The Complete Jewish Study Bible; open your eyes to the Bible as never before…

An Interview with Rabbi Barry Rubin

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Rabbi Rubin was kind enough to discuss with Kehila News Israel (KNI) the recent release of The Complete Jewish Study Bible, an exciting and invaluable new resource…

…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. (Barry Rubin)

THE COMPLETE JEWISH STUDY BIBLE (CJSB) draws on David Stern‘s seminal works, the Complete Jewish Bible, the Jewish New Testament and Jewish New Testament Commentary as well as the works of Christian theologians, the Talmud “and major rabbis and Jewish scholars for the past two millennia.”

The general editor of The Complete Jewish Study Bible, Rabbi Barry Rubin, as well as leading the Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation in Howard County, Maryland, is the president of Messianic Jewish Communications and the author of, among other books and publications, You Bring the Bagels, I’ll Bring the Gospel: sharing the Messiah with your Jewish Neighbor; The Sabbath: Entering God’s Rest; the Messianic Passover Haggadah; and Dedicate and Celebrate: A Messianic Jewish Guide to Hanukkah. In addition…

Rabbi Rubin has written for a number of magazines and was the publisher of Messianic Jewish Life magazine, the publication of the International Messianic Jewish Alliance.

Rabbi Barry Rubin
Rabbi Barry Rubin and his wife, Lisa

KNI: How was The Complete Jewish Study Bible project first conceived?

Rabbi Rubin: It certainly goes back to the time when David [Stern] asked me to take over marketing and publishing the Jewish New Testament back in 1989. [Laughs.] Initially we weren’t sure anybody was going to buy it. About ten years later we decided to come up with a Complete Jewish Bible and they have been very popular.

I’ve published a lot of books through Messianic Publishers & Resources, maybe about a hundred, and they are all related to understanding the Bible through Jewish eyes… So, because I have access to all those books, I thought… I could take a lot of the content from those books and add it to a Complete Jewish Bible and create a Complete Jewish Study Bible. Of course I had to have new material written and gathered from other sources as well… As a publisher it just made sense to take the Complete Jewish Bible to its next logical step and that’s The Complete Jewish Study Bible.

I talked to Hendrickson Publishing which is a fairly good-sized Christian publishing house. They’ve done a lot of work with Jewish books, not necessarily Messianic Jewish books but other Jewish authors they’ve published over the years, and reprints. So they had a sensitivity and orientation toward Jewish information. I spoke with their publisher, Rick Brown, a couple years ago—I can’t remember if he approached me or I approached him—nonetheless we had a couple of meetings over the last two years and decided to launch this.

My job was to gather all the content for this book and his job was to be the actual publisher although it’s a co-published version between Hendrickson Publishing and Messianic Jewish Publishers. So we worked together on it. His team did all the graphics and layout and that has added a lot to The Complete Jewish Study Bible as well as adding maps that they owned to the CJSB.

KNI: Is the CJSB now available?

Rabbi Rubin: We had it out in the summer time, in July, so we could get it to the summer Messianic Jewish conferences here in the states.

The most significant thing about this, this has never been done in the history of the world, where some publisher has taken a Bible that’s translated with Jewish sensitivities and then added Jewish study notes from Messianic Jews, rabbis of old [commenting] on the Torah and the Tanach…and we’ve included a lot of that material as well in the CJSB. So it’s never before been done in history and I’m pretty proud of it.

We believe that David Stern’s translation of the whole Bible is the best one out there.

I’m really pleased that we’re working with that content and have added to it.

KNI: One of the added features in the CJSB content are the “twelve themes…”

Rabbi Rubin: Yes. I remember having a meeting with Hendrickson Publishers…and they had done something like that with other Bibles they had published and wondered if I could come up with a dozen themes. I said, “No problem.”

KNI: What most makes the CJSB unique?

David and Martha Stern Holding The Complete Jewish Study Bible
David and Martha Stern holding a copy of The Complete Jewish Study Bible

Rabbi Rubin: There’s never been anything like this, that uses a top-notch, Messianic translation and combines it with excellent articles written from a Messianic Jewish perspective. I am convinced that the Complete Jewish Bible, as a translation, will continue to lead the way among all, let’s call them Messianic Jewish translations and versions of the Bible. It’s an excellently done and fully-vetted translation.

