Learn about the books that make up the scriptures and teachings of Judaism. Also get suggestions about books of Judaism that will help you learn about the faith.
Book of Judaism
There is no book of scriptures that is called the “book of Judaism”, but there are scriptures and holy writings that are central to the Jewish faith and way of life. This article discusses those books and also offers reading suggestions for people who are interested in learning about Judaism.
Book of Judaism: Holy Writings
There are basically three main sources of scriptures and teaching that define the Jewish religion.
- Torah: The Torah includes the first five books of what non-Jews call the Old Testament. This includes Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The Torah also includes certain passages from the prophets. It is from the Torah that most of the readings come. During Jewish services, the scriptures are read from hand-written parchment scrolls. Hard bound copies of the Torah are also available and that is what would be found in Jewish households.
- Tanach: Sometimes called the “Jewish Bible”, the Tanach is the entire Old Testament.
- Talmud: The Talmud is the “oral Torah”. This is basically oral interpretations that have been passed down throughout the years. While the Talmud is the oral Torah, printed copies are available.
Book of Judaism: Language
Many rabbis will explain that the best way to study the Torah is in the original Hebrew language. This is one of the reasons that Jewish children attend classes from an early age in which they learn to read, speak and write in Hebrew.
Of course, a non-Jew who wished to study the Torah would be at a great disadvantage if the only option was to purchase a Hebrew version. Happily, English versions of the Torah are very common. In fact, if you have a Bible then you also have a Torah as the Torah is simply, as explained above, the first five books of the Old Testament.
There are versions of the Torah that include commentary, which is very helpful for serious scholars of Judaism.
Book of Judaism: For Beginners
There are many sources of information for those wishing to learn about the Jewish religion. Some do so just out of curiosity. Others are thinking about converting to Judaism. In either case, you can start your research online. Just be sure to choose qualified and reliable sources for your information. There are also a number of wonderful books that can help you to gain understanding about Judaism. Below are some suggestions.
- Tanakh: A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Jewish Publication Society
- The Stone Tanach, Messiah Publications
- The Pentateuch and the Haftorahs, Sonciro Press
- Basic Judaism, Richard Siegel et al
- The New Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten
Each of these books is great reading, but the last two on the list are perfect choices for those just starting to learn about the Jewish faith.