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Genesis (The JPS Torah Commentary)

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Balancing reverence for the text with rigorous scholarship, Sarna’s commentary is an illuminating and exhaustive treatment of Genesis. Included with the line-by-line analysis are thirty excursuses, and helpful maps. The commentary also features expository sections, including “Eden and the Expulsion: The Human Condition,” “The Depravity of Canaan,” “God’s Election of Abraham,” “Isaac, Father of Two Nations,” “Joseph’s Liberation and Rise to Power,” and many others.

This resource is available as part of the JPS Tanakh Commentary Collection (11 volumes).

Resource Experts

Top Highlights

“It takes the initial word be-reʾshit2 to mean ‘at the beginning of time’ and thus makes a momentous assertion about the nature of God: that He is wholly outside of time, just as He is outside of space, both of which He proceeds to create. In other words, for the first time in the religious history of the Near East, God is conceived as being entirely free of temporal and spatial dimensions.” (Page 5)

“The biblical Creation narrative is a document of faith. It is a quest for meaning and a statement of a religious position. It enunciates the fundamental postulates of the religion of Israel, the central ideas and concepts that animate the whole of biblical literature. Its quintessential teaching is that the universe is wholly the purposeful product of divine intelligence, that is, of the one self-sufficient, self-existing God, who is a transcendent Being outside of nature and who is sovereign over space and time.” (Pages 2–3)

“In the present passage, then, it is best to understand ‘knowledge of good and bad’ as the capacity to make independent judgments concerning human welfare.” (Page 19)

“Never are these creatures accorded divine attributes, nor is there anywhere a suggestion that their struggle against God could in any way have posed a challenge to His sovereign rule.” (Pages 2–3)

“The sentencing ends on an ironic note. Human beings had attempted to elevate themselves to the level of the divine. All they achieved was to condemn themselves to a ceaseless, brutal struggle for subsistence, with the consciousness of the fragility of life ever hanging over them.” (Page 29)

Product Details

  • Title: The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis
  • Author: Nahum M. Sarna
  • Publisher: Jewish Publication Society
  • Publication Date: 1989
  • Pages: 414

Nahum M. Sarna received his Ph.D. in biblical studies and Semitic languages from Dropsie College, Philadelphia. He taught at Gratz College in Philadelphia from 1951 to 1957 when he was appointed librarian of the Jewish Theological Seminary and member of its faculty. In 1965 he joined the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department at Brandeis University. Sarna was a translator for the Kethuvim (Writings) new Jewish Publication Society translation of the Bible and the general editor of its Bible Commentary Project, and, after retiring from Brandeis University in 1985, academic consultant for Judaica. He was a departmental editor of the Encyclopaedia Judaica for Bible—the period of the Pentateuch, the Desert, Joshua and Judges—and also contributed major articles to the Encyclopaedia Britannnica, the Encyclopaedia Hebraica, the Encyclopaedia Biblica Hebraica, the Encyclopaedia of Religion, and the Oxford Companion to the Bible. He has written over 100 scholarly articles, some of which were collected in Studies in Biblical Interpretation. One of the major thrusts of his work has been to make the Bible and biblical scholarship available to the broad Jewish community. For example, his Understanding Genesis (1966) has served as a general introduction to the Bible . This was followed by Exploring Exodus (1986) and his Commentary on Genesis (1989) and Commentary on Exodus (1991), and Songs of the Heart: An Introduction to the Book of Psalms (1993), a study of selected psalms.

The Jewish Publication Society of America was founded in Philadelphia in 1888 to provide the children of Jewish immigrants to America with books about their heritage in the language of the New World. As the oldest publisher of Jewish titles in the English language, the mission of JPS is to enhance Jewish culture by promoting the dissemination of religious and secular works of exceptional quality, in the United States and abroad, to all individuals and institutions interested in past and contemporary Jewish life.

Over the years JPS has issued a body of works for all tastes and needs. Its many titles include biographies, histories, art books, holiday anthologies, books for young readers, religious and philosophical studies, and translations of scholarly and popular classics. It is perhaps known best for its famous JPS Tanakh, the translation of the Hebrew Bible in English from the original Hebrew.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition

Table of Contents: 1 | 2 | 3

Sample pages: 1 | 2 | 3


9 ratings

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  1. UrbanRam



    Disappointingly it doesn't include the Hebrew text or NJPS translation.
  2. Jack Hairston

    Jack Hairston


  3. Stephen Kearon
  4. MDD



  5. Allen Browne

    Allen Browne


  6. Jack Bishop

    Jack Bishop


  7. BKMitchell



  8. Mark Saliba

    Mark Saliba


  9. DMB




Digital list price: $59.99
Save $12.00 (20%)