Is there a translation of the Bible which includes footnotes of original words, such as 'Echad'?

I can’t think of many examples, but words such as ‘Echad’. In: Deuteronomy 6:4: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one (echad) LORD

Also, I read somewhere that the word used for ‘I AM’, is slightly different to the usual ‘I am’’? If so, is there a translation which would have this in a footnote or something?

I hope that make sense. I have’t studied any theology, but it would be interesting if there was a translation which was formatted like this (Including words such as Echad).

There is some information on these pages (bottom, and hover mouse over blue note numbers). This is the NET (New English Translation) Bible which has lots of helpful notes.

Also, I read somewhere that the word used for ‘I AM’, is slightly different to the usual ‘I am’’? If so, is there a translation which would have this in a footnote or something?

Thank you! That site is really good. I’ll study that after the exams, but it’s a shame you can’t buy a physical copy of a Bible like that.

The depth of study that you seek is most likely found in commentaries. I have seen commentaries that have two or three lines of scripture and the rest of the page is explication of the text. Your priest should be able to point you to a good commentary and may actually lend you a copy.

Thanks you so much! I’ll be looking around on-line for something like this and ask my priest this weekend! :smiley:

You can. Hardbacks at 29.95 and up (for leather).

Remember though that this isn’t a Catholic Bible, mostly meaning it doesn’t come with the deuterocanonical books. Also be aware that its a protestant work and will comment on eg Luke 1:28 like this,

“4 The address, “favored one” (a perfect participle, Grk “Oh one who is favored”) points to Mary as the recipient of God’s grace, not a bestower of it. She is a model saint in this passage, one who willingly receives God’s benefits. The Vulgate rendering “full of grace” suggests something more of Mary as a bestower of grace, but does not make sense here contextually.”

There is publisher in the U.S. called The Jewish Publication Society. I got interested in their commentaries. Their Torah commentaries heavily explore the Hebrew underpinnings of their own translation of the Tanakh.

I mention this because it answers your question, but this is a fairly expensive set of books. The link to Net Bible looks really interesting.

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is based on the King James Bible, and it has cross references to an OT and NT dictionary of just such words. In the U.S., this book is common in Christian bookstores (not necessarily Catholic stores) and runs about $25. This is also a starting point.

Studying such terms is the essence of Jewish study of the Torah. As a result, the Jews have centuries-worth of commentaries, in such works as the Talmud (“study”). But, these are written in Hebrew or Aramaic. The JPS commentaries rely extensively on these ancient writings where relevant.

Your example of “echad” is a subject of the highest importance, as it is part of the Shema (Deut 6:4). “hear O Israel, the LORD is God, the LORD is one” which Jesus endorsed as the greatest commandment see Mk:29-30.

I’ve read one other Jewish commentary on the Shema itself. The term ‘echad’ is a reference to the future, when time has ended and all God’s people are united with Him in His divine presence. That is the largest sense in which God hands down the Shema, His love for His people and desire to be united with them. It is not that God is lacking in anything, but rather that it is His will be to so united.

‘echad’ is, at it were, the desire of all mankind for all time. The anticipation of this for us Catholics is our partaking of the Eucharist.

Try the “Catholic Study Bible” it has a lot of translations in the footnotes on each page

Crumpy – I would like to know the title/author of the commentary you consulted on the* Shema* (there is an aspect of the future in the Shema based on Zechariah 14:9)?

Here is the JPS Deuteronomy commentary on the *Shema *(by Tigay) (first the note – then the longer excurses):

the LORD is our God, the LORD alone Hebrew YHVH ʾeloheinu YHVH ʾaḥad, literally, “YHVH our God YHVH one.” For all of its familiarity, the precise meaning of the Shema is uncertain and it permits several possible renderings. The present translation indicates that the verse is a description of the proper relationship between YHVH and Israel: He alone is Israel’s God. This is not a declaration of monotheism, meaning that there is only one God. That point was made in 4:35 and 39, which state that “YHVH alone is God.” The present verse, by adding the word “our,” focuses on the way Israel is to apply that truth: though other peoples worship various beings and things they consider divine (see Comment to 3:24), Israel is to recognize YHVH alone.

This understanding of the Shema as describing a relationship with God, rather than His nature, has the support of Zechariah 14:9. According to Zechariah, what is now true of Israel will, in the future, be true of all humanity: “the LORD will be king over all the earth; on that day the LORD shall be one and His name one,” meaning that for all of humanity, YHVH and His name will stand alone, unrivaled; as Zechariah says earlier, “I will erase the very names of the idols from the land; they shall not be uttered any more” (13:2). YHVH will be recognized exclusively and His name alone will be invoked in prayer and oaths. In other words, Deuteronomy and Zechariah both use “one” in the sense of “alone,” “exclusively.” This understanding of the phrase is consistent with similar formulations of the same idea in Isaiah and Zephaniah: “The LORD alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isa. 2:11, 17); “For then I will make the peoples pure of speech, so that they all invoke the LORD by name and serve Him with one accord” (Zeph. 3:9). This interpretation of the Shema is appropriate for the beginning of the speech in which Moses explicates the first commandment of the Decalogue, “You shall have no other gods beside Me” (5:7). It means, in essence, what 6:13–14 say: Israel must revere, worship, and swear by YHVH alone.

