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The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament Hardcover – December 8, 2000
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"Users of Craig Keener's IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament will be delighted to have a companion volume on a period both more remote in time and exotic in cultural background. . . . This volume . . . fills a need not addressed by any other book I know. It will open the eyes of lay readers to the vast and still largely untapped resources of ancient Near Eastern archaeology and texts for the understanding of the Old Testament. I predict a warm and enthusiastic reception for the book." (Harry A. Hoffner Jr., Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago)
"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
John H. Walton (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School. Previously he was professor of Old Testament at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for twenty years. Some of Walton's books include The Lost World of Adam and Eve, The Lost World of Scripture, The Lost World of Genesis One, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, The Essential Bible Companion, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis and The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (with Victor Matthews and Mark Chavalas). Walton's ministry experience includes church classes for all age groups, high school Bible studies and adult Sunday school classes, as well as serving as a teacher for "The Bible in 90 Days." John and his wife, Kim, live in Wheaton, Illinois, and have three adult children.
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.
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.