Large Print Reviews
The Five Books of Moses
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - October 11, 2001
Jewish Publication Society's large print edition of The Torah contains the complete text of the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This English edition of The Torah is based upon the second edition of the new Jewish Publication Society's translation of The Holy Scriptures. This translation was based upon the traditional Hebrew (Masoretic) text and it incorporates the most recent advancement in archaeology and scholarly research that pertains to the Torah.
The main body of the text is printed in a dark, bold, 16-point font. The text is printed on cream colored paper. This was an excellent color choice. It not only helps to increase contrast, but it also eliminates the problems with glare that many readers experience when reading books printed on regular white paper. This edition of the Torah has been issued as a paperback, making it relatively light weight and easy to handle. It is well bound, and the pages are heavily glued together so that there should not be any problems with the pages coming loose, even after years of use. The book measures approximately 10 inches by 7 inches, and it contains 620 pages.
To assist the reader, a list of scriptural readings is included. This list is arranged to coincide with the order of the books. The titles of the readings are listed in English and in unvowelized Hebrew, and the exact sections to be read are also listed. The scriptural readings are also noted in the text itself. This is accomplished by each section being headed by the title of the scriptural reading. Within the text, these titles are printed in both English and unvowelized Hebrew. Book titles are also given in both English and unvowelized Hebrew. The text, itself, is in English. There are a few exceptions to this English only rule. In rare cases, specific words are presented in transliterated Hebrew. This occurs when there exist no translation for the word being used. For example, in Exodus 3.14 the text in this translation reads, "...Thus shall you say to the Israelites, 'Ehyeh sent me to you'." According to the footnote accompanying the word Ehyeh, the translation of this word is uncertain, but it is variously translated as "I am" or "I will be."
Throughout the text are scattered a few footnotes that delineate such items as alternate translations, as well as indicating when the translators had difficulty in translating a given word. The book contains a preface that explains, in detail, how the translation was rendered and how and why changes have been made, in regard to previous translations. While the main text is printed in a dark, 16-point font, some readers may have difficulty reading the footnotes. The footnotes are printed in a 12-point font that is much lighter than the main text. As the footnotes are infrequent and primarily deal with issues of translation, they are not essential for an understanding of the text, so, for most readers, their smaller print size is not a major issue.
This edition of The Torah will be useful to both those who are visually impaired, as well as those who just prefer the added comfort of reading a book with larger print. It is perfect for both general reading and as a reference book. It is not, however, intended to be a study Chumash as it does not contain the Hebrew text and it does not contain any commentary. Such a Chumash, in large print, would be a boon to the many people who cannot read standard print. unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, such a book does not yet exist.
Until the publication of this large print edition of The Torah, there was not a commercially available, modern, large print edition of this essential book. By making this large print edition available, the Jewish Publication Society has helped to make accessible, to many visually impaired readers, the holy words of the Torah. In addition, the Jewish Publication Society will shortly be augmenting this publication by the addition of a large print edition of the Psalms. When it is published, I will append a note to this review.
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