This interpretation is not without difficulty. For further discussion, see Excursus 10.

Excursus 10: The Shema (6:4)

As noted in the Comment to 6:4, the precise meaning of the Shema is uncertain. The four Hebrew words “YHVH ʾeloheinu YHVH ʾeḥad” literally mean “YHVH our God YHVH one.” Since Hebrew does not have a present-tense verb meaning “is” to link subject and predicate, the link must be supplied by the listener or reader. Where to do so depends on context and is sometimes uncertain. Grammatically, “YHVH our God YHVH one” could be rendered in several ways, such as (1) “YHVH is our God, YHVH alone”; (2) “the LORD our God, the LORD is one” (lit., “YHVH our God, YHVH is one”); (3) “YHVH our God is one YHVH.”

The first possibility, which is followed in the NJPS translation, is based on Ibn Ezra and Rashbam. One difficulty with this interpretation is that Hebrew normally expresses “alone” with levad-, as in “You alone levadekha] are God of all the kingdoms of the earth” (2 Kings 19:15, 19; cf. v. 19 and Ps. 86:10). A few passages have been found in which ʾeḥad seems to have this meaning, but the usage is at best rare (see Comment to 6:4, endnote). There is also a serious syntactic difficulty with this interpretation: it interprets the words “YHVH our God” (YHVH ʾeloheinu) as a subject and a predicate, meaning “YHVH* is* our God.” Although this usage is grammatically possible (see 2 Chron. 13:10), it is rare in the Bible and absolutely anomalous in Deuteronomy, where YHVH ʾeloheinu occurs nearly two dozen times, consistently as a fixed phrase meaning “YHVH our God.” Still, this interpretation seems to be presupposed by Zechariah 14, as noted in the Comment to 6:4. If so, it is the only interpretation that was demonstrably held in biblical times.

The old and familiar translation “the LORD our God, the LORD is one” (2) makes the verse a statement about the nature of God Himself, namely that He is one. This might mean that He is unique (incomparable) or that He is indivisible, that He does not consist of multiple deities (the latter idea is also expressed by translation 3). This translation, however, is problematic because it leaves the second YHVH superfluous; “YHVH our God is one” would have sufficed.

Continued in next post

Continued from previous post

The third possibility, “YHVH our God is one YHVH”—and not many YHVHs—is not as tautologous as it sounds. Pagans referred to some gods by their name and place of worship, such as “Ishtar of Arbela,” and in some texts a god’s name appears several times, followed each time by a different place. For example, an Egyptian-Hittite treaty invokes both “the Re the lord of the sky” and “the Re of the town of Arinna”; similarly, it invokes “Seth the lord of the sky,” “Seth of Hatti,” and the Seths of ten other cities. This manner of speaking, based on the many sanctuaries of a deity, was also used by some Israelites. In some Hebrew inscriptions of the ninth-eighth centuries B.C.E. discovered in the Sinai, one refers to “YHVH of Samaria” and two others refer to “YHVH of Teman.” Some scholars believe that this manner of speech could imply that there were several deities of each name—several Res, Seths, or YHVHs—and that such a danger was developing in Israel. They believe that the Shema meant “YHVH our God is one YHVH,” not many YHVHs, and was intended to counter this kind of disintegration of YHVH into several deities. However, there is no other evidence that such a danger was developing in Israel and we do not even know whether non-Israelites really drew such inferences. Re was the sun, and the Egyptians could hardly have believed that there were two suns. An Egyptian inscription describing offerings to Amon-Re lists his name dozens of times, each time followed by one of his epithets, including local manifestations (e.g., “Amon-Re in Thebes … Amon-Re in Heliopolis”), but includes phrases recognizing that all these references are to a single deity (e.g., “Amon-Re in all the places where he wishes to be,” “Amon-Re in all his funerary temples,” “Amon-Re in all his names”). While it is possible that recognition of the unity behind all these names was limited to the intelligentsia and that the common folk thought of these as different deities, there is no evidence to that effect. Furthermore, such a danger seems foreign to the context of Deuteronomy 6, which is concerned with Israel’s relationship to God, not with His nature.

On the basis of present evidence, translation (1) seems the most likely, but it is not certain.
The Shema in Jewish Liturgy*

The instruction in 6:7, repeated in 11:18–19, to “speak of … these words … when you lie down and when you get up” was understood in halakhic exegesis to mean recite these words at the times of day when people lie down to sleep and when they arise in the morning. “These words” were identified as 6:4–9 and 11:13–21, the paragraphs in which this instruction is found. The instruction was fulfilled by reciting these two paragraphs, followed by Num. 15:37–41, as part of the morning and evening prayers. They are called the Keriʾat Shemaʿ (“Recitation of the Shema”), after the first word in verse 4. The practice, known since late Second Temple times, is still followed today.

