What version of the Tanakh do you read?

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    basket of radishes

    I have recently purchased a smaller paperback version of the Stone/Artscroll edition for my downstairs of my home.

    I have two bedrooms so I thought I would purchase another Tanakh just this weekend. I bought the Keter Crown edition from Feldheim. I am yet to enjoy this bible.

    But that said, I have been noticing that there are indeed differences between some of the content in these editions.

    I have just discovered that Proverbs 18.1 is not the same from the JPS to the Stone Ed. In fact it is something completely different. I have been comparing it in a few places and there are quite a few ways that this proverb is written.

    I have some questions as to what is the True translation and which is truly the authentic proverbs of King Solomon.

    That said, I am yet to discover more discrepancies as I mostly read from my JPS bedside Tanakh.

    I realize that the JPS may be more associated with the Reform movement. But that said, I found another TANAKH on my kindle that agrees almost fully with the JPS version of Proverbs 18.1. It does have some changes to the second line of the verse, but I am curious as to what is true.

    The STone Ed writes that:

    One who removes himself to court lust will be exposed in every Torah Enclave. (The Art Scroll Takanh Serioes book of Mishlei writes the same but actually puts Torah in parentheses).

    The JPS Verion version of Proverbs 18.1 writes:

    He who isloates himself pursues his desires; He disdains all competence.

    I am curious as to which one is really the actual proverb of King Solomon.

    Somehow, I am wondering if it might be the JPS version though I will tell you that of course the Stone Ed. verse is true and accurate. And perhaps it does not just limit itself to Torah Conclaves.

    But is this an effort on behalf of the Torah communities to more hone this particular proverb and discourage of course our children from simply being at odds with the Torah conclaves?

    The Kindle Version of the Tanakh states the following:

    Proverbs 18.1 He that separateth himself seeketh his own desire, and snarlest against all sound wisdom.

    More like the JPS version.

    I see that this is also from the 1917 Jewish Publication Society Societies.

    That said, I am curious.

    What Tanakhs do you guys use out there?

    Are there any other versions that are in fact even better.

    Most preferredly, I like one that I can use at the bedside and that fits nicely in the hands.

    Thanks for your interest.

    Another slight detail of difference is in Proverbs 20.1

    Both state that Wine is a Scoffer. JPS then says Strong drink makes one a roisterer whereas the Stone Ed. says that Stong drink makes you cry out.

    I would suggest that in this case, the JPS writings are more exact and more depictive.

    I imagine that I can go on for a long while comparing bibles.

    But that said, I must wonder if one is particularly stronger in wisdom and more useful overall than the other.

    Overall, though I have met others who have criticized the JPS version and called it the “reform” version, I must say that I am overly pleased with my JPS Tanakh as it meets my needs to a greater degree than the orthodox endorsed Stone Edition.

    More so, though, I would suggest from what little that I do know that if you are going to be a true student and diligent interrpreter of the Tanakh, you must indeed possess a few different versions and where it may be that you wish to delve into a more specific meaning of a verse, you should indeed consult more than a few versions and winnow out the true meanings of the verses you study.


    The “authentic proverb of Solomon” is that which is written in the Masoretic Text of the Aleppo Codex that we use today. Anything else will only be one dimensional translations that fall short of expressing the full scope of any single verse.

    There can not really be a “True translation” as the various nuances of Biblical Hebrew doesn’t lend itself to a single universal translation in many if not most cases.

    Also, I think for the most part our studies have not focused on translating the text since elementary school. We are mostly familiar enough with the translation to be more focused on the commentators and using their various commentaries on the verses to get a deeper understanding of the text. Additionally, we are all familiar with the adage that “there are 70 facets to Torah”. So we do not winnow out the truth from our commentaries. We eat the loaves of bread that were prepared for us.

    In my opinion- and don’t take this negatively- your question sounds a bit Christian.

    basket of radishes

    Thanks for the reply up until the part that you said I sound “christian”. I do not really know what to take home from this seemingly impersonal and impolite assessment of what I thought to be a truly academic pursuit of Truth. That said, I will admit that the christians do have questions about which bible is best and which translation to get. I had not really thought it applied to us as Jews until I saw how vastly different some of the writings were between the 2 Jewish Tanakhs.

    There are clearly differences between Takakhs and I personally think that one who is Jewish should find a version that he is comforatble. But that said, if there is an alteration in the truth that is expressed in a bible from one to another, this is not a christian interest but the interest of a Jew or other truth seeking soul in his pursuit of excellence and trust in G-d.

    Make sense?


    I didn’t mean to say that you are a Christian, but that the question is one of more Christian concern that Jewish.

