An Undiscovered Gem: The Stone Edition Tanach–Pocket Sized Edition

Pocket Edition of the Stone Edition Tanach, Three Volume Slipcase Set

Today I return to my stack of Bibles-to-review, and I am really excited about getting to share this edition with you.  This time, I want to show off the Stone Edition Tanach (yes, Tanach is how Artscroll spells it).  The Tanakh is the Jewish Bible (identical to the Christian Old Testament, except for the ordering of the books).  The Stone Edition is a specially commissioned edition that contains the Hebrew text on the right hand pages, a new English translation (that you cannot find anywhere else) on the left, and Study-Bible type notes taken from Rabbinic commentaries on the Hebrew Scriptures at the bottom.  I believe that every serious student of the Hebrew ought to have one of these in his/her collection.  Furthermore, now that Artscroll has released an English only version, many people who don’t read Hebrew will love this copy of the Old Testament, as well.  Why? Well, I’ll break it down here by content, construction, and layout.

This "Pocket Edition" is nice and small; it fits comfortably into the palm of my burly mitt.

Content.  There’s alot of ground to cover here.  I like the Stone Edition’s translation of the Hebrew.  The translation is quite literal and elegant, a lot like the ESV.  It is, however, idiosyncratic in that many of the Hebrew words are not so much translated as transliterated; so, for example, the Hebrew words usually translated as “High Priest” are translated in the Stone Edition as “Cohen Gadol.”  Similarly, YHWH (usually translated “LORD”) is rendered as “Ha Shem” (Hebrew for “The Name”). Yet, these idiosyncratic renderings make the translation something unique; one of my favorite renderings is “Ha Shem, Master of Legions,” for “YHWH Sabaoth/LORD of Hosts.”  You will certainly get a different perspective on the Old Testament or Tanakh if you read through it in the Stone Edition.

The Hebrew text is nice, with a crisp, clear font–although I have found a number of typographical errors that future editions ought to rectify.  Finally, the notes are intriguing and educational for anyone, Christian or Jewish, who wants to get an Orthodox Jewish perspective on the text drawn from Rabbinic commentaries.

Construction.  There is alot to like in this little  Bible. First of all, the paper has the least

It's hard to see in this picture, but there is a strip of fabric reinforcing the binding glued around the first and last signatures of each volume.

bleed through I’ve ever seen in a modern Bible, hands down.  So, this little Bible is easier to read than many Bibles with larger fonts; it’s amazing how much the lack of bleed-through makes a difference.  All editions are smythe-sewn, and they also all have a specially reinforced binding; where some Bibles have “overcast” stitching, this Tanach actually has a type of overcasting involving a piece of fabric reinforcing the first and last signatures!  I’ve never seen anything like it.   

Size and color comparison, top to bottom: Mint green ESV Classic Compact (my wife's), Stone Edition Writings, Stone Edition Prophets, HCSB Soldier's Bible (my dad's), and forest-trail-green/tan ESV PSR.

The sturdy hardcover casings on all three volumes are all embossed with a beautiful design.  As a Baylor alum I’m biased, but I just love the green and gold combo.  Also, since the pocket edition had to be broken down into three volumes (the larger copies are single-volume Bibles), you get a nice, sturdy green slipcase with it.  Overall, the artistry and craftsmanship is quite impressive.

 

 

 

Layout.  I could go on and on with observations about the layout.  Have a look:

Tanach Layout; Judges 18:20-19:7

As you can see, the margins are nice and wide, the English and Hebrew are both in single column, paragraph format, and the overall arrangment is aesthetically pleasing.  The wide margin format also helps to reduce the width of the column of the text, cutting down on a problem faced by most single column format Bibles, where the lines are often distractingly long.

It's hard to see my notes (they're in pencil), but this shot should give you an idea of how I've been able to put the modest of even this tiny volume to very good use.

