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The Contemporary Torah

a gender-sensitive adaptation of the JPS translation

Edited by David E.S. Stein

Publication Year: 2006

This adaptation of the JPS translation of the Torah (1962) will appeal to readers who are interested in a historically based picture of social gender roles in the Bible as well as those who have become accustomed to gender-sensitive English in other aspects of their lives. Many contemporary Bible scholars contend that the Bible's original audience understood that the references to God as male simply reflected gendered social roles at the time. However, evidence for this implicit assumption is ambiguous. Accordingly, in preparing this new edition, the editors sought language that was more sensitive to gender nuances, to reflect more accurately the perceptions of the original Bible readers. In places where the ancient audience probably would not have construed gender as pertinent to the text's plain sense, the editors changed words into gender-neutral terms; where gender was probably understood to be at stake, they left the text as originally translated, or even introduced gendered language where none existed before. They made these changes regardless of whether words referred to God, angels, or human beings. For example, the phrase originally translated in the 1962 JPS Torah as "every man as he pleases" has been rendered here "each of us as we please" (Deut. 12:8). Similarly, "man and beast" now reads "human and beast" (Exod. 8:14), since the Hebrew word adam is meant to refer to all human beings, not only to males. Conversely, the phrase "the persons enrolled" has been changed to "the men enrolled" (Num. 26:7), to reflect the fact that only men were counted in census-taking at this time. In most cases, references to God are rendered in gender neutral language. A special case in point: the unpro-nounceable four-letter name for the Divine, the Tetragammaton, is written in unvocalized Hebrew, conveying to the reader that the Name is something totally "other"-- beyond our speech and understanding. Readers can choose to substitute for this unpronounceable Name any of the numerous divine names offered by Jewish tradition, as generations have before our time. In some instances, however, male imagery depicting God is preserved because it reflects ancient society's view of gender roles. David Stein's preface provides an explanation of the methodology used, and a table delineates typical ways that God language is handled, with sample verses. Occasional notes applied to the Bible text explain how gender is treated; longer supplementary notes at the end of the volume comment on special topics related to this edition. In preparing this work, the editors undertook a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the Torah's gender ascriptions. The result is a carefully rendered alternative to the traditional JPS translation. The single most innovative aspect of the gender-sensitive translation offered in The Contemporary Torah is its treatment of the Hebrew word 'ish as a term of affiliation more than of gender. Scholars seeking a fuller explanation of that treatment are invited to read David E.S. Stein's articles in the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures (2008) and in Hebrew Studies (2008).

Published by: Jewish Publication Society

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-ii


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pp. iii

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pp. v-xxxv

The present translation adapts the New Jewish Publication Society (njps) version only with respect to social gender.1 To keep the presentation simple, this edition recasts the invaluable footnotes of the njps translation committee as endnotes; such...

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PREFACE: The Torah (1962)

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pp. xxxvii-xl

The Jewish Publication Society of America produced its first translation of the Bible in 1917. It was quickly accepted by English-speaking Jews the world over; it is still in use and will no doubt continue to be widely favored. Nevertheless, the need for...


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pp. xli-xlii

TORAH: The Five Books of Moses

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pp. xliii

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pp. 1-86

"When God began to create-* heaven and earth—2 the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and *-a wind from-* God sweeping over the water— 3 God said, “Let there be light”; and there was...

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pp. 87-156

These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each coming with his household: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; 3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; 4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5The total number of persons...

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pp. 157-209

vuvh called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: 2Speak to the Israelite people, and say to them: When any of you presents an offering of cattle to vuvh: You shall choose your offering from the herd or from the flock...

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pp. 211-283

On the first day of the second month, in the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt, vuvh spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, saying: 2Take a census of the whole Israelite...

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pp. 285-348

These are the words that Moses addressed to all Israel on the other side of the Jordan.—*-Through the wilderness, in the Arabah near Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab, 2it is eleven days from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by...

Guide to Notes

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pp. 349-350


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pp. 351-392

Dictionary of Gender in the Torah

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pp. 393-412

E-ISBN-13: 9780827610422
Print-ISBN-13: 9780827607965

Publication Year: 2006