The JPS Torah Commentary series is a reference collection that combines classic and recent scholarship. The series covers the Torah, that is the first five books of the Hebrews bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The publisher notes that “every page contains the complete traditional Hebrew text, with cantillation notes, the JPS translation of the Holy Scriptures, aliyot breaks, Masoretic notes, and commentary by a distinguished Hebrew Bible scholar, integrating classical and modern sources.”
Note: See the Bible Commentaries Comparison Chart to see how the JPS series compares to dozens of other commentary series.
JPS Torah Bible Commentaries: Reviews
On the Exodus volume:
From Library Journal: “. . . a masterful commentary by eminent scholar Sarna. Drawing upon classical and modern sources, Sarna’s exegesis and historical and philological interpretations are scholarly yet quite accessible to nonspecialist readers. Included are an introduction, six excurses on problematic subjects, a glossary, and notes. Sarna eschews any attempt to discuss the provenance of the Exodus text, although he does state that he considers Exodus a work of historiosophy (a document of faith) rather than a work of historiography… this beautifully formatted book will greatly help elucidate the text of a seminal book of the Hebrew Bible.”
On the Ecclesiastes volume:
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society: “This volume is a profitable resource for both scholars and pastors. Pastors will appreciate its brevity and clarity, and scholars will respect its depth and thoughtfulness.”
Purpose of the JPS Torah Commentary Series
From the publisher: “This JPS Torah Commentary series guides readers through the words and ideas of the Torah. Each volume is the work of a scholar who stands at the pinnacle of his field. Every page contains the complete traditional Hebrew text, with cantillation notes, the JPS translation of the Holy Scriptures, aliyot breaks, Masoretic notes, and commentary by a distinguished Hebrew Bible scholar, integrating classical and modern sources. Each volume also contains supplementary essays that elaborate upon key words and themes, a glossary of commentators and sources, extensive bibliographic notes, and maps.”
Volumes in the JPS Tanakh Commentary Series
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Nahum Sarna (1923 – 2005) was a modern biblical scholar who is best known for the study of Genesis and Exodus represented in his Understanding Genesis (1966) and in his contributions to the first two volumes of the JPS Torah Commentary (1989/91). He was also part of the translation team for the Kethuvim section of the Jewish Publication Society’s translation of the Bible, known as New Jewish Publication Society of America Version.
Baruch Abraham Levine, (1930 – ) is the Skirball Professor Emeritus of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University. Levine was educated at Case Western Reserve University and gained his Ph.D. at Brandeis University in (1962) and writes mainly in the fields of Biblical studies and middle eastern studies. Levine wrote the JPS Torah Commentary: Leviticus commentary, the book In the presence of the Lord and the commentaries Numbers 1-20 and Numbers 21-36 in the Anchor Yale Bible series. He was president of the American Oriental Society, the Association for Jewish Studies and the Biblical Colloquium. He also sat on the board member of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis.
Jacob Milgrom (1923 – 2010) was a prominent American Jewish Bible scholar and Conservative rabbi, best known for his comprehensive Torah commentaries and work on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Jeffrey Howard Tigay (1941 – ) is a modern biblical scholar who is best known for the study of Deuteronomy and in his contributions to the Deuteronomy volume of the JPS Torah Commentary (1996). Educated at Columbia University and gaining his B.A. in 1963, he continued toward rabbinic ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (M.H.L., 1966). He earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies from Yale University.
“This informative commentary . . . dissects the Book of Esther and, by extension, the Jewish holiday of Purim. Berlin begins with a lengthy introduction, discussing Esther as comedy and as Diaspora literature; the introduction does a fine job of explaining the Persian period and its various art forms.”
Journal of Hebrew Scriptures:
“The sum of the matter, when all is said and done, is that the JPS Ecclesiastes/Koheleth is a thorough, sensitive, and engaging study with much to recommend it.”
“Simon’s commentary is a welcome addition to this excellent series.”
David L. Lieber (1925–2008), emeritus president, University of Judaism (American Jewish University):
“Without a doubt, the finest commentary on the Haftarot I have studied.”
Chicago Jewish Star:
“This is a significant and valuable work that, in examining the Haggadah from an historical perspective, offers insight into Jewish history as well.”