Rabbi Barry Rubin, the general editor of The Complete Jewish Study Bible, has so generously agreed to answer a few of our questions about this revolutionary Bible. However, before we get to those, here is small excerpt in Rabbi Rubin’s own words from the introduction of the CJSB:
You hold in your hands a book that will open your eyes to the Bible as never before. You may have heard something like this previously, so you might be wondering how I can make such a bold claim. The answer is that this study Bible contains information from Jewish sources to explain a thoroughly Jewish book—the Bible—written by Jews, about Jews, initially for Jews in the Jewish Land of Israel.
This study Bible contains the newly updated Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), the standard for all Bible texts that restore the original and essential “Jewishness” to God’s word. Why is that so important? After centuries of translations from Hebrew and Green into English and other languages, nuances and even accurate meanings are lost. In one critical example, the original Jewish form of the Messiah’s name—Yeshua—is used in this Bible instead of the Greek translation, Jesus. Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong is saying “Jesus,” but it’s not how he was known to his family, friends, and first-century followers. To them, he was Yeshua, a Hebrew name meaning “salvation.” Since Hebrew names were often given to reflect something about the person, what better name could be given? Reading the Bible in this way increases understanding.
As you can see, Rabbi Rubin’s thoughtful approach to the CJSB warrants more prodding so that we can share with you even more exclusive details about The Complete Jewish Study Bible. Enjoy!
1. What do you hope the publication of The Complete Jewish Study Bible will accomplish?
Ever since I became a believer in 1973, I’ve wanted my people to know that the Messiah had come. Because of several reasons (that I describe in my book, You Bring the Bagels; I’ll Bring the Gospel: Sharing the Messiah with your Jewish Neighbor) the vast majority of Jewish people have been fairly turned off. But by reading The Complete Jewish Study Bible (CJSB), they will see Yeshua (Jesus) in his original Jewish world, not the Gentile world in which he is often seen.
Moreover, as Christians read the CJSB, they too will begin to understand that the movement called Christianity was actually a sect of first-century Judaism that morphed into a Gentile religion that disconnected itself from its roots. The CJSB helps re-attach them to the Jewish roots of their Christian faith.
My prayer is that this will cause something to happen that hasn’t happened since the first century: Jews and Gentiles following the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob together through the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world—Yeshua haMashiach.
2. How do you think the CJB version has been enriched by the additional study notes provided by so many highly esteemed contributors?
The contributions from these esteemed people add depth and richness to the reader’s understanding of Scripture. It’s not just that they are great scholars in their own right, but they have dug into the Jewish roots, background, and context of the word of God more than others. That, alone, enables the reader to understand Scripture the way God meant it to be understood.
3. What’s your favorite of the 12 themes highlighted in the CJSB?
This is difficult to answer since I chose all 12 themes. However, since for 2000 years there have been a lot of misapplications of Bible texts, specifically in the New Testament, which have led to anti-Semitism, our examples of “Anti-Jewish Scriptural Interpretations” serve to set the record straight. That will help Christians grow to love and appreciate the chosen people more and prayerfully reduce the growing anti-Semitism in today’s world.
4. For a reader new to the CJB and the CJSB, what topical article or theme would you recommend they start off reading?
Since the Bible is filled with references and examples of Jewish/biblical holidays and customs, that would be the place to start. Seeing how the Last Supper was really Yeshua’s Last Seder (Passover) enables a reader to get the full message of the gospel, since it connects so much to the book of Exodus.
5. How did you come up with the specific theme articles?
I thought about the themes that I deal with all the time in my congregation here in Maryland, in my speaking to churches around the country, and in the writing that I do to help Christians understand what Messianic Judaism is all about.
6. What do you think is added to a Christian’s experience of the Bible by including the Jewish names of people?
The names of people in the Bible had meaning in their original languages. Names weren’t given because they were “in” or “cute” as is often the case today. They were given to tell us something about God or the people themselves.
Although we didn’t use Hebrew letters to spell the names, we did use more accurate transliterations than most Bibles. All English Bibles use transliterations; ours are more accurate to the underlying Hebrew than any other English Bibles we know of. If a reader wants to dig a little, learning the meaning of these names is eye-opening. Our glossary offers many of these translations so it’s fairly easy to derive this blessing (and even learn some Hebrew).
7. How do you envision Christians using the Shabbat Scripture readings?
In my over forty years of ministry, I’ve noticed that more and more Christians are adopting Jewish practices for their own edification. It’s not just having an annual Passover seder dinner using our Messianic Passover Haggadah, or joining a Messianic Jewish congregation, many are actually using the traditional Jewish weekly readings in their own Bible reading programs. Thus, they are in sync with Jews all around the world who read prescribed portions of Scripture each week. Of course, we’ve added related readings from the New Testament not in traditional Jewish reading cycles. Doing that “completes” the readings by showing the fulfilled word of God in the Messiah and his followers.
8. How do you recommend that someone who is interested in participating in the Jewish holidays and customs after reading the CJSB should begin to do so in a respectful manner?
The best way to start is by learning. We’ve published many books on these subjects, like God’s Appointed Times [Holy Days] and God’s Appointed Customs, plus individual books on the Sabbath, Passover, Hanukkah, etc., so that Christians can learn, not only about them, but can discover their importance in the New Testament, prophecy and personal blessing. My congregation is probably 75% non-Jewish and regularly I hear testimonials about how learning these things has been a great blessing to these Gentile believers.
9. Do you think there’s a risk of Christians misappropriating the Jewish customs/holidays if they celebrate them because they’re not Jewish?
The answer to this is “yes” and “no.” There are some Jews, both Messianic and non-Messianic, who don’t think non-Jews should enjoy these customs and holidays, because they were initially given to the Jews. Moreover, some Christians may misuse Jewish things because they misunderstand them. For example, I saw one fellow attach fringes on his jeans that fell to the floor. I’m sure he meant well but didn’t know how we Jews do it. There’s also a concern that this might water-down our people. Also, sometimes a Christian who gets into Messianic Judaism starts zealously telling us Jews how to do things “right,” which can be bothersome.
All that said, though, a humble believer who comes to his “older brother” and asks to learn is to be embraced, not turned away. We Jews were called to be a light to the Gentiles and to teach them the ways of God as revealed in the entire Bible. I think Messianic Jews can be in a great position to do this since our unique perspective may be the best one from which to share with Gentiles.
So, to answer your question, I will answer in a Jewish way: Yes and No!
Barry A. Rubin, MA in Communications from Ohio University, is rabbi of Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation in Clarksville, Maryland. Founded in 1915, it is the oldest extant Messianic congregation in the world. In 1988, he became director of The Lederer Foundation (now Messianic Jewish Publishers and Resources), a sixty-year-old organization formerly in the Orthodox Jewish section of Baltimore, now in Clarksville/Columbia of Howard County, Maryland. He serves on several boards and has been in the forefront of Messianic Judaism since the 1970s.
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