Cover image for Understanding the Old Testament
Understanding the Old Testament
Anderson, Bernhard W.
Personal Author:
Abridged fourth edition.
Publication Information:
Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall, [1998]

Physical Description:
xix, 635 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
Maps of the Ancient Near East and Palestine on endpapers.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BS1197 .A63 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This is a study of the Old Testament, examined from historical, archaeological, literary and religious perspectives. The book traces the story of the people of Israel from Exodus in the time of Moses to the dawn of the Common Era. It considers the importance of literary criticism and other methods for understanding the literature of ancient Israel. It also examines recent archaeological discoveries which throw light on the period.

Author Notes

Bernhard W. Anderson (Ph.D. Yale University) is Professor of Old Testament Theology Emeritus of Princeton Theological Seminary
Steven Bishop (Ph.D. Boston University) is Lecturer in Old Testament at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas
Judith H. Newman (Ph.D. Harvard University) is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto with a joint appointment to the Department of Religion

Table of Contents

Illustrations and Aidsp. x
Prefacep. xv
Introductionp. 1
The Story of a Peoplep. 1
The Hebrew Bible and the Old Testamentp. 3
The Story of the Biblep. 7
Part I The Creation of a Peoplep. 17
1 The Beginnings of Israelp. 18
The Nature of the Traditionp. 19
The Oral Traditionp. 22
The Prologue to the Exodusp. 25
Population Unrest in the Fertile Crescentp. 28
The God of Israel's Ancestorsp. 38
The Descent into Egyptp. 42
The Oppression in Egyptp. 44
2 Liberation from Bondagep. 48
The Role of Mosesp. 50
The Disclosure of God's Namep. 54
The Contest with Pharaohp. 60
The Victory at the Seap. 68
3 Covenant in the Wildernessp. 76
Guidance in the Wildernessp. 77
The Covenant at Sinaip. 82
Covenant and Lawp. 86
The Breaking of the Covenantp. 94
The Mosaic Faithp. 98
4 The Promised Landp. 101
A Land Flowing with Milk and Honeyp. 102
Forty Years of Wanderingp. 104
Detour via Transjordanp. 108
The Invasion of Canaanp. 111
Israel's Conquest of Canaan: The Deuteronomistic Viewp. 119
An Alternative View of the Conquest in Joshua and Judges 1p. 122
The Nature of the Israelite Occupationp. 125
The Formation of the Tribal Confederacyp. 131
5 The Formation of an All-Israelite Epicp. 139
From Tradition to Literaturep. 141
The Scope of the Old Epic Narrativep. 143
Overview of Israel's Epic Narrativep. 146
The Primeval Historyp. 146
The Ancestral Historyp. 153
The People's Historyp. 163
6 The Struggle Between Faith and Culturep. 167
Temptations of Canaanite Culturep. 168
Leaders in Crisisp. 178
The Decline of the Confederacyp. 186
The Last Judge of Israelp. 190
Part II Israel Becomes Like the Nationsp. 195
7 The Throne of Davidp. 196
A Time of International Favorp. 197
Israel's Rustic Kingp. 198
David, Architect of the Israelite Statep. 204
Solomon in All His Gloryp. 217
New Horizons of Faithp. 225
8 Prophetic Troublers of Israelp. 228
The Background of Prophecyp. 230
The Divided Kingdomp. 234
One Prophet Against Four Hundredp. 246
Elijah, the Tishbitep. 248
Elisha and the Closing Years of the Omri Dynastyp. 256
9 Fallen is the Virgin Israelp. 257
The Revolution of Jehup. 258
The Age of Jeroboam IIp. 261
The Herdsman from Tekoap. 267
The Prophecy of Hoseap. 275
The Fall of Samariap. 288
10 Judah's Covenant with Deathp. 290
The Reign of Uzziahp. 291
The Book of Isaiahp. 294
Micah, A Rural Prophetp. 309
Isaiah's Later Careerp. 312
11 The Rediscovery of Mosaic Torahp. 324
Differing Views of the Covenantp. 325
Manasseh, the Villain of Judahp. 326
New Outbursts of Prophecyp. 331
The Deuteronomic Reformationp. 338
The Book of Deuteronomyp. 342
The Renewal of the Covenantp. 345
Inadequacies of the Reformp. 349
Habakkuk's Watchtower of Faithp. 353
Faith and Nationalismp. 354
12 The Doom of the Nationp. 355
The Suffering Prophetp. 356
The Book of Jeremiahp. 356
In the Reign of Jehoiakimp. 360
Jeremiah's Confessionsp. 367
In the Reign of Zedekiahp. 373
Beyond the Day of Doomp. 381
Part III The Covenant Community Is Renewedp. 387
13 By the Waters of Babylonp. 388
The Jewish Dispersionp. 389
Ezekiel the Priestp. 389
Lamentation, Mourning, and Woep. 396
The Promise of a New Beginningp. 402
Life Under Captivityp. 405
Preservation of the Traditionp. 408
The Priestly Point of Viewp. 411
14 The Dawn of a New Agep. 425
New World Horizonsp. 425
The Poems of Second Isaiahp. 429
A Herald of Good Tidingsp. 432
The Creator and Redeemerp. 436
A Light to the Nationsp. 441
The Servant of YHWHp. 444
Victory Through Sufferingp. 451
The Servant and the Messiahp. 454
The Continuing Isaiah Traditionp. 455
The Book of Isaiah as a Wholep. 457
15 A Kingdom of Priestsp. 460
Cyrus' Edict of Liberationp. 461
The Work of the Chroniclersp. 463
Zerubbabel, the Branchp. 468
Reconstruction and Reformp. 474
Ezra, the Architect of Judaismp. 479
Nehemiah's Terms as Governorp. 483
The Law and the Prophetsp. 485
16 The Praises of Israelp. 490
The Book of Psalmsp. 492
Israel at Worshipp. 498
Israel's Pilgrimage Festivalsp. 508
The Book of Psalms as a Wholep. 516
17 The Beginning of Wisdomp. 519
The Wisdom of the Eastp. 519
Israel's Wisdom Literaturep. 520
An Anthology of Proverbsp. 525
The Wise and the Foolishp. 532
The Skepticism of Ecclesiastesp. 533
The Book of Jobp. 539
From Despair to Faithp. 545
18 The Unfinished Storyp. 553
Tensions Within Judaismp. 554
The Hellenistic Erap. 561
The Evolution of Wisdomp. 563
The Resistance Movementp. 567
The Apocalypse of Danielp. 573
The Kingdom That Is God'sp. 576
Beyond the Hebrew Biblep. 587
Israel's Pilgrimagep. 597
Comprehensive Chronological Chartp. 598
Selected Bibliographyp. 605
Author Indexp. 643
Subject Indexp. 646