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The Time between the Testaments

Most of the writers of the NT grew up in the world of “Second Temple Judaism,” the time between the temple’s reconstruction (516 b.c.) and its final destruction (a.d. 70). This period introduced changes into the political structure, culture, and religion of the OT world. Sources of Information Among the many resources about Second Temple Judaism, the […]

Introduction to the Prophetic Books

Introduction Mesopotamian texts indicate that long before Israel entered Canaan, other countries had prophets. These texts from Israel’s neighbors indicate that their prophets claimed to intercede for people to the gods, speak for the gods, criticize the people’s moral and ethical deficiencies on behalf of the gods, predict future events through special knowledge given by […]

Introduction to the Poetic and Wisdom Literature

Poetry is pervasive in the Hebrew Bible—the only books in the OT without any poetry are Leviticus, Ruth, Esther, Haggai, and Malachi (although 1 Kings and Nehemiah could perhaps be added to this list). In order to be a competent reader of Scripture, one must have some understanding of the nature and conventions of OT […]

Introduction to the Historical Books

The “Historical Books” of the OT, which come after the Pentateuch, tell the story of (1) Israel’s entry into the Promised Land of Canaan under Joshua; (2) Israel’s life in the land under the judges and the transition to kingship; (3) the division of the nation into two rival kingdoms (Israel and Judah) and life […]

Introduction to the Pentateuch

The Name of the Pentateuch The Pentateuch (Gk. “five-volumed”) consists of the first five books of the Bible, i.e., Genesis through Deuteronomy. The Hebrew term for it is torah (“law” or “instruction”), so this is how the NT refers to it (Gk. nomos, “law”). In the Hebrew Bible, the law is the first of the three major sections, […]

The Date of the Exodus

The following material summarizes some of the arguments for an early date (1446 b.c.) and a later date (c. 1260) of the exodus. The archaeological claims of each side have all been challenged by the other side, but the details of such responses are not included here. Arguments for an Early Date of the Exodus These […]

The Theology of the Old Testament

When it comes to describing “the theology of the Old Testament,” not everyone is convinced that there is a single theology represented in these diverse books. Many scholars have, however, tried to find a point of unity for all the books, often by proposing a single unifying theme, such as covenant, or the kingdom of God, or the […]