Cover image for Introducing the Old Testament
Introducing the Old Testament
Coggins, R. J., 1929-
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
xiii, 161 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1350 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BS1140.2 .C64 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



New to this edition: Includes rewritten material on historical questions in chapter 3, 'Did it all happen?'. Material on the theme of liberation theology in chapter 7, 'The Old Testament as Liberation', is revised and updated, as is material in chapter 4, 'What does archaelogy contribute?'.Women and the Bible are now considered in a separate chapter, and the new edition takes into account the continuing growth in biblical studies by women scholars. Other smaller revisions are made throughout, and a much revised bibliography now includes the most important works of recent years.Study of the Old Testament has in the past been dominated by what is often called the 'historical-critical' method': careful analysis of individual books with great emphasis on historical context, and concern to isolate what was original, and (it was therefore assumed) most important. This volumenot only retains the values of adopting this traditional approach, but also outlines the alternative understandings of the Old Testament which have gained currency in recent years. Exploring these less conventional ways of looking at the Old Testament, Coggins introduces sociological andanthropological, feminist and liberation perspectives, and literary criticism. In this new edition, Coggins looks again at key issues in the light of recent scholarly developments, addressing contemporary debate on historical questions, radical developments in the field of archaeology, andconsidering women's readings in a separate chapter.This introductory volume offers students a concise and engaging discussion of the different perspectives available in Old Testament scholarship.

Author Notes

Reverend Richard Coggins is now retired, and was formerly Senior Lecturer in Old Testament Studies at King's College London

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The reader expecting to find the subjects usually associated with an introduction to the Old Testament (e.g., questions of authorship, unity, origin, and content of individual books of the Bible) will find instead a treatment of some of the disciplines and approaches scholars employ in the study of the Old Testament. Chief among them are philology and linguistic studies (in the form of text criticism), historical criticism, sociological studies (including archaeology, historically oriented sociological studies, and structuralism), liberation theologies (both Third World and feminist), literary criticism (both old and new), phenomenology (though the word is not used), and theology. The volume turns out, then, to be an introduction to some of the issues in the study of the Old Testament. Coggins handles these disciplines skillfully, providing illuminating examples, with an ease born of mastery that conceals the erudition behind it. Thus, the book is easily read by the nonspecialist. Its basic thrust is that although the older methods associated with historical criticism have been useful and remain valid, they are limited and should be supplemented by newer methods like structuralism and reader-response criticism and informed by liberation thought. Coggins shows that the appreciation of such materials as narrative contributes to understanding of the Bible; but he is aware that the theological stance of some readers will not permit them to appreciate the Bible simply as literature. His sensitivity to the presuppositions both of the discussed methods and of his readers is typical of the balance in this volume. P. L. Redditt Georgetown College

Table of Contents

Oxford Bible Seriesp. i
Oxford Bible Seriesp. ii
General Editors' Prefacep. v
Prefacep. vii
1 What is the Old Testament?p. 1
2 What Does It Mean?p. 8
3 Did It All Happen?p. 22
4 What Does Archaeology Contribute?p. 42
5 What Kind of Society Was Israel?p. 56
6 What is Man?p. 81
7 The Old Testament as Liberation?p. 98
8 What Kind of Literature?p. 116
9 What Kind of Religion?p. 130
10 Is a Theology Possible?p. 145
Index of Passages Citedp. 161
General Indexp. 164