- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Zondervan; Abridged edition (July 8, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0310291488
- ISBN-13: 978-0310291480
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Introducing the Old Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message Paperback – Abridged, July 8, 2012
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Several distinctives set this volume apart from other introductions to the Old Testament: ? It is thoroughly evangelical in its perspective. ? It emphasizes special introductionthe study of individual books. ? It interacts in an irenic spirit with the historical-critical method. ? It features high points of research history and representative scholars rather than an exhaustive treatment of past scholarship. ? It deals with the meaning of each book not in isolation, but in a canonical context. ? It probes the meaning of each book in the setting of its culture.
With an eye on understanding the nature of Old Testament historiography, An Introduction to the Old Testament offers the reader a solid understanding of three key issues: historical background, literary analysis, and theological message -- Publisher --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Author
Tremper Longman III (Ph.D., Yale University) is professor of Old Testament at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He is the coauthor of Introduction to the Old Testament as well as many other books and articles --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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They wrote in the Introduction, “The genre of introduction has a well-established place in the field of Old Testament studies… It is… the purpose of this introduction… to acquaint the reader with information that is important to know in order to read the books of the Old Testament with understanding… In the twentieth century the introduction continued its evolution along the lines of the development of the discipline as a whole. Thus after Wellhausen introduced the documentary hypothesis, all succeeding introductions had to take his theory into account… The same is true with later developments, including form criticism… mainstream introductions agree in their acceptance of critical methodology… Protestant scholarship was mainstream because ever since the early part of the nineteenth century this approach to the text controlled most of the large churches and virtually every major academic post… Nonetheless, there was still a small but determined group of conservative Protestant scholars who were active in the field and produced Old Testament introductions… A characteristic of conservative scholarship… is an apologetic interest… conservative scholars have felt it necessary to direct much of their discussion toward combating the historical-critical method and in particular a source analysis of the Pentateuch.” (Pg. 17-18)
They continue, “Our knowledge of [Jesus’] resurrection comes from the Bible, which purports to be God’s Word and thus claims to be trustworthy. The Gospels present themselves as historical, though theological and artistic, accounts of the resurrection. The book of Joshua… also presents itself as an account of the past acts of God to save his people. On what basis… would we accept the teaching of the Gospels and reject the teaching of Joshua? Thus to suspect or reject the historical facticity of the razing of Jericho does indeed raise an obstacle to faith. The historicity of the historical books of the Old Testament is important…” (Pg. 22)
In the chapter on Genesis, they note, “The issue of the authorship of Genesis is inescapably intertwined with the question of the composition and origin of the entire Pentateuch… This issue is one that has severely divided conservative scholars from others. The focus of debate… is over Mosaic authorship… In fairness, it must be said that conservative Christians have been two quick to distance themselves from the possibility of sources and too closed to any evidence of significant post-Mosaic activity. The sharp division between conservatives and others has recently been softened by a stronger emphasis on the thematic unity of the Pentateuch by critics, while conservatives have been less hesitant to speak of sources.” (Pg. 38-39)
They point out, “In a strict sense, the Torah is anonymous. Nowhere do the five books explicitly or implicitly claim that Moses is their exclusive author… Although a connection is never specifically made between Moses and the present Torah (in the Torah), there are a number of references to his writing activity… God commands his to record certain historical events (Ex 17:14; Num 33:2), and laws (Ex 24:4; 34:27), as well as a song (Deut 31:22; see Deut 32). While Moses is not identified as the author of much of the Torah, the text does witness to the fact that he was the recipient of revelation and a witness to redemptive acts. According to later biblical testimony, there was a book of the Law that was associated with Moses’ name (Josh 1:7-8). Late in the history of Israel, the Israelites could refer to a ‘Book of Moses” (2 Chron 25:4; Ezra 6:18; Neh 13:1). These passages provide strong intrabiblical data for a Mosaic writing, while not being specific about is shape or scope. It is also clear that Jesus and the early church connected much, if not all, of the Torah with Moses (Mt 19:7, 22:24; Mk 7:10, 12:26; Jn 1:17, 5:46, 7:23). This evidence has led to the belief that Moses wrote the Torah.
