Old Testament Must-Reads

The book recommendations list below is here for the benefit of the more scholarly among us.  The list contains all the books that we consider necessary for a scholarly understanding of each of the subjects.  These should only be read by the discerning reader and many run contrary to evangelical positions.  These are not for beginning study.

General Introduction

History, Religion and Historiography of Ancient Israel

Aharoni, Yohanan.  The Archaeology of the Land of Israel (tr. Anson F. Rainey; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978).

*Bright, John.  A History of Israel (3rd ed.; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1981).

*Davies, Philip.  In Search of Ancient Israel (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993).

Dearman, John A.  Religion and Culture in Ancient Israel (Louisville: Hendrickson, 1992).  [BM/170/.D32/1992]

*Dever, W. G.  “Philology, Theology, and Archaeology: What Kind of History of Israel Do We Want, and What is Possible?” in The Archaeology of Israel: Constructing the Past, Interpreting the Present (ed. Neil Asher Silberman and David B. Small; JSOTSup 237; Sheffield: Sheffield, 1997) 290-310.

Halpern, B.  “The Construction of the Davidic State: An Exercise in Historiography,” in The Origins of the Ancient Israelite States (ed. Volkmar Fritz and Philip R. Davies; JSOTSup 228; Sheffield: Sheffield, 1996) 44-75. 

Haran, Menahem.  Temples and Temple-Service in Ancient Israel (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1985).  [BM/656/.H28/1985]

Jagersma, H.  A History of Israel in the Old Testament Period (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983).  [DS/117/.J2513/1983]

Miller, J. Mazwell and John H. Hayes.  A History of Ancient Israel and Judah (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986).  [DS/117/.H36/1986]

Niditch, Susan.  Ancient Israelite Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).  [BS/1192.5/.N53/1997]

Provan, Iain.  “Ideologies, Literary and Critical: Reflections on Recent Writing on the History of Israel,” JBL 114/4 (1995) 585-606.

Redford, Donal B.  Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992).  [DT/82.5/.P19/R43/1992]

*Thompson, T. L.  “Historiography of Ancient Palestine and Early Jewish Historiography: W. G. Dever and the Not So New Biblical Archeology,” in The Origins of the Ancient Israelite States (ed. Volkmar Fritz and Philip R. Davies; JSOTSup 228; Sheffield: Sheffield, 1996) 26-43.

Van Der Woude, S. (ed).  The World of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989).  [BS/1140.2/.O93/1989]

*Van Seters, John.  In Search of History: Historiography in the Ancient World and the Origins of Biblical History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983).

Wellhausen, J.  A Sketch of the History of Israel and Judah (3rd ed; London: Adam and Charles Black, 1891).  [DS/121/.W462]

II. Historical and Literary Backgrounds 

Alt, Albrecht.  Essays on Old Testament History and Religion (tr. R. A. Wilson; Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1966).  [BS/1188/.A433]

Bottéro, Jean.  Mesopotamia: Writing, Reasoning and the Gods (tr. Zainab Bahrani and Marc Van De Mieroop; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).  [DS/69.5/.B6813/1992]

*Hallo, William and William Kelly Simpson.  The Ancient Near East: A History (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971).

Hoerth, Alfred J., Gerald L. Mattingly & Edwin M. Yamauchi, eds.  Peoples of the Old Testament World (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994).

*Jacobsen, Thorkild.  The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1976).  [BL/2350/I7/J3/1976]

*Matthews, Victor Harold and Don C. Benjamin.  Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East (2nd ed.; New York: Paulist Press, 1997).

*Oppenheim, A. L.  Ancient Mesopotamia (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964).

*Pritchard, James Bennet.  The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973, 1958).

Walton, John.  Ancient Israelite Literature in its Cultural Context: A Survey of Parallels Between Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989).

Wilson, John A.  The Culture of Ancient Egypt (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951).  [LD.2/W694a]

Wiseman, D. J.  Peoples of Old Testament Times (Oxford: Clarendon, 1973).

