David S. T.'s Reviews > Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction

Reading the Old Testament by Lawrence Boadt
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's review
Dec 14, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, read-in-2011, religion
Read from December 29, 2010 to March 25, 2011

After reading Raymond Brown's Introduction to the New Testament last year, I wanted to read a similar book on the Old Testament, I ended up selecting this one. This book doesn't get into near the depth of Brown's book but at the same time it covers three times the amount of biblical texts but is only half as long. I found this book to be very well written and fascinating, but its quite different from the evangelical introduction that I've previously read. Overall though it was exactly what I was looking for. Based on this book and Brown's book, I'm surprised at how different these two Catholic scholars approach scripture from what I'm used to, they both seem very high up on critical scholarship and aren't afraid to doubt the validly of certain scriptures, but at the same time appear to keep their faith in Christ.

Even though this book is large it covers a lot of material, so for many subjects expect a great overview but not much depth. Also for the most part expect to only be presented certain scholarly views as fact and not have any dialog with other views. I think both of these things are fine, otherwise the book would have had to be much larger and it might have broken up the pace. This leads me to my biggest complaints, the bibliography is pretty weak and references to sources is non existent. My other complaint is that this book is over 25 years old and I'm sure scholarship has changed over that time. I'll have to look for a more up to date book later.

Those complaints aside, this book is exactly what I think a Old Testament Introduction should be (as long as you remember its more critical scholarship than evangelical). It covers the Ancient Near East, the geography of the land, daily life, cult and worship in Israel, textual criticism, archeology and tell digs. It introduces the different books of the bible, talks about the different type of Psalms and literature and places the books in their proper context, this is especially useful and informative when you get to the prophetic books which can be confusing if you don't know the background. I found extremely interesting the discussions of the Assyrian, Babylon and Greek empires and the pressure they put on the Jews.

Now when I say this book uses critical scholarship what I mean is expect lots of references to the JEPD editors of the Pentateuch (where Moses didn't write the Torah, but it was a series of 4 different editors who compiled stories). He points out obvious story reuses, and contradictions. He has comparisons from the creation account to the other creation stories in the ANE and doesn't accept a young earth. I don't think he believes the exodus account (at least not to the extent of 600,000 men, plus women and children in the desert for 40 years). He also believes Isaiah was written by 3 different sources. There are other examples I could give, but this should give an idea of some of the non evangelical views he holds. Of course at the same time he appears to have reverence for Jesus and does believe that Jesus is the son of God. Overall this book was highly informative and if you don't mind having your belief in the inerrancy of the Old Testament challenged (although maybe its still inspired), then this book is highly recommended.

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