Also, I’ve put the margins to good use even in this very, very small version, and I’ve given thought to buying a larger edition to preach and teach from–plenty of room for sermon or lecture notes here.  An additional observation:  The English portion puts section headings in the spacious margins, and I love this.  This way, the text isn’t constantly interrupted by pesky insertions, yet you still have the section headings available and off to the side–helpful if you’re trying to navigate the text rapidly, either to get a “bird’s-eye-view” of a book by skimming it or to find a familiar passage within a book.

Parting Shot: All Three Volumes of the Tanach in the Slipcase.

One final note–I’ve noticed that many seminary and graduate students wanting to learn Hebrew have picked up the JPS (Jewish Publication Society) Hebrew-English Tanakh.  I, myself, have two copies of the JPS Tanakh, one that I used until the pages fell out and one which lost its cover in fairly short order.  I now tell everyone to skip the JPS and get the Stone Edition Tanach, for at least two reasons:  1) The JPS Tanach’s more “dynamic” English translation is frustrating for someone trying to learn Hebrew; the Stone Edition’s English translation is better suited to serve as a “translation cheat-sheet,” as it stays closer to the Hebrew. 2) The JPS is very poorly constructed–glued bindings, cheap casings, no sense of aesthetic flair–just all around aweful.  The Stone Edition, by contrast, is beautifully costructed by any standard.

All in all, the Stone Edition is a beautiful little Bible.  Whether you’re a collector, a scholar, a layman, a Christian, an Orthodox Jew, or just a lover of nice books, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy.

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About hjimkeener

Education: B.A.: Moody Bible Institute GCTS: Knox Theological Seminary M.Div.: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Ph.D.: Baylor University Ministry Experience: I have served as a Youth Minister, Associate Pastor of English Ministry, and a pulpit supply preacher. Teaching Experience: In addition to teaching in various volunteer and professional ministry settings, I have taught as a University Professor (Teaching Fellow; Baylor University) and as a Seminary Professor (El Seminario de la Iglesia Presbiteriana de Bolivia). I have also given lectures and sermons in Spanish.
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18 Responses to An Undiscovered Gem: The Stone Edition Tanach–Pocket Sized Edition

  1. Bob Kirk says:

    Thanks for the review Jim… just ordered the student edition.

  2. Rachel Lee says:

    Thanks for the link to the English version only. This copy of Tanach looks like a work of art and the sample pages of the Tanach were very useful in helping me to decide to purchase a copy of this.

  3. Kelley L. says:

    Enjoyed the review. I may have to look into getting a set of these. Thanks

  4. hjimkeener says:

    @Bob: Which one of the student editions are you goin to get? The maroon leather one looks nice (it’s on my Amazon wish list!) Let us know how you like it!
    @ Rachel: Glad to hear that the English only edition is so nice–though I’m not at all surprised, of course! If you’d like to pass along some pics for me to post, let me know.
    @ Kelley: Thanks for the kind words. Let us know what you think, and which edition it is.

  5. Bob Kirk says:

    Jim, I’ve ordered the green hardcover, $30.66 at Amazon.ca, free shipping here in Canada. Saw your review via link at EvangelicalBible.com. Will post feedback when it arrives. 🙂
    Blessings,

  6. hjimkeener says:

    Bob
    Very nice! While I’d imagine that the maroon leather is nicer, the green and gold is beautiful, and its the nicest of their many hardcover options, imo. Let us know what you think when you get it.

  7. Pingback: Getting a Specialty Bible Right: The HCSB Soldier’s Bible | H. Jim Keener, B.A., M.Div., Ph.D.

  8. rick says:

    I just want to ask someone who already bought this edition, is there any words like “YAHWEH” in The Book of Exodus ? Because its translate in English, Right ? Maybe they changed The Word “YAHWEH” to “GOD” (again). Because I already had 12 Different Bible with 12 Different Languages (Indonesian, French, German, Russian, Japanese,etc.) but no word “YAHWEH” in there. Please someone answer my question, Thank You.