KNI: Is the CJSB now available in other languages?

Rabbi Rubin: Not yet, but it’s being worked on and I hope to get it into other languages soon. Worth noting, the Complete Jewish Bible is available in a dozen or more languages and the leading computer software Bible applications, all the major ones, and I don’t think people are aware of that.

KNI: A Hebrew version would be nice.

Rabbi Rubin: Well, you’ve got to give us a little time on this one. We’re hoping to have the whole thing available in Hebrew in the near future. And Spanish.

KNI: Is there a formal relationship, beyond the CJSB, between Hendrickson Publishers and Messianic Publishers and Resources?

Rabbi Rubin: No but, literally, for decades, Hendrickson’s sister company called Christian Book Distributing, or CBD, has been purchasing our publications for resale to their market, which is pastors and Christians interested in learning about the Bible and about God and Jewish things, but we don’t have a formal relationship with Hendrickson or CBD.

KNI: Has David Stern contributed to the new, CJSB beyond his translation of the Complete Jewish Bible?

Rabbi Rubin: Yes, we used some of his material in the CJSB; He did a magnificent job with something called the Jewish New Testament Commentary, which had been out for many years, and I took sections of the notes from the JNTC and added them to the CJSB because they were excellent, primarily helping to understand the New Testament as a Jewish Book and reading it with Jewish eyes. I also did that with notes from other scholars for the New testament and also the Tanach…

And Dr. John Fisher was a big help because he is an eminent theologian with several doctoral degrees and he reviewed every word that’s in the CJSB and vetted it all.

He’s a great scholar and very widely respected, a Messianic Jew who lives in Florida and he was willing to serve as the theological editor.

KNI: How long did it take to produce the CJSB from inception to publication?

Rabbi Rubin: This idea kind of came to me as I published the [Jewish New Testament, the Complete Jewish Bible and other books] wondering, How do I put this together? I’d say I’ve been working on the CJSB for five or ten years. I don’t know exactly when Hendrickson and I signed an agreement but it’s probably six years ago, something like that.

KNI: Do you have plans for the CJSB to be available as an e-Book?

Rabbi Rubin: Yes… We’ll get it into electronic format as soon as possible. I would say within this year, all this will happen and we’ll start getting some translation agreements done. We want this to be widely read and understood.

KNI: Where can people living in Israel go to obtain the CJSB?

Rabbi Rubin: You can give them my website, messianicjewish.net. There’s information on the home page on how they can order it. I’m pretty sure that they’ll be able to order it from some of the local book shops and distributors in Israel; that’s in the works.

KNI: Anything that you would like to add that I may have not brought out in my previous questions?

Rabbi Rubin: There seems to be some misunderstanding floating around that the Complete Jewish Bible [the principle resource for the CJSB] was not properly vetted because David [Stern] did the translation himself. Some say that it’s not as credible as a translation…done by a committee… That’s not true. Looking back in history some of the leading translations that are even out today have been done by one person. A person who is honest with the text and honest with the languages can do a great translation and do it faster and better than a committee. [Laughs.] Committees often create strange looking creatures…

[David Stern’s translation] was checked out by some major scholars and I have never gotten any feedback that there was anything wrong with the words. Way, way, way back, David tried to get others interested in this project and nobody was interested initially but me… I think people failed to understand the value of having this kind of book available to them… Since that time, I would say that [the Complete Jewish Bible] has actually paved the way into the Christian marketplace for Messianic Jewish Books. And I attribute that to what David initiated and we’ve been able to develop over time.

KNI: And that’s been further validated now, hasn’t it, by Dr. Fisher’s vetting?

Rabbi Rubin: Oh, yes! And Hendrickson [Publishing] has some scholars on staff there that looked it all over. It’s just a false accusation. That’s an issue that it might be helpful to have readers understand; they may hear this, they may hear that, but those things are erroneous… I’m telling you they will love the CJSB just like you will. Wait until you hold one in your hands. There are three different bindings…with different prices and different ISBNs. They are all excellent. They feel great and the printer was absolutely magnificent.

KNI: Our thanks to Rabbi Rubin


Further information:

The Complete Jewish Study Bible (Hendrickson Publishing Product Page)

Messianic Jewish Publishers and Resources