A Guide to Choosing Your Bible
The TANAKH is the canon of the Jewish Bible (also known as the Hebrew Bible, the Holy Scriptures, or the Old Testament). “TANAKH” is an acronym for the text’s three sections: the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings).
The JPS TANAKH is widely recognized as the most authoritative and preferred English translation of the Hebrew Bible in the Jewish world and beyond.
The JPS TANAKH is available in print in various sizes, colors, and styles in both a Hebrew-English edition and an English-only edition. The English-only version is also available through most e-book vendors. Print editions of portions of the TANAKH are also available, such as The Torah, The Book of Psalms, and The Five Megilloth and Jonah. The JPS Audio Bible is an audio version of the English-only edition available through audible.com and iTunes.com.
About the Translation
Regarded throughout the English-speaking world as a landmark English translation of the Holy Scriptures, the JPS TANAKH has been acclaimed by scholars, rabbis, lay leaders, Jews, and Christians alike. The JPS TANAKH is an entirely original translation of the Holy Scriptures into contemporary English, based on the original masoretic (traditional Hebrew) text. The JPS TANAKH emerged from the collaborative efforts of an interdenominational team of Jewish scholars and rabbis working together over a twenty-year period. The translators made use of the entire range of biblical interpretation, ancient and modern, Jewish and non-Jewish. The resulting text is a triumph of literary style and biblical scholarship, unsurpassed in accuracy and clarity.
About the Hebrew Text
The Hebrew text of the JPS TANAKH is based on the famed Leningrad Codex, the masoretic text traceable to Aaron ben Moses ben Asher, ca. 930. Ben Asher researched all available texts to compile an authoritative Bible manuscript. In 1010 his work was revised by Samuel ben Jacob, a scribe in Egypt. Lost for centuries, the manuscript was eventually discovered in the mid-nineteenth century and became known as the Leningrad Codex. JPS has adapted the latest BHS edition of the Leningrad text by correcting errors and providing modern paragraphing.
JPS Hebrew-English TANAKH
The JPS Hebrew-English TANAKH features the oldest-known complete Hebrew version of the Holy Scriptures, side by side with JPS’s renowned English translation. Its well-designed format allows for ease of reading and features clear type, an engaging and efficient two-column format that enables readers to move quickly from one language to another, and an organization that contemporary readers will find familiar. It opens as a Hebrew-language book (from left to right).
Deluxe Edition – Hardcover, navy leatherette padded binding, gilded edges, navy satin ribbon
Size: 6 x 9
Font size: 9 pt
Weight: 2 lbs
JPS TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures
This is the classic, standard English-only TANAKH. All editions contain the same one-column format in English text. Each biblical book and weekly reading is marked with the corresponding name in Hebrew.
Hardcover Edition – Blue with dust jacket
This is the most popular English-only Bible. Beneath the glossy blue dust jacket is a classic dark blue hardcover binding with gold lettering. It is an attractive shelf book with an easy-to-read typeface.
Size: 6 x 9
Font size: 10 pt
Weight: 1 lbs 15 oz
Sample page: tanakh-hardcover-excerpt
Gift Edition – Leatherette
This is the ideal gift Bible for a bar or bat mitzvah, wedding, confirmation, or graduation. The inside text is identical to the other editions but the cover looks and feels like leather and is more formal than the others. It comes in a black box, suitable for giftwrapping or giving as is.
Available in black and white
Size: 5 x 7
Font size: 8 pt
Weight: 1 lb 13 oz
The JPS Bible, Pocket Edition
This pocket sized TANAKH is the most popular version of the JPS Jewish Bible. Easy to hold and carry, the text is identical to the full-sized English-only editions, set much smaller, in two columns. It fits easily into a handbag, briefcase, backpack, or jacket pocket. The sturdy coated paper cover will stand up well to heavy use and is available in rose and moss colors.
Available in rose and moss
Size: 4 x 6
Font size: 6 pt
Weight: 11 oz
The Torah: The Five Books of Moses
The Torah is the essence of Jewish tradition; it inspires each successive generation. The current JPS translation, based on classical and modern sources, is acclaimed for its fidelity to the ancient Hebrew. The Torah includes these five biblical books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
All editions have brick red covers and contain the same English-only, one column text.
Hardcover Edition with dust jacket
Size 6 x 9
Font size: 11 pt
Weight: 1 lb 5 oz
Pocket Edition (Paperback)
Size: 4 x 6
Font size: 10 pt
Weight: 14 oz
Large Print Edition (Paperback)
Size: 7 x 10
Font size: 18 pt
Weight: 2 lb 8 oz
JPS Audio Bible
The JPS Audio Bible is the English audio version of the JPS TANAKH, produced and recorded for JPS by the Jewish Braille Institute. It features thirteen narrators who together have created sixty-one hours of listening. The readers include stage and television actors, radio personalities, teachers, and voiceover talents, including Theodore Bikel, Tovah Feldshuh, Bruce Feller, and Harold Kushner.
The JPS TANAKH – FAQs
What is the TANKAH?
The TANAKH is the canon of the Jewish Bible, also known as the Hebrew Bible, the Holy Scriptures, or what Christians refer to as the Old Testament. “Tanakh” is an acronym for the text’s three sections: the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings)
What is the difference between the Torah and the TANAKH?
The TANAKH consists of all three sections of the Jewish Bible. The Torah is the first of these sections. It is also known as the Pentateuch, the Law of Moses, or the Five Books of Moses. The Torah contains these five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
What is the JPS TANAKH?
The JPS TANAKH is available in both English-only and Hebrew-English editions. The Hebrew text of the Hebrew-English version is based on the famed Leningrad Codex, the masoretic text. Both versions include an entirely original translation of the Holy Scriptures into contemporary English, based on this traditional Hebrew text. The translation used is a slightly updated version of the 1985 JPS translation, commonly referred to as “the New JPS Translation.”
What is the difference between the new and old JPS translations?
The old JPS translations (OJPS) of the TANAKH was published in 1917. This translation is based on the Protestant Revised Version with the “un-Jewish and anti-Jewish” phrases replaced with traditional Jewish interpretation to reflect Jewish feeling, law, faith, and tradition. The OJPS translation uses some archaic language, such as “shalt,” “thee,” and “thou,” because it borrowed heavily from the King James Version. Several passages in the 1917 version are much more poetic in tone than the later translation. The 1917 edition, now in the public domain, is not available from JPS in print form. It is available as a free downloadable pdf.
The new JPS translation (NJPS) of the Tanakh’s three parts (Torah, Prophets, Writings) were published over a twenty-year period. The JPS Torah was published first in 1962. The Prophets (Nevi’im) was published in 1978 and the Writings (Ketuvim) in 1980. The three parts were then combined into the JPS TANAKH in 1985. This article by Leonard Greenspoon was written in 2012 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the “New JPS Translation” of the Torah.
The JPS TANAKH
The Most Widely Read Jewish Bible in English Translation
With its clear, fresh language, the JPS TANAKH is widely recognized as an essential Bible resource by Jews and Christians, scholars and lay leaders. It has been chosen by many religious leaders and secular groups as the definitive edition of the Holy Bible.
- The JPS TANAKH is used in the Reform movement’s The Torah: A Modern Commentary (Plaut) and in the Conservative movement’s Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary.
- The JPS TANAKH is the official Jewish version in the “Bible as Literature” curriculum for American public schools and for its Jewish Bible website.
- The JPS Torah and JPS TANAKH are the gifts of choice for b’nai mitzvah, confirmations, and graduations in hundreds of synagogues in the United States.