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By Nahum M. Sarna / Jewish Publication Society / 2000
Studies In Biblical Interpretation, a volume in the acclaimed JPS Scholars of Distinction series, is a collection of essays by Nahum M. Sarna, one of the most distinguished scholars who has guided the field of Jewish biblical scholarship to maturity in the second half of the twentieth century.
Though under one cover it is impossible to encapsulate the life’s work of a renowned academic, the twenty-seven essays presented in this volume are exemplars of the Jewish exegetical tradition. Saran has been honored in many ways for his contributions, which are far from parochial; his expertise in Jewish interpretive writings accounts for the popularity of his work among non-Jewish scholars. At the same time, the lucidity of those writings makes them accessible to the lay reader as well.
Religious scholars will appreciate the comprehensive and thoughtful foreword by Sarna’s former student Jeffrey Tigay, now the Abraham H. Ellis professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pennsylvania Tigay offers an engaging biography of his mentor and provides an overview that leads the reader into the text.
Studies in Biblical Interpretation is a fitting tribute to [Sarna's] many scholarly and cultural contributions. No Judaic library should be without it.
—Jewish Book World
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.