In the liturgy, the three biblical paragraphs are preceded by blessings praising God for creating light and darkness and bringing on day and night, and for loving Israel and teaching it the Torah. They are followed by blessings praising Him for redeeming and protecting Israel. In rabbinic thought, the first paragraph functions preeminently as a declaration of allegiance to God—as the rabbis called it: “accepting the authority of the kingship of God” (lit., “the yoke of the kingship of Heaven”; Mish. Ber. 2:2). In the context of the liturgy, this is expressed by the addition, after verse 4, of the exclamation “Blessed be the glorious name of His *kingship *forever!” The second paragraph is regarded as “accepting the duty of performing the commandments” (Mish. Ber. 2:2). The blessing that follows the third paragraph begins with the declaration “True, firm, established, obligatory, proper, lasting, satisfactory, favored, agreeable, pleasing, respected, revered, fit, accepted, good and valid is this word” (i.e., this obligation that we have just recited). Many of the adjectives in this declaration are legal terms used in validating legal agreements. They give the recitation of the Shema the force of an oath, meaning: We solemnly affirm that the obligation we have just recited is valid and binding on us in every way. This makes of the Shema a daily affirmation of allegiance to God and to the covenant obligations that allegiance entails.

Although the Shema began as a declaration of allegiance rather than of monotheism, it became the preeminent expression of monotheism (yiḥud) in Judaism. This was undoubtedly fostered by its prominent location in Deuteronomy and its centrality in the liturgy, but it may have been due especially to the word ʾeḥad, which normally means “one.” This word made the Shema a suitable response to the many theological challenges that Jewish monotheism confronted throughout history: in the face of polytheism it meant that the Divine is one, not many; in the face of Zoroastrian and Gnostic dualism it meant one, not two; in the face of Christian trinitarianism it meant one, not three; and in the face of atheism, one and not none.

Continued in next post

Continued from previous post

The Shema’s fundamental significance in Judaism is reflected in the many roles it plays and the special way it is treated. The rules for its recitation are the very first subject dealt with in the Talmud (Tractate Berakhot). Its first verse must be recited with full concentration on its meaning. To prevent distraction one must cover one’s eyes when reciting it, and there are restrictions as to whom one may greet while reciting it. A child must be taught the Shema and Deuteronomy 33:4 immediately upon learning to speak. The first paragraph is recited in bed upon retiring and on one’s deathbed. Following the reported precedent of Rabbi Akiba, it has been recited before martyrdom from ancient times through the present. All of this is due to the fact that the Shema serves as the quintessential expression of the most fundamental belief and commitment of Judaism.

The Majuscule Letters in the Shema

In Hebrew texts the letters ʿayin in Shemaʿ (“hear”) and dalet in ʾeḥad (“alone”) are emphasized, usually by being enlarged. Various explanations have been given for this. The best known is that the two letters spell ʿed, “witness,” expressing the idea that in reciting the Shema one bears witness to God’s unity (Abudraham). Another possibility regarding the *dalet *is to prevent confusing it with the similar letter resh, which would produce the blasphemous reading ʾaḥer, “another,” instead of ʾeḥad, “one” (Midrash Aggadah).

Dear Bible Reader,

The JPS book that I have read through once (not studied over and over, etc.) is The Shema, Spirituality and Law in Judaism by Norman Lamm, JPS, 1998 hardcover, 2000 paperback.

I’ve got it right here.

A few snippets from Chap 6, page 39 (paperback edition)

“The Sifre…considers the eschatological realization: only in the Messianic era will all humankind acknowledge the oneness of God…whereas the Sifre sees a fragmented unity now and holds out hope for full unity only at the End of Days, the Talmud makes no mention of the distant future but maintains that divine unity is complete even in the present.”

Lamm by no means stops here, but has pages and pages of differing perspective on the first line of the Shema, and on the echad itself. As I review this, it is much deeper than I recall.

So, I was speaking from an outsider’s point of view, selecting the explanation that I could understand! The discussion is certain way over my head, but interesting in the parts that I can understand. Lamm’s discussion focuses briefly on how long one takes to recite the word echad, and whether the ephasis is on the first or second syllable – which apparently has philosophical consequences.

Lamm’s discussin validates almost the first part of your quotation, that the Shema, as familiar as it is, has a lot of varied explanations and possibilities. I’m a bit too tired to read your several posts, but have tried to respond to your question.

Thanks Crumpy! It sounds interesting and I appreciate your taking the time to answer my question.

I don’t know of an English translation of the Bible that comprehensively provides notes on the original Greek and Hebrew words. However, there are dictionaries of explaining the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew words of the Bible. Most of them are for scholars,but you could check Vine’s expository dictionary of New and Old Testament words (in various editions with varying titles), which has many short articles arranged by the English word used in translations. Furthermore I particularly like Dictionary of Biblical Theology, by Leon-Dufour. This has articles on Biblical words such as redemption and shepherd (though this may be moving away from your question), and so I will stop now. However, I see on that these books are still being sold.
The terms you specifically ask about though are much debated, and cannot be well covered in short footnotes.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit