Mostly non-LDS resources for Old Testament Study: A handout from Hebrew Class

This is a list I gave my Hebrew class. The formatting didn’t quite come through, and I don’t have time to link everything, but you can download a properly formatted .pdf copy here. Enjoy.

Resources for Study of the Hebrew Bible

1. See FARMS suggested readings on the Old Testament at
http://farms.byu.edu/publications/readinglist/ot.php
a. It has links to Amazon.
b. New book prices can be compared at www.addall.com, www.bestbookbuys.com and used book prices at www.abe.com.
c. Other places to look for books are from www.cbd.com, www.eisenbrauns.com, and www.hendrickson.com.

2. Useful Commentaries
Commentaries aren’t for doctrine per se. Rather, they are to help us understand the text and show us connections we haven’t seen on our own.

a. Word Biblical Commentary- 58 volumes
i. BS 491.2 .W67
ii. Available in Logos format. www.logos.com
iii. A conservative but scholarly series that includes translation, bibliography, and commentary on linguistic, cultural, historical, and authorship questions.

b. New International Commentary on the Old Testament
i. Volumes not shelved together in BYU library.
ii. 19 Volumes so far.
iii. Similar to the WBC above.

c. The Anchor Bible Series
i. BS 192.2
ii. Extensive series of uneven value, with at least one commentary on each book plus reference volumes.
iii. Scholarly and less conservative.

3. History
a. Bright, John. A History of Israel. 4th ed. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000.
i. 3rd Ed. Available in BYU library. DS 121 .B72 1981
ii. Follows in the Albright tradition, takes a traditional view informed by archaeology and non-biblical texts. Technical.

b. Miller, James Maxwell, and John Haralson Hayes. A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. 1st ed. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986.
i. DS 117 .M6 1986
ii. A very balanced treatment. Less technical.

c. Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. Rev. ed. Washington, D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1999.
i. DS 117 .A66 1988
ii. An excellent brief work introducing the issues, questions, and history of Israel. Introductory.
iii. Available electronically on the Biblical Archaeology Review archive from www.logos.com

4. Related Texts
a. Pritchard, James Bennett, ed. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. 3d ed. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1969.
i. BS 1180 .P83 1969
ii. Frequently abbreviated and cited as ANET.

b. Hallo, William W., and K. Lawson Younger. The Context of Scripture. 3 vols. Leiden; New York: Brill, 1997.
i. BS 1180 .C66 1996
ii. Replaces ANET. Up-to-date translations, brief commentary, bibliography, and cross-references.
iii. Available electronically from www.logos.com

5. Introductions to the Hebrew Bible
All of these books will inform as well as challenge you. Read critically and thoughtfully.

a. Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004.
i. BS 1140.3 .C65 2004
ii. Available with or without CD-rom in Logos format.
iii. The most up-to-date treatment, Collins introduces the reader to the basic outline, history, and interpretation of the Hebrew bible, with valuable bibliography at the end of each chapter.
iv. Collins’ conclusions reflect a secular position in many cases, e.g. the non-existence of the patriarchs. However, many of the positions he takes have become the majority opinion. This book is valuable for getting an idea of the current scholarly climate on such questions, but questions is what it will leave you with.

b. Bandstra, Barry L. Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1995.
i. Updated version at BS 1140.2 .B32 2004
ii. 1995 version available free on-line, at www.hope.edu/academic/religion/bandstra/RTOT/RTOT.HTM
iii. This is primarily useful for its availability. Same caveats as above.

c. Harrison, Roland K. Introduction to the Old Testament. London: Tyndale Press, 1970.
i. BS 1140.2 .H35
ii. Though somewhat outdated, this volume remains a very thorough treatment to the history of interpretation of the Hebrew bible.

6. Journals
a. LDS journals that include articles touching on the Hebrew Bible include
i. BYU Studies,
1. byustudies.byu.edu
2. BX 8605.1 .B76b
3. Many articles are available to download for free.
ii. The FARMS Review
1. farms.byu.edu
2. BX 8622 .R325x
iii. Journal of Book of Mormon Studies.
1. farms.byu.edu
2. BX 8622 .J826

b. Non-LDS Journals
i. Journal of Biblical Literature (JBL)
1. http://www.sbl-site.org/Publications/Publications_Journals_JBL.aspx
2. BS 410 .J7
ii. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (JSOT)
1. http://jot.sagepub.com/
2. BS 410 .J68
iii. Vetus Testamentum (VT)
1. http://www.brill.nl/m_catalogue_sub6_id7581.htm
2. BS 410 .V45
iv. Catholic Biblical Quarterly (CBQ)
1. http://cba.cua.edu/CBQ.cfm
2. BS 410 .C37x
v. Bible Review (BR)
1. www.bib-arch.org
2. Electronic archive available from www.logos.com
3. BS 410 .B58
vi. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR)
1. www.bib-arch.org
2. Electronic archive available from www.logos.com
3. BS620 .A1 B52

7. Cultural and other Reference Books
a. Freedman, David Noel, ed. Anchor Bible Dictionary. 6 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1992. 7200 pages.
i. BS 440 .A54 1992
ii. Available electronically from www.logos.com
iii. BYU Lib. has an electronic copy at the Humanities Reference Desk.

b. Vaux, Roland de. Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1997. (First published in the 50’s.)
i. DS 112 .V313 1997
ii. Cultural and social institutions of Israel.

c. King, Philip J., and Lawrence E. Stager. Life in Biblical Israel. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.
i. DS 112 .K48 2001
ii. Cultural and social institutions of Israel, with pictures, archaeological and ANE background.

d. Sasson, Jack, ed. Civilizations of the Ancient Near East. 2 Volumes. Hendrickson, 1995.
i. DS 57 .C55 1995 (4 volume Scribner edition.)
ii. 2-volume edition is $99 at www.cbd.com

14 thoughts on “Mostly non-LDS resources for Old Testament Study: A handout from Hebrew Class

  1. At Department request, we’re using a relatively new one, Pratico and Van Pelt Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar. When I was here, we used Weingren, which in retrospect was pretty awful. I like Lambdin, and they’ve taken to using Lambdin here, but the problem is that it gets very low student ratings. Hence, giving BBHG a try…

  2. Everett Fox has an excellent and very approachable modern translation with commentary on the Pentateuch called _The Five Books of Moses_. For OT noobs, I highly recommend it. Also available from logos.com.

    If you get through that and want more, then read Nahum Sarna’s _Understanding Genesis_ and _Exploring Exodus_.

    Abraham Heschel’s _The Prophets_ would then be the next stop, usually available in large libraries.

    The Jewish Publication Society also has a set of Torah Commentaries for all five books of Moses, which are usually available at large libraries, theyre rather expensive. They have published some other commentaries on books in the Hebrew Bible like Esther and Jonah, but none of the Prophets. Not for noobs.

  3. A bit of commentary on the literary forms is always helpful. I like Alter’s The Art of Biblical Narrative and The Art of Biblical Poetry. Both are slim and easy to digest and really changed how I read texts when I first read them. He also has a translation of the Torah but I think I like Everett Fox’s better myself.

  4. Ben, I think a great idea for a future post would be something along the lines of: “Top 5 misunderstandings that traditional Christianity and Judaism has about the Old Testament.” I’m thinking, for example, some of Joseph Smith’s explanations of the meaning of “create” (bara?) and other examples using misunderstandings of Hebrew. I think that would be fascinating.

  5. Great list, Ben.

    You may be interested to know that BYU Studies is working on updating its OT bibliography. I had three items in the last one, but I gave them a dozen items for this update. So my guess is it should be substantially expanded from the original version.

  6. Hi Ben,

    How has the Practico and Van Pelt gone over? When I taught Biblical Hebrew here at Brown last year I used the 1995 Seow Grammar. It’s not ideal, but I think it’s pretty decent for an intro class.

  7. Regarding #5, one of the major mistakes of theology, that can be disproven internally from the Genesis text alone, is the Fall of Adam wasnt the Lord’s intention or was an accident, or in other words, it was a bad thing. Another is the inability to reconcile the two different Creation accounts in Genesis. Another is the typical Christian reading of the book of Job.

    To be fair, another fun topic would be “Top 5 misunderstandings Mormons have about the OT”. One of which would be the entire Creation story and Adam & Eve and the Fall. Standard Mormon views have diverged significantly from the traditional text, largely as a result of the Temple endowment version (e.g., Eve eating the apple was a deliberate and wise decision), and even ignore their own latter-day revelations (e.g., D&C 77:12) when it comes to interpreting the Creation accounts.

  8. I would say that it is relatively obvious that the fall of mankind happened long before the Fall of Adam. The contention over the plan of salvation, war in heaven, fall of lucifer and company doesn’t fit well with the Genesis 2-3 account, which seems like a nursery school story by comparison.

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