“Nonetheless, this statement is always qualified by the admission that certain passages were added after Moses’ death. The most obvious of these so-called post-Mosaica is Deuteronomy 34, the narrative of the death of Moses… most conservatives agree that it was a later addition, possibly added by Joshua… though more probably at a later date. Other passages that show indication of post-Mosaic origins include Genesis 11:31, which associates Abraham’s Ur with the Chaldeans (a tribe that dominated southern Mesopotamia in the first millennium) and Genesis 14:14, which mentions Dan, an ancient city known by this name only much later… there are also passages that are awkward if they are ascribed to Moses… For instance, Number 12:3 refers to Moses as the most humble man who ever lived, scarcely a statement that the world’s most humble man would make about himself.” (Pg. 39) Later, they add, “Exodus witnesses to Mosaic writing activity explicitly in three chapters: Exodus 17:4, 24:4, 34:4, 27-29.” (Pg. 58)
They continue, “Since there are what appear to be obvious later additions, many conservatives speak in terms of the ‘essential authorship’ of Moses. This expression vigorously affirms Moses as the author of the Torah, while also leaving open the possibility of later canonical additions. Along with this, it must also be admitted that sources have been used in the composition of the Torah. The sources are rarely explicitly cited (see Num 21:14, the ‘Book of the Wars of the Lord,’ which was likely a post-conquest document, and Exodus 24:7, ‘the Book of the Covenant’), but neither the biblical text nor the traditional doctrine of Scripture are contradicted by a widespread use of sources on the part of the biblical author.” (Pg. 40)
They suggest, “Recent years have witnessed a surge of skepticism about the documentary hypothesis… In the first place, there is doubt concerning the criteria … used to separate the sources. For instance, the use of different divine names (particularly Elohim and Yahweh) may result from stylistic practice rather than the presence of sources.” (Pg. 45) They continue, “Among critical approaches to the question of the composition of the Pentateuch, the documentary hypothesis has held dominance for over two hundred years … It has been viewed with tremendous confidence as one of the ‘assured results of criticism’ for over a century (since the work of Wellhausen). Surprisingly, it is today only loosely held as problems are recognized, alternatives given, and scholarly energy us expended in other directions. It is easy to predict that the next decade will witness some defense of the method, but these will likely be dying gasps of an approach whose relevance is no longer seen.” (Pg. 47)
They argue, “Two biblical texts are relevant to the date of the Exodus. The first and most direct statement if 1 Kings 6:1… This passage places the Exodus 480 years before Solomon’s fourth regnal year, for which scholars are able to give an absolute date of 967 B.C. The date of the Exodus is then 1447 B.C. or thereabouts, allowing for the possibility of a rounded-off number… The second relevant passage is Judges 11:26… the king of Ammon … is attempting to take back the area of Moab that he claims is his because Moab had previously been under Ammonite control. In response, Jephthah claims that Israel had held this area since they entered the land three hundred years before, this placing the end of the wanderings three hundred years before his time. As we work our way back from this text to the time of the Exodus, we must admit that the evidence is not as compelling as the 1 Kings passage, since we are not as sure about Jephthah’s date as we are about Solomon’s. A close study of the chronological notices in the book of Judges allows the interpreter to arrive at an approximate date for Jephthah’s time period. The end result is that the Judges passage collaborates the 1 Kings passage in placing the Exodus in the fifteenth century B.C.” (Pg. 59)
They acknowledge about Numbers, “it must be said that Moses likely utilized source material in his composition of the book. The census accounts in Numbers 1 and 26, while contemporary, surely had a life prior to and independent of the book of Numbers. It is also possible that the Balaam story was an independent narrative incorporated into Moses’ work. This analysis of Numbers is in keeping with our characterization of the Pentateuch as a whole. That is, it is essentially Mosaic but includes source material and glosses. After all this is said, we must remember that we cannot be precise or certain about our reconstruction of the composition of pentateuchal books. It is fruitless to speculate about it more carefully in the manner of most source criticism.” (Pg. 84)
