductions to each book are crisp and fresh. The Five Books of Moses demonstrates the living character of scripture in the modern world. An essential purchase for all libraries.
Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Westerville P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A binding religious text, a historical document of the first importance, and a work of great literary imagination." --Edward Hirsch, New York Times Book Review

"Fox's translation has the rare virtue of making constantly visible in English the Hebraic quality of the original, challenging preconceptions of what the Bible is really like. A bracing protest against the bland modernity of all the recent English versions of the Bible." --Robert Alter, professor of comparative literature, University of California, Berkeley

"No serious Bible reader--whether Jewish, Christian, or secular--can afford to ignore this volume." --Jon D. Levenson, Harvard Divinity School
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Product Details

  • Series: Schocken Bible (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (February 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805211195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805211191
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 2 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amitai Adler on November 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
Everett Fox's translation of the Torah is plain and simple the finest translation from Hebrew I have ever seen. None of the other notable English translations, from the JPS Tanakh to the excellent Bloch translation of Song of Songs even comes close to the power and faithfulness of Fox's Five Books of Moses. He comes as close as is linguistically possible to capturing the rhythm, nuance, and grace of the Hebrew original as is possible in another langage. Furthermore, when he knows that pure translation will be insufficient to capture a play on words-- how many native English readers even know the Bible is full of plays on words?-- he provides transliterations of the relevant Hebrew phrases as well, so the device becomes apparent.

Some have complained that in forcing the English language to follow the patterns of a different grammatical system-- to say nothing of worldview-- he has twisted even poetic English beyond recognition. But not only is this text highly readable poetry, it reinforces with every word the nearly-always neglected fact that the Tanakh (the "Old Testament") was not written in English, or Latin, or Greek, and represents a vastly different set of literary (and religious) endeavors than the Christian scriptures. It forcefully gives the reader a much-needed reminder that this is not the book you think it is.

Most translations, in smoothing the text out into English prose and poetry, either sacrifice accuracy (e.g. the King James), or sacrifice the poetry (e.g. the JPS, which contains some of the least poetic poetry I can think of), resulting in an anemic set of verses bearing little resemblence to the wild, vibrant song of the Hebrew original. Fox's unique word-flow unpacks the dense Hebrew into a torrent of breathtaking imagery (e.g.
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Format: Paperback
Schocken Press has undertaken an ambitious project, to retranslate the Bible into modern language capturing the sound and quality of idiom of the original languages as much as possible. The first volume of this project is available in The Five Books of Moses, Shocken Bible: Volume I, translated and with commentary by Everett Fox.
'Based upon principles developed by Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig, this new English translation restores the poetics of the Hebrew original--the echoes, allusions, alliterations, and word-plays that rhetorically underscore its meaning and are intrinsic to a text meant to be read aloud and heard.' The underlying premise of most translations of the Bible have been to clarify the meaning of the text. While this is certainly not overlooked here, it can be the case that in the pursuit of textual clarity, the ability to make it audibly intelligible gets lost -- a lot of passages from the New Revised Standard Version, for instance, are so precise in construction that they defy oral expression.
Fox says in his Translator's Preface: 'I have presented the text in English dress but with a Hebraic voice.' Careful attention has been given to rhythm and sound. Too many English translations overlook the auditory quality of the words, and while striving to capture the idea of the text, they miss the crucial 'hearing cues' that an oral rendering would give the listener.
To this end, the text is printed as if it were in blank verse (save where a poetic style was already present and could be carried forward). Proper nouns (the names of persons and places) retain their Hebraic forms; odd, though, that the title of the book is The Five Books of Moses rather than The Five Books of Moshe. Also, a principle of the 'leading-word' is employed here.
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Format: Paperback
While this is the most authentic and poetic translation of the Torah, the five books of the Bible that Jews hold as sacred but Christians & Muslims see as a lot of rules and stories that served as the basis for their guy, it can be read by anyone.
Everett Fox does an amazing job of capturing the Hebrew syntax and poetry down to repeating words which are repeated in the context and bring more insights than many translations which gloss over the word plays.(like the fact that Moses' "basket" and Noah's "ark" is the same word. Or that it is the REED sea not the red sea.)
But the most important part of this book is the fact that it makes the "boring" parts of the Bible exciting and vibrant. You will never badmouth Leviticus, Numbers or Deuteronomy again after you read this translation. Trust me.
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How many people have actually read the bible? While many describe this text as the most important work of western civilization, too many people find it both impenetrable and poorly written. That is not the fault of the actual text; indeed the Hebrew poetry of the bible is among some of the best ever written. The problem lies instead in the translation. Myriad efforts at popular translations have been made, from putting the bible into common English to straight line-by-line English. While these methods render the text more easily read, they also cost it the poetic language and much of its drama.
Everett Fox has solved these problems with a translation that is nothing short of masterful. The language is lucid, the prose poetic, and the story intact. Moreover, Fox is an honest translator, detailing his decisions and pointing out where multiple meaning exist. I have read literally dozens of translations of the bible. In my opinion, this is far and away the best.
Fox's contribution to the text will surely be remember and appreciated both now and for decades to come.
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