III. Language

Barr, James.  Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1968).  [PJ/4544/.B37]


Bergsträsser, G.  Introduction to the Semitic Languages (tr. Peter T. Daniels; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1983), pp. 2-24; 50-64.

Black, M.  “The Biblical Languages,” CHB 1: 1-11.

Bodine, Walter, ed.  Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1992).

Brovender, C. et. al. “Hebrew Language,” Encyc. Judaica 16: 1560-1607.

Diringer, D.  “The Biblical Scripts,” CHB 1: 11-29.

Kutscher, Eduard Yechezkel.  A History of the Hebrew Language (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1982).

Rabin, Ch. M.  “Semitic Languages,” Encyc. Judaica 14: 1149-57.

Sáenz-Badillos, Angel.  A History of the Hebrew Language (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994).  skip chapters 7-8. [PJ/4545/.S2313/1993

IV. The Hebrew Bible and Textual Criticism

Goshen-Gottstein, Moshe.  “Editions of the Hebrew Bible – Past and Future,” in Sha’arei Talmon (ed. Michael Fishbane and Emanuel Tov; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1992) 221-43.


Jellico, S.  The Septuagint and Modern Study (Oxford: Clarendon, 1968).

Tov, Emanuel.  Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1992).

_____.  The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1981).

*VanderKam, James C. The Dead Sea Scrolls Today (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994).

Yeivin, I.  Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979).

V. Canon

Anderson, G. W.  “Canonical and Non-Canonical,” CHB 1: 113-59.

*Beckwith, Roger.  The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and its Background in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985).

Davies, Philip. Scribes and Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures (Louisville: Westmisnter/John Knox, 1998).  [BS/1135/.D38/1998]

Rowley, H. H.  The Growth of the Old Testament (New York: Harper and Row, 1963). [BS/1140/.R66/1963]

Sanders, James.  Torah and Canon (Philadelphia, Fortress, 1972).

Ulrich, Eugene.  “The Canonical Process, Textual Criticism, and Latter Stages in the Composition of the Bible,” in Sha’arei Talmon (ed. Michael Fishbane and Emanuel Tov; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1992) 267-91.

Vasholz, Robert I.  The Old Testament Canon in the Old Testament Church: The Internal Rationale for Old Testament Canonicity (Lewistown, NY: Mellen Press, 1990).  [BS/1135/.V37/1990]

Special Introduction

I. Introductions

*Childs, Brevard.  An Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979).

*Dillard, Raymond and Tremper Longman III.  An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993).

*Eissfeldt, Otto.  The Old Testament: An Introduction (New York: Harper and Row, 1969) 1-241; 560-637.

*Harrison, R. K.  An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969).

*Young, E. J. An Introduction to the Old Testament (rev. ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964).

II. Old Testament Literature and Criticism

*Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Poetry (New York: Basic Books, 1985).

*_____.  The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1981).

*Barton, John.  Reading the Old Testament (rev ed; Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1996).
*
Berlin, Adele.  Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative (Sheffield: Almond, 1983).

Clements, R. E. A Century of Old Testament Study (Guilford and London: Lutterworth Press, 1976).

Fishbane, Michael.  Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Oxford Press, 1985).

Friedman, Richard Elliott.  Who Wrote the Bible? (New York: Harper and Row, 1987).  [BS/1225.2/.F75/1989]

*Gunkel, H.  The Folktale in the Old Testament (Sheffield: Almond Press, 1987).

Herion, G. A.  “The Impact of Modern and Social Science Assumptions on the Reconstruction of Israelite History,” JSOT 34 (1986) 3-33.

Knight, D. A. and G. M. Tucker, eds.  The Hebrew Bible and Its Modern Intepreters (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985).

*Kugel, J. L. and R. A. Greer.  Early Biblical Interpretation (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986).

*Long, V. Philips.  The Art of Biblical History (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994).

*Longman, Tremper III.  Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987).