  9. hjimkeener says:

    Rick–the Hebrew name for God (transliterated “YHWH” and often translated as “LORD,” “GOD,” “Jehovah,” and “Yahweh”) is translated here as “Ha Shem.” The reason is that Orthodox Jews do not pronounce the name of God, so as to avoid taking God’s name in vain. So, instead they say “Ha Shem” when they come to YHWH–“Ha Shem” is Hebrew for “The Name.” So, in the English section, you will find this edition using the words “Ha Shem” frequently, and this represents the Hebrew letters YHWH in the original Hebrew text.

    Hope this helps!

  10. rick says:

    Thank You Mr.Keener, since I grew up in Indonesia, I never met Orthodox Jews there, But in Indonesia, there`s almost 1 Million Jews lived there (born Jewish but mostly Converted to Christianity for many reasons, Indonesian Jews were largely cut off from the rest of world Jewry for millennia, they don`t look Jewish anymore, but some still practiced Judaism). Since 2 weeks ago, Indonesian Bible Association start using the words “YAHWEH”, and I think this is the right decision.

  11. hjimkeener says:

    No problem, Rick! I never knew there were so many Jewish Christians in Indonesia. Fascinating. The English translations that use the word “Yahweh” would include the Holman Christian Standard Bible, the New Jerusalem Bible, and the Complete Jewish Bible. If you’re interested in an English translation that uses “Yahweh,” I’d suggest you look at one of these Bibles.

  12. BS”D
    Shalom 3aleikhem/Peace be on you!
    This was such a interesting review to find, thank you for your insights.
    As Haredi (orthodox jew) its was a somewhat shock to see such a serious review done by someone of your faith on a TaNaKh. I personally don’t use the Artscroll Tanach since I only use artscroll books for commentary there isn’t really much commentary in their TaNaKh (due to sizing I’m sure) But their Stone Edition Chumash (Torah) has much more to offer as far as commentary so I love digging into that one. But as far as TaNaKh’s go I much prefer the new Koren Tanakh for an English/Hebrew version of the Miqra. Its a undated version of the older Koren Jerusalem Bible. I find it to be a more concise translation then the artscroll and I find both the Hebrew typeset and binding to be much more ascetically pleasing (Especially the grey/red version)
    http://www.amazon.com/Koren-Tanakh-Edition-Jerusalem-Personal/dp/9653011774/ref=pd_cp_b_1

    Shalom w’Brakha
    -Yitzhaq

    • hjimkeener says:

      Yitzhaq
      Thank you for your kind and helpful comments! I have seen a Koren Tanakh, the Jerusalem Bible, but the translation was in King James era English. It sounds like the version you speak of is updated and in modern English. Is this correct? If so, I’d like to see it. Where could I get a copy? How will I know that I am getting a modern English translation and not a translation in 17th Century English?

  13. BS”D
    Yes the Jerusalem Bible is in older English and the Koren Tanakh is more modern reader friendly.
    You can get a copy at any local Jewish book store, ive seen them in the “Big Box” book stores here in Canada as well . But you can for sure order of their website or amazon.
    http://www.korenpub.com/EN/products/tanakh/sifrei_tanakh/9789653011779

    I must note that they opted to produce this Tanakh in an awkward size (in my personal opinion)
    Its only 5.1×7.6 in making it unusually thick. Would be great if they made it the same size as the Jerusalem Bible.

    Warmest blessings.
    -Yitzhaq

  14. Thank you for the review.
    I have the Stone’s Torah and love it, so if the Tanak is as good I will be very happy with it. Thank you too for all the photos this helps to give a better idea of how it looks and will function.

    ps. a lot is two words, not one. Expect it is a typo.

  15. Alex says:

    I want to know which tanakh uses mitzrayim for egypt, moshe for moses, emunah for faith and all original names for people and places ?

    And want to know if the stone edition tanakh is one of them ? And if not, then why not ?

  16. Pingback: Old and newer King James Versions and other translations #7 Jewish versions | Belgian Biblestudents - Belgische Bijbelstudenten

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