Most helpful positive review
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Modern, balanced, informative, attractive
on January 24, 2006
Coogan is one of the leading Bible experts, a co-editor of the Oxford Bible Dictionary with Metzger. His point of view is balanced, educated, a "real teacher's" approach.
The "Old Testament" book is a nicely done textbook. The maps reflect accurately the book discussion, the diagrams are clear and not very crowded, and the references at the end of each chapter are the best starting points for further exploration of specific topics. As the title indicates, this is an introduction (read: university freshman/sophomore level) to the history of the Old Testament, with an equal discussion of the literary merits of the book(s). The book can easily be read on one's own, because it is clearly written, and well organized. The chapters of the book are set up "historically", and there is an excellent discussion of the actual history/archaeology matching the Old Testament texts. The archaeological support for the Old Testament is superb; it makes you see the OT from a deeper, different perspective. I especially liked the fact that the book is balanced, and does not "interpret" theological points (that's up to each reader, I think).
The book is also very attractive, the print size reads very easily. To get the most out of the book, one would probably need a modern Old Testament translation (the Oxford NRSV with the Apocrypha would be ideal, or the Harper/Collins edition). I can easily see the book becoming a standard university textbook, just like Ehrman's New Testament textbook.
As much as I liked reading the book, I would love having a few more appendices. For example, a (brief) discussion of the Septuagint, possibly some commentary/interpretation from rabbinic sources, possibly discussion of the Qumran texts.