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Biblical Interpretation Resource Guide

Print and online resources for biblical interpretation, study, and research

While every Bible produced or translated by Christian authorities will include the Hebrew Bible (commonly called the Old Testament), there are a number of translations and commentaries that have emerged out of the Jewish tradition. This page is offered to introduce readers unfamliar with Jewish resources to these texts and traditions.

It is important to realize that while different translations are considered authoritative for different Jewish communities, the translation primarily serves as an interpretation and entry to the Hebrew text. While the JPS Tanakh translation is commonly used, different resources may depart from the translation or offer differente translations entirely. 

Note: texts from the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) are divided into categories called parashah (plural parashot or parashiyot). Each section has its own name, taken from the first Hebrew word of the portion. (For example, Gen. 6.9–11:32 is in the parashah called “Noah”.) If you are looking for a Jewish commentary on a Biblical text, these will commonly be divided according to parashot. You can find a breakdown of these readings online or in the back of the Jewish Study Bible (pages 2231–2233.) [ read more about the weekly parashot ]

Translation & Commentary

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a brief glossary of terms likely to be unfamiliar to a Christian audience, and useful for navigating this site. Terms within definitions that are in bold are identified sepately within the glossary.

Haftarah: the prophetic readings which are accompany Torah readings in the Sabbath or in festival services.

Humash (Chumash): the printed Torah used in a synagogue, as opposed to the Torah scroll (which is called the Sefer Torah).

Kethuvim: Writings, includings history (e.g., Chronicles), prayer, and the Wisdom literature.

Nevi'im: the Prophets.

Parashah (or Parsha): the weekly public readings of the Torah, read over the course of a full year. 

Tanakh: the Jewish name for the Bible, which includes the major biblical divisions of Torah, Nevi'im, and Kethuvim. (Tanakh is an acronym formed by the titles of these three sections.)

Torah: the first five books of the Bible, often called the Pentateuch in Christian tradition. Torah means “teaching” or “instruction”.

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