*McKenzie, S. L. and S. R. Haynes, eds.  To Each Its Own Meaning: An Introduction to Biblical Criticisms and Their Applications (Louiville: Westminster/John Knox, 1993).

Rast, W.  Tradition History and the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972).

Trible, Phyllis.  Rhetorical Criticism (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994) 1-87.

Tucker, G.  Form Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971).

*Van Seters, J. Prologue to History (Louisville: Westminster, 1992).

Wilson, R. R.  Sociological Approaches to the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984).

III. Pentateuch


*Alexander, T. Desmond.  From Paradise to Promised Land: An Introduction to the Main Themes of the Pentateuch (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998).

*Blenkinsopp, Joseph.  The Pentateuch (New York: Doubleday, 1992) 1-53.  [BS/1225.2/.B544/1992]

*Clines, D. J. A.  The Theme of the Pentateuch (JSOTSup 10; 2nd ed; Sheffield: Sheffield, 1997).  [BS/1225.2/.C58/1997]

Fretheim, Terence E.  The Pentateuch (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996).  [BS/1225.2/.F73/1996]

*Gunkel, H.  The Legends of Genesis (tr. W. H. Carruth; Chicago: Open Court Publishing, 1901).

Olson, Dennis.  Deuteronomy and the Death of Moses (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994).

*von Rad, G.  Old Testament Theology 2 vols. (New York: Harper Collins, 1962) 1: 105-305.

Thompson, R. J.  Moses and the Law in a Century of Criticism Since Graf (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1970).  [BS/1225.2/.T56]

*Van Seters, John.  Prologue to History: The Yahwist as Historian (Louisville, KY: Westminster, 1992).

*Wellhausen, J.  A Prolegomena to the History of Israel (Cleveland: World Publishing, 1965).

Wenham, Gordon J.  “Pentateuchal Studies Today,” Themelios 22 (1996) 3-13.

Whybray, R. N.  The Making of the Pentateuch: A Methodological Study (JSOTSup 53; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1994).

IV. Former Prophets

*Cross, Frank Moore.  Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History of the Religion of Israel (Cambridge: Harvard Universtiy Press, 1973) 274-89.

*McConville, J. Gordon.  Grace in the End: A Study in Deuteronomic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993).

McKenzie, Steven and Patrick Graham, eds.  The History of Israel’s Traditions (JSOTSup 182; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1994).

Nelson, R.  The Double Redaction of the Deuteronomistic History (JSOTSup 18; Sheffield: Sheffield, 1981).

*Noth, M.  The Deuteronomistic History (JSOTSup 15; Sheffield: Sheffield, 1981).

von Rad, Gerhard.  “The Deuteronomic Theology of History in 1 and 2 Kings,” in The Problem of the Hexeteuch and Other Essays (London: SCM Press, 1984) 205-21.

*_____.  Old Testament Theology 2 vols. (New York: Harper Collins, 1962) 1: 306-459

V. Latter Prophets

Barstad, H. M.  “No Prophets?  Recent Develpments in Biblical Prophetic Research and Ancient Near Eastern Prophecy,” JSOT 57 (1993) 39-60.

*Blenkinsopp, Joseph.  A History of Prophecy in Israel (rev. ed.; Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1996).

Carr, David.  “Reaching for Unity in Isaiah,” JSOT 57 (1993) 61-80.

Clements, R. E.  Prophecy and Covenant (Studies in Biblical Theology; Naperville, IL: Alec R. Allenson, 1965).

_____.  Prophecy and Tradition (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1975). 

 *_____.  “The Unity of the Book of Isaiah,” in Interpreting the Prophets (ed. James Luther Mays and Paul J. Achtemeier (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987) 50-61.

Gordon, R. P.  “A Story of Two Paradigm Shifts,” in The Place is Too Small for Us: The Israelite Prophets in Recent Scholarship (ed. Robert P. Gordon; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1995) 3-26.

Gowan, Donald E.  Eschatology in the Old Testament (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1986).

