In the last several decades, resources to aid in the study of the Bible in its original languages have flourished. In addition to textbooks and reference resources, several publishers have released Greek and Hebrew reader’s Bibles, providing the text with notes defining rare words. There has also been a growing interest in delivering aesthetically attractive and easy to read works in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, recognizing that aesthetics affect reading in many different ways. Unfortunately, most effort has been put into producing such resources for the Greek New Testament. The reasons for this are many; far more pastors and students read Greek than Hebrew, Greek is the language of the New Testament, the Greek New Testament is smaller so such resources are easier to produce, etc. This is a good thing, but in this series, I hope to offset this unbalance by providing an additional study resource for Hebrew.
There are many reasons to provide a resource such as this for the Hebrew Bible. The primary motivation behind the series A Journal for the Hebrew Scriptures is to promote Hebrew fluency among Evangelical students and pastors. Two-thirds of the Bible is written in Hebrew or Aramaic, and the Old Testament contains rich material necessary for our congregations to live faithfully before God in this World. Unfortunately, the world of Old Testament scholarship is dominated by non-Christian or critical scholarship, and there remains much work to be done in the areas of lexicography, text criticism, and Bible translation. If you spend much time in the Old Testament, you will quickly discover difficulties that require original language tools to resolve. The reader’s Hebrew Bibles provided by Zondervan and UBS are fantastic resources, yet they are cluttered with notes and have little space for marking up the text and making study notes. Taking its cue from Crossway Books recent Greek Scripture Journal, this and following volumes are intended to provide the Hebrew text of the Leningrad Codex in an attractive font and layout along with plenty of room for note-taking. The text printed is that of the Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC)((Employing the Unicode/XML Leningrad Codex made available on Tanach.us)) checked against various print and online editions of the Westminster Codex and BHS.
The reader should note several features or decisions made in the editing process. The goal with formatting decisions has been to achieve readability and open up maximal interpretive options without ruining the reading experience or making it impossible to identify a passage in the English Bible or another Hebrew text. First, the text in each volume does not contain the accent marks or versification of the Leningrad Codex or English Bible tradition. The small and large breaks of the Leningrad codex (marked by a ס and a פ respectively in the BHS and WLC) are rendered as a paragraph break with a sof passuq and a paragraph break and sof passuq followed by a space between paragraphs. In Habakkuk, some alteration of these breaks were applied in accordance with the editor’s Habakkuk commentary. The Qere readings from the Leningrad Codex have been printed in the text with a footnote indicating the Ketiv reading (written consonants with Qere vocalization) and the Qere vowels. In comparison to the BHS and English Bibles, poetry specific formatting has been selectively employed. For prose or embedded poetry, the first line of each paragraph is flush with the margins and the rest of the paragraph is hung by 0.76 cm. Where a passage is clearly poetry (Habakkuk 3, the Psalms, Proverbs, etc.), each line (as determined by the presence of a sof passuq) is followed by a paragraph break. The first line of each poetic section is flush with the margin and each following line indented. Major poetic sections in the Torah and historical books have also been formatted in this manner (e.g. Exodus 15), but small embedded poems or lines (e.g. Genesis 2:23) have not been so marked. This difference in practice is most felt in the prophetic books, where it is often hard to distinguish poetry from prose. For example, Jeremiah in the BHS is largely formatted as poetry with prose sections; in the volume containing Jeremiah in this series, Jeremiah will be formatted exclusively as prose. This does not indicate an interpretive difference but a recognition that the borders between poetry and prose are fluid and so restricting poetry to passages that are explicitly marked or are otherwise clearly marked as poetry minimizes interpretive interference.
At this time, my timetable is rather eclectic as it is driven partly by my own devotion and study schedule. However, the goal is to have the whole series completed, the Lord willing, by 2024, with a volume released every 3 months and a single volume for each section of the Tanakh released after that part is completed.
Part 1 – The Torah, A Journal for the Hebrew Scriptures (eta, January 16, 2023)
1 – Genesis – March 2022
2 – Exodus – May 2022
3 – Leviticus – July 2022
4 – Numbers – September 2022
5 – Deuteronomy – November 2022
Part 2 – The Nevi’im, A Journal for the Hebrew Scriptures (eta, March 21, 2022)
1 – Joshua – January 2021
2 – Judges – March 2021
3 – Samuel – May 2021
4 – Kings – July 2021
5 – Isaiah – September 2021
6 – Jeremiah – November 2021
7 – Ezekiel – January 2022
8 – The Twelve (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi) – November 2020
Part 3 – The Ketuvim, A Journal for the Hebrew Scriptures (March 21, 2024)
1 – Psalms – January 2023
2 – Job – March 2023
3 – Proverbs – May 2023
4 – Megilloth (Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther) – July 2023
5 – Daniel – September 2023
6 – Ezra-Nehemiah – November 2023
7 – Chronicles – January 2024