Reviews - What do customers think about Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction?
Excellent Introduction to the Old Testament Jun 12, 2008
I believe this book is probably the best overall introduction to the Old Testament. It provides historical context of the Near East. It covers all the bases and goes into scholarly detail. It goes through the Yawehist (Y)/Elohim (E)/Priestly sources and their different contributions to the composite text. It is an easy and enjoyable read as opposed to standard Old Testment "Texbooks". I was also delighted to find that a Professor at Yale uses in her Old Testament class. It is an open source class that you can watch over the Internet.
Overall, this book should be required reading for any introduction to the Old Testament. I highly recommend it.
A deep understanding of the Old Testament May 6, 2007
My reading of the Bible has had three levels of accompaniment. The first consists of the annotations of the New Oxford Annotated Bible, which tend to be brief explications of bits of the text that might otherwise be difficult to comprehend within the context of the writer. The second is Asimov's Guide to the Bible, which goes into somewhat greater detail and, in particular, is quite good at providing the necessary historical and geographic background.
The third is this book, which goes into considerable depth with not only the basic factual background, but also the cultural and literary background. Though written by a devout believer (a Catholic), he is not someone who believes in the literal truth of the Bible, but follows modern scholarship in teasing out the various strands of text: the J, E, and P source texts, in particular.
The book is divided into two sections and numerous chapters. The first section provides a general overview in four chapters. The first discusses the text itself, why we should read it, and its meaning for us today, and lesser issues such as the merits of various translations. Chapter 2 provides a general geographic and historical overview, discussing the peoples of that time and where and when they lived and prospered. The third chapter discusses Biblical archeology, how it works, and what sort of background it can provide. And Chapter 4 goes into the literary aspects of the writings, from the difficulties translators encounter to how the texts were considered at the time they were written down.
The bulk of the book, however, focuses on key portions of the text in turn, explaining their context and significance, and clarifying aspects that we moderns might find perplexing.
The author considers the book a textbook, and it would certainly be useful as the basis for a one- or two-semester course in the Old Testament. However, I found it very useful to read it on my own, providing a much deeper perspective than I could get just from reading the text, which, if nothing else, makes many assumptions about what I should already know.
Excellent Resource Jan 11, 2007
I am in an Old Testament class, and our professor recommended this book as a useful tag-along to his teaching. It truly is a great text, and I highly recommend it.
Reading the Old Testament - Good Study Source Nov 22, 2006
Excellant resource for Bible study. Historical, cultural and literary analysis. Some author bias evident.
Excellent Book Nov 3, 2006
Great book, well written, easy to read, and full of historical information without being tedious or boring.