    I don’t believe we spend much time concerned with which translation is the most accurate one as it is generally the unlearned that use the translation altogether. The “truly academic” use the Mikraos Gedolos which is not a translation at all.

    Those that do need translations usually turn to either Metsudah, Artscroll and others. These are orthodox publishers who can be relied on to relay some aspect of the ideas that the verses are expressing. They do not, and cannot express the entire spectrum of ideas that any given verse contains. Only the original can do that.

    That is why I call your question a Christian one. They do not generally study Hebrew and are forced to rely on translations and overemphasize its importance.

    I am not saying anything that is unknown. Even Onkelos’ “translation” is often more of a commentary than a word for word translation. Let alone, Yerushalmi and Yonasan ben Uziel.

    basket of radishes

    Sadly, my friend, I resent that you might attribute a challenged religions ways with my own personal interests. I am not a christian and I am a Jew. I would suggest that you change your paradigm of oneway-ism and consider this from a few other viewpoints.

    There is a difference in the editions of Tanakh and I asked which Tanakh people use. I have actually once been attacked by another jew for using the JPS version and told to “get a Stone Edition”. There must be a reason (though I will suggest that this fellow was antisocial and angry).

    I just think that attacking my inquiry as if it was from one of the non Jewish faiths is an attack on my integrity and my own trust in Hashem.

    So thanks again for the knowledge, but mind your p’s and q’s.


    it depends on whom the translation is based. on which commentary. the stone edition is based mainly off rashi i believe and is most widely accepted. im not sure which commentary the JPS version is based upon. find out and we can talk about it. based on your question i assume you do not know hebrew or this would be a non-issue. i would suggest learning hebrew seeing as no matter how good the translation, it is nonetheless and translation and is therefore imperfect. there are nuances which can only be discerned through the understanding of the complexities of the language and the context of individual words within sentences. a translation lacks that.

    basket of radishes

    I can not say that I will ever be a hebrew scholar, but that said, I have indeed the Mesorah/Artscroll 2 book edition of the indepth of proverbs/Mislei that is a very good read. It goes through each proverb and writes a good page or so about each of them including an understanding of the hebrew that is written on each of the proverbs. They do discuss the hebrew, but in many of the cases it is clearly not that apparant which of the true meanings are for each hebrew proverb.

    minyan gal

    I have the JPS English/Hebrew Tanach. I purchased it a couple of years ago for a course that I was taking – it was one of the required textbooks. The one that I bought is very small and was easy for me to transport back and forth to class. I haven’t compared the translations from this Tanach to any other, but I find it highly readable and the translations make sense to me.


    <Only the original can do that.>

    Only the original accompanied by the traditional rabbinic commentaries.

    <Even Onkelos’ “translation” is often more of a commentary than a word for word translation.>

    This is correct — and Baruch HaShem Onkelos’ translation itself has recently translated into English; the last volume is due out this month. It brings alive Onkelos’ often-difficult Aramaic.


    The 1962 JPS translation is generally acknowledged as the most literally accurate translation of the Tanach. (Be careful not to get the 1917 one which is pretty much a poor imitation of the KJV.) Artscroll translates almost exclusively according to Rashi, (sometimes others) but it is not the way to go if you’re looking for a literal translation of the individual Hebrew phrases. Koren has a tanakh translation. Though I haven’t seen it yet, they have a very good reputation.


    BoR – I believe that the discrepancy may be attributable to the different methods of translation. I am assuming (and please correct me if I am wrong) that all the editions that you have been using agree as to the original Hebrew proverb, and it is just the English in which there is a difference. If that is correct, the “original” proverb of Solomon is simply that Hebrew proverb.

    Now, when translating to English, there are editions (and editors) which prefer literal translation over contextual accuracy, and others whose preference would be the reverse. Artscroll, which is an Orthodox company, almost always will choose contextual accuracy, and will base said accuracy on the opinion or opinions of the classic rabbinic commentaries of Tanach. The editors at Artscroll freely admit that the translation doesn’t, and cannot possibly, encompass ALL of the rabbinic opinions, and their reasoning that determines which one they use is often not apparant. (I believe that ItcheSrulik isn’t entirely correct in stating that they translate “almost exclusively according to Rashi”; they very often use others.)

    Whether the other (non-Artscroll) translation of this particular proverb is based on a different commentary or simply on a literal translation (which then may be rejected by all opinions) is beyond the realm of my limited scholarship, but suffice it to say that there are countless ways to understand almost every verse in Tanach, and it is very often futile to attempt to determine the “true” meaning – indeed, the authors of the books of Tanach, with their Divine inspiration and superior intellect, may have had many intentions in mind when choosing a particular phrase.

    basket of radishes

    Usually I see how one translation may apply and so would another. But in this case of Proverbs 18.1, I could not see how the two second portions were in any way in sync with one another. But that said, I personally like both. But without true hebrew learning, one is not really completely able to fully merit the full understanding if he is to wish to investigate this to completion.

    But that said, I am not completely in knowledge about Solomon and his writing. Was King Solomon one that wrote and expressed himself in Hebrew in that day? David too? Was aramaic the way of the time? If that is the case, then even the hebrew was added at another time. But still, I will imagine that it was truly written in hebrew to the best of my knowledge. Certainly it was not an english work.

    m in Israel

    I don’t have anything to add to the clear explanations offered above. However I do think it must be stressed that there are no different versions of Tanach — simply different versions of the translation. Anyone who has ever worked in translation knows that there is no “right” or “wrong” in many aspects of translation, particularly when dealing with language that is poetic or figurative. It is also virtually impossible to accurately translate anything, and certainly not Tanach with is layers of meaning. I don’t believe this is an issue of “if there is an alteration in the truth that is expressed in a bible from one to another”, but rather an alteration of the focus of the translation. The Orthodox sources tend to rely heavily on the Rabbinic interpretation even when attempting the literal translation of the words, while other sources may focus more on the technical grammatical constructs. Additionally some translations are not even translations from the Hebrew but rather translations from Greek or Latin translations — leaving you even more removed from the original source.

    As has been mentioned, most serious Biblical students in the Orthodox world use the original Hebrew with commentators (often the Mikraos Gedolos), which will obviously get you the most accurate truth. This is obviously not an option for everyone, but it is important to realize the limitations of using translations altogether,and understand that many discrepancies you find may be simply unavoidable if you cannot access the original.

    Remember the original translation of Tanach into Greek was considered a tragedy in Jewish history, and it was considered a miracle that the 70 scholars translating it separately actually came up with identical translations.


    I love the Stone/ Artscroll series. It’s excellent. The only problem is when we start quoting it as a Meforeish as in, “Well Rashi said this and Artscoll says…”

    basket of radishes

    Thanks M in Israel. Your clarification of the idea that there are just different versions of the translations is spot on. I would be in error then to say that there are different versions of the Tanakh. Tanakh is Tanakh and there is only one Tanakh.

    m in Israel

    Basket — I saw your most recent post after I posted. To clarify your questions regarding languages, all of Tanach was written in Lashon Hakodesh (classical Hebrew), and the Mishna was as well. Aramaic began to be used in Torah writings with the Talmud, during the end of the second Temple period and after the Roman exile. (Solomon build the first temple, 800 + years before that, and David his father obviously lived before him.)


    m in Israel: Just a point of terminology, the Hebrew of the Mishna is a very different dialect from the Hebrew of the Tanach, which is why it has its own name — Mishnaic Hebrew. Also, almost two full books of the Bible are written in Aramaic. There are even a few words in the Chumash itself that are Aramaic.

    m in Israel

    ItcheSrulik — Thanks for the correction — I believe I was correct that in the time period of Dovid/ Shlomo the language of the land was still Loshon Hakodesh, but I was certainly inaccurate when I said “all of Tanach” is written in Lashon Hakodesh. In my defense I never actually learned sefer Daniel — but what is the second book written in Aramaic?


    There are even a few words in the Chumash itself that are Aramaic. “

    One example is the name that Lavan gave the pile of stones that marked a truce between Yaakov and him, “Yigar Sahaduta” and which Yaakov called Galeid (Gilad).

    me too

    Large parts of Ezra-Nechemiah are written in English.

    Going back to the OP, one advantage of the Koren translation over both Artscroll and JPS is that the Koren uses transliterated Hebrew for the names of people and places instead of the Hellenized “English” names. JPS always uses the Hellenized names, Artscroll uses them most of the time.

    me too

    Large parts of Ezra-Nechemiah are written in English ?

    close enough if you meant vernacular of the time aramaic


    Busybody: Thanks. That was a typo.


    BoR: An interesting example this week about how, as Derech HaMelech mentioned above, a translation cannot carry all the nuances of the original Hebrew text:

    G-d allowed Bilam to go with the officers of Balak. Bilam does that and then G-d is angry at Bilam for going.

    Difficult to understand – if G-d let him go, why was He angry with him for doing that.

    Goan of Vilna gives a simple explanation. There are two words which both mean ‘with’: ?? and ??. ?? means going with equal intent and ?? means accompanying, but with different intent.

    If you now read through the Hebrew text, it makes perfect sense: G-d allowed Bilam to go ???. But: ???? *??* ??? ???? – Bilam did not obey and therefore G-d was angry with him.

    If you have just the translation to work with, you’re stuck. Which is why you need a translation which includes commentary.

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