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 the 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 Leningrad Codex1 checked against various print and online editions of the Westminster Codex and BHS.2
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 for this project 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.
Print Format: Hardcover, (For U.S. and U.K. based printers only, Digital Cloth textured)
Binding: Case Laminate
Paper: B/W, 50lb/74gsm Crème Paper
Language: Hebrew (English Introduction)
Page Layout: Single Column
Size: 6 x 9″ (229 x 152mm)
Hebrew Text: Unicode/XML Leningrad Codex 1.1, itself a version of the WLC 4.20. The text has been checked against various print and digital forms of the BHS and WLC.
Errata (to be corrected in future printings): pg. 23, ויֹמֶר וַיֹמֶר should read וַיֹמֶר. (fixed in the second printing)
The Book of the Twelve
Anticipated Release Dates
Part 1 – The Torah, A Journal for the Hebrew Scriptures (eta, March 31, 2023)
1 – Genesis – January 21, 2022
2 – Exodus – March 18, 2022
3 – Leviticus – May 20, 2022
4 – Numbers – July 22, 2022
5 – Deuteronomy – September 23, 2022
Part 2 – The Nevi’im, A Journal for the Hebrew Scriptures (eta, March 25, 2022)
1 – Joshua – January 22, 2021
2 – Judges – January 22, 2021
3 – Samuel – March 26, 2021
4 – Kings – May 21, 2021
5 – Isaiah – July 23, 2021
6 – Jeremiah – September 17, 2021
7 – Ezekiel – November 19, 2021
8 – The Twelve (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi) – November 20, 2020
Part 3 – The Ketuvim, A Journal for the Hebrew Scriptures (eta, March 29, 2024)
1 – Psalms – November 18, 2022
2 – Job – January 20, 2023
3 – Proverbs – March 24, 2023
4 – Megilloth (Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther) – May 19, 2023
5 – Daniel – July 21, 2023
6 – Ezra-Nehemiah – September 22, 2023
7 – Chronicles – November 17, 2023
- Employing the Unicode/XML Leningrad Codex made available on Tanach.us
- The first printing of several volumes erroneously stated that the WLC is “public domain.” The Leningrad codex is in the public domain; the Westminster Leningrad codex is copyrighted under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. All volumes of the Journal for the Hebrew Scriptures use the XML Leningrad codex of Christopher Kimball.
- Joshua, Judges, and the Book of the Twelve are 14 point
- After testing many fonts, Times New Roman was the clear winner. It is not perfect: in comparison to SBL Hebrew, its vowel markers feel quite cramped. However, once this eye has adjusted, this is not a problem for legibility. It is superior to the SBL in terms of compactness and licensing