Heschel, Abraham.  The Prophets: An Introduction (New York: Harper and Row, 1962).

Houston, W.  “What Did the Prophets Think They Were Doing?  Speech Acts and Prophetic Discourse in the Old Testament,” Biblical Interpretation 1/2 (1993) 167-88.

Koch, K.  The Prophets: Volume 1, The Assyrian Period (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983).

_____.  The Prophets: Volume 2, the Babylonian and Persian Periods (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984).

Petersen, D. L.  The Roles of Israel’s Prophets (JSOTSup 17; Sheffield: JSOT, 1981).

von Rad, G..  Old Testament Theology vol 2 (New York: Harper and Row, 1962).

Westermann, C.  Basic Forms of Prophetic Speech (tr. H C. White; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1967).  [BS/1505.2/.W413]

Wilson, R. R.  Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980).

*Young, Edward J.  My Servants the Prophets (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952).

Zimmerli, W.  The Law and the Prophets: A Study of the Meaning of the Old Testament (Oxford: Blackwell, 1965).

VI. Writings

*Crenshaw, James.  Old Testament Wisdom (rev. and enl.; Louiville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1998).

Day, John, R. P. Gordon and H. G. M. Williamson, eds. Wisdom in Ancient Israel: Essays in Honour of J. A. Emerton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Dillard, Raymond.  “Reward and Punishment in Chronicles: The Theology of Immediate Retribution,” WTJ 46 (1984) 164-72.

*Gunkel, H.  The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction with an Introduction by James Muilenburg (tr. Thomas Marland Horner; reprint; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1967).

Kraus, Hans-Joachim.  Theology of the Psalms (tr. Keith Crim; Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1986).

McCann, J. Clinton, Jr.  A Theological Introduction to the Book of Psalms: The Psalms as Torah (Nashville: Abingdon, 1993).

Nicholson, E. W., “The Limits of Theodicy as a Theme of the Book of Job,” in Wisdom in Ancient Israel: Essays in Honour of J. A. Emerton, ed. John Day, R. P. Gordon and H. G. M. Williamson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995) 71-82.

*von Rad G.  Wisdom in Israel (Nashville: Abingdon, 1972).

Whybray, R. N.  Reading the Psalms as a Book (JSOTSup 222; Sheffield: JSOT, 1996). BS/1430.2/.W494/1996

_____.  “The Wisdom Psalms” in Wisdom in Ancient Israel: Essays in Honour of J. A. Emerton, ed. John Day, R. P. Gordon and H. G. M. Williamson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995) 152-60.

Wilson, Gerald Henry.  The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter (SBLDS 76; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1985) 139-228. BS/1430.2/.W55/1985

Old Testament Theology

*Albright, W. F.  Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: A Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1969).

*Brueggeman, Walter.  A Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997).

Dyrness, William.  Themes in Old Testament Theology (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1979).

Eichrodt, W.  Theology of the Old Testament 2 vols. (tr. J. A. Baker; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961).  [BS/1192.5/.E3513/1961]

Gowan, Donald.  Eschatology in the Old Testament (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1986).

*Hasel, G.  Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues and Current Debate (4th ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991).

*Levenson, Jon D.  Sinai and Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible (New York: Harper and Row, 1985).

*Longman, Tremper III and Daniel Reid.  God is a Warrior (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996).

*Niehaus, Jeffrey.  God at Sinai: Covenant & Theophany in the Bible and Ancient Near East (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995).  [BS/1199/.T45/N54/1995]

Ollenburger, Martens and Hasel.  The Flowering of Old Testament Theology (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1992).

*Robertson, O. Palmer.  The Christ of the Covenants (Philipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1980).

Seitz, Christopher.  Word Without End: The Old Testament as Abiding Theological Witness (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998).

*van Gemeren, Willem.  The Progress of Redemption: The Story of Salvation from Creation to the New Jerusalem (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988).

*Vos, Geerhardus.  Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948).

Wright, Christopher.  Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1992).