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The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament Hardcover – December 8, 2000
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"This volume [The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Genesis--Deuteronomy, a precursor to this new, complete OT volume] provides Bible readers who have little knowledge of the ancient world an abundance of information on the sociocultural background of texts throughout the Pentateuch. The authors present the materials in a clear, concise, straightforward manner. . . . This book is a splendid tool that provides ready access to the cultural background of the books of the Pentateuch." (Themelios)
About the Author
Victor H. Matthews is dean of the College of Humanities and Public Affairs and professor of religious studies at Missouri State University (Springfield, Missouri). He has written several books on the Old Testament, including Manners and Customs in the Bible: An Illustrated Guide to Life in Bible Times, (with James Moyer) The Old Testament: Text and Context and (with Don C. Benjamin) The Social World of Ancient Israel.
Mark W. Chavalas is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin--La Crosse. He is also editor of Emar: The History, Religion, and Culture of a Syrian Town in the Late Bronze Age, (with John L. Hayes) New Horizons in the Study of Ancient Syria and (with K. L. Younger Jr.) Syria-Mesopotamia and the Bible.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book does lean toward a more Earth-bound discussion of the Bible. It shows how political, economic, and societal influences helped shape the way the books of the Bible were written (or spoken) and passed down through history. It shows how the writers, even though they were inspired by God, were still influenced by the times in which they lived.
This is not a book for the strict Fundamentalist Christian unless you want your beliefs challenged. But it's a wonderful book for the literary Christian who likes to engage in some healthy Biblical discussion.
The only thing that really disappointed me (and kept it out of the 5-star category) was that a few of the historical discussions are sometimes cut short. But I'm sure that was a balance between depth of research and final page count. Overall, this is definitely worth the money, and it will keep many people thinking critically about the Bible for quite some time.
Moreover, the book is very uneven. Some parts of the Old Testament are loaded with information, and other parts of the Old Testament are skipped entirely. And then you have paragraphs of scripture that have only one or two lines of comment that are not always helpful to the preacher who is looking for a bit more to give to the people.
Yet in some sections, Walton, Mathews and Chavalas deliver the goods. For example, the information in Genesis 12 about how difficult and unprecedented it would be for a man like Abram to leave everything behind to follow God was very helpful to me as I was preparing a sermon on this portion of scripture.
And I really appreciated the background information in Exodus 5-8 about how there was an Egyptian god that was overpowered in every area where Moses raised his staff.
Therefore, I am giving this book 4 stars, but really, you will need another book to give you the rest of what you will need when teaching through the Old Testament. Perhaps the IVP Dictionary of the OT Pentateuch and the IVP Dictionary of the OT Historical Books will do just fine. Or you may want to add the New Nelson's Manners and Customs of Bible Times.
Two main reasons to buy this book: 1) We are all very removed from the cultural perspective of the authors who wrote the Old Testament. This book helps bridge that gap by pointing out details we would consider irrelevant and giving context to other details we would otherwise misunderstand. 2) The text is highly readable and accessible for a wide selection of readers. The scholarship is very strong, fair, and thought-provoking, and furthermore, the editorial team did an excellent job ensuring that the information was presented in a clear and interesting manner. I've often found myself provoked to curiousity and ended up reading more than I originally intended to (and, no, that is not a habit for me with most reference books!).
A brief word, too, about the fact that an evangelical publisher is responsible for this book being published. First, every publishing house has biases, so to judge an evangelical publisher for publishing work sympathetic to evangelical tendencies is a bit harsh. Secondly, as one who reads a fair amount from a variety of sources, I have often found that IV Press books exhibit an uncommon level of integrity and fairness in the way their books are written. Thirdly, it is a logical fallacy to argue that a book does not contain truth or is inaccurate due to its origin. Have an open mind and judge the accuracy of the material on its own merits.
Really, this is a great text. I know several dozen men and women who regularly use this book in their work and who consider it very helpful for the purpose of presenting Scripture accurately. I strongly encourage you to buy and use this book.
Unfortunately my other resources led me down a wrong path on Micah 3. But this tool provided a couple of key insights that not only enhanced my own understanding, but helped me to reject a wrong assumption that some of my resources were propagating.
I know the author, Dr. Walton, from a class i audited by him at WCGS. He's an excellent man with a great grasp of the issues related to this book. I'm very glad we have this tool. It's too bad there are not more supporting photos, but I understand the publishers limitations on the size and number of volumes put a damper on that very issue. Still, it's a great tool and I use it regularly. Five stars!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Use for KINDLE (ebook) NOT handy! In table of contents you can only choose the books of the Bible not chapter in the books (see Kindle pictures). Read morePublished 14 days ago by John M. Boonaerts
This is a great commentary of the Old Testament, and the price was very nicePublished 17 days ago by Deb Possin
It's a lot about geography but not enough about customs, etc.Published 2 months ago by Shelley Brazelton
This one volume commentary on the Old Testament is a companion to the IVP Bible Background Commentary on the New Testament. Read more
First up it could only be read through a magnifying glass making the print large enough to read through my bifocals. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Michael A. Johnson