The Orthodox Jewish Bible
Review by Jim Melnick
President, Friends of Russian Jewry, Inc.
The Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB) was published in 2002 by Artists for Israel International (Dr. Phillip E. Goble), combining both the Tanakh and the Orthodox Jewish Brit Chadasha. The Brit Chadasha was first published separately in 1996. With the publication of the OJB, we now have the entire Scriptures. It is written in English with key terms in transliterated Hebrew within an Orthodox Jewish context. Its purpose is two-fold: evangelistic – reaching out to Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish communities around the world; and, for believers, providing fresh glimpses into the Word of God, especially in gaining a better understanding of the Jewish roots of our faith.
The OJB is a rich treasure, more than 1,200 pages in length. It represents both a scholarly and missionary-minded labor of love. Dr. Goble spent more than 30 years on this translation, while ministering and studying within Orthodox Jewish communities, “surrounded by scholarly and rabbinic books.” His scholarly analysis in the translator’s introduction on Isaiah 7:14 and Ha-Almah is brilliant and riveting. Read it at: www.afii.org/org/pgnote.html
Here are a few more wonderful samples: Isaiah 11:9: “…for ha’aretz shall be full of the da’as Hashem, as the mayim cover the sea.” Many verses contain key cross-references. Isaiah 53:5 is one excellent example: “But he was pierced [Yeshayah 51:9; Zecharayah 12:10 Sukkah 52a, Tehillim 2:17 Targum Hashivim] for our transgressions, he was bruised mei’avonoteinu (for our iniquities); the musar (chastisement) (that brought us shalom [Yeshayah 54:10] was upon him [Moshiach] and at the cost of his (Moshiach’s) chaburah (stripes, lacerations) we are healed.” Or Zechariah 12:10: “And I will pour upon the Bais Dovid, and upon the inhabitants of Yerushalayim, the Ruach (Spirit) of Chen (grace) and of Tachanunim (supplications for favor) and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced [dakar,’ pierce through’ cf. Yeshayah 53:5; Targum HaShivim Tehillim 22:17] and they shall mourn for Him (Moshiach) as one mourneth for his yachid (only son), and shall grieve in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his bechor (firstborn).” (OJB)
The Hebrew/Yiddish/ English glossary alone is more than 65 pages in length, with entries such as: Mishkan Shemeca – “Dwelling Place of Thy Name” and Netzach Yisroel – “The Eternal One of Israel.”
Phil Goble has taken on a great burden with this effort. What is more fraught with greater criticism and potential pitfalls than Bible translation?! – we recall the ground-breaking efforts of Wycliffe and Tyndale, for example – but it is a burden that we as an evangelical community that loves the people of Israel should all share as we seek to bring the Good News of salvation back to the descendants of those who first preserved the Word of God for all of us. I am not a Biblical scholar and have not been able to read the translation from cover to cover. If there are any issues in how certain passages have been translated (none have leaped out at me so far), I urge others to join in a constructive dialogue. Perhaps a community of like-minded scholars can review and build upon the tremendous foundation that Phil has devoted so many years to developing. But, as he says in his introduction, the problem with committees “is that usually none of the committee members actually studies every single word in the original languages.”
The OJB was driven by a deep love for the Jewish people and by the burning hope that lies within us that the children of Israel may soon know the true Moshiach Who is the only hope of salvation (Romans 11:26). It is available online at: http://www.afii.org/ojbible.html (homepage: www.afii.org) or you may contact Phil by mail at: AFII (Artists for Israel International) Publishers, PO Box 2056, New York, NY 10163-2056 USA. I predict that The Orthodox Jewish Bible will become a key reference and have a tremendous impact worldwide on evangelical outreach to Orthodox Jewry.