They propose, “There was good reason to suggest that Josiah’s lawbook was either Deuteronomy itself or some earlier-alternate edition of material that eventually became the book... Features of Josiah’s response to the lawbook suggest his acting under the influence of laws largely unique to Detueronomy. (1) Deuteronomy 12 required the destruction of Canaanite high places and conducting worship at a centralized sanctuary, and Josiah follows these provision (2 Ki 23:4-20). (2) … Passover under Josiah was observed in accord with the specifications of Deuteronomy 16 instead of those in Exodus 12 (2 Ki23:21-22). (3) Deuteronomy also enjoined the elimination of mediums, spiritists, and diviners from Israel [Deut 18:14-22]… Josiah removed the mediums and spiritists in order to fulfill the requriements of the lawbook (2 Ki 23:24)… (4) The book presented to Josiah contained a series of curses (2 Ki 22:13, 19), probably those in Deuteronomy 28. (5) Deuteronomy requires of kings in Israel that they rule in accordance with a copy of the law (Deut 17:18-19), precisely the action attributed to Joseph (2 Ki 22:11, 23:2-3)… (Pg/ 93-94)
They note, “There is little doubt from … the biblical text itself that the Exodus and conquest should be set in the second half of the fifteenth century and the early fourteenth… However, many scholars argue that this ‘early date’ cannot be reconciled with the archaeological record, and instead they assign a date for the Exodus to the mid-thirteenth century (c. 1250 B.C., the ‘late date’)… The main difficulty in identifying these [archaeological] destruction levels with the Israelite invasion, however, is the biblical text itself… The development of hundreds of new settlements in Israel about 1200 B.C. favors a late date of the conquest… Today’s archaeology too often becomes tomorrow’s footnote about earlier mistaken efforts. One can only hope that further excavation will eventually put the question of date beyond reasonable doubt.” (Pg. 110-111)
They acknowledge, “It is clear that the author(s)-compiler(s) of Kings used a wide variety of sources. The ‘annals of the kings of Judah’ (e.g., 1 Kings 14:29; 15:7; 2 Kings 8:23; 12:29; 14:18; 24:5), ‘the annals of the kings of Israel’ (e.g., 1 Kings 14:19; 15:31; 2 Kings 1;18; 10:34; 13:8, 12), and ‘the book of the acts of Solomon’ (1 Kings 11:41) appear to have been the major sources. The fact that the writer refers his reader to these other materials is an indication that he was consciously selective about his material and was not attempting to be comprehensive… These source citations are genre signals that the writer of Kings intends that his work be understood to be as historical as his sources.” (Pg. 155)
Of Chronicles, they observe, “The author-compiler of Chronicles did not choose to identify himself, so we are left to drawing inferences about him from what he wrote. He clearly lived in the postexilic period since he reports the decree of Cyrus (2 Chron 36:22-23)… The Chronicler made use of a wide range of sources both biblical and extrabiblical, He quotes at length from Samuel and Kings and uses material from a number of other biblical books. The form in which the Chronicler cites these other books is occasionally at variance with the Masoretic Text… the Chronicler… sends his readers largely to a variety of prophetic writings (e.g., ‘the records of Samuel the seer, the records of Nathan the prophet, and the records of Gad the seer’; 1 Chr 29:29), ‘the records of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer that deal with genealogies’ (2 Chr 12:15), ‘the annotations of the prophet ‘Iddo’ (13;22).” (Pg. 170-172)
They note, “The division of Isaiah at least into two major parts attained the status of one of the assured results of modern critical study of the Bible early in the twentieth century. However, not all were persuaded. Although they were a minority, many scholars from both Jewish… and Christian … viewpoints continued to defend the unity of the book… For evangelical Christians who held to the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture, two additional arguments were also important: the attribution of the book to Isaiah ben Amoz (1:1), and the citations in the New Testament that spoke of the entire book as from the hands of Isaiah.” (Pg. 271)
Of the Book of Daniel, they wrote, “While critical thought dates the prophecies to the second-century B.C., it is becoming increasingly popular to date the stories of the first six chapters to an earlier period usually sometime during the third century B.C. The predominant signal for this dating is the positive attitude toward monarchs like Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4…. In summary, there are two reasons for moving away from a sixth-century date for the book. The first is the opinion that such exact prophecy is not possible… Second… there are the supposed historical errors. These are difficult and will be dealt with below. There we will see that reasonable, though not certain, harmonizations are possible. This chapter will proceed on the basis of the view that Daniel, a sixth-century figure, was the subject that author of the book… This view does not rule out the possibility that some later unnamed disciples framed his speeches or even added some or all of the third-person stories. However, it does exclude the idea that the predictive prophecies were given ‘after the fact.’” (Pg. 332)
This is an excellent, solidly “conservative” though not closed-minded commentary.