I meant to post this yesterday (as readers in RSS will have noticed), so rather than wait until next week, it seemed like the thing to do while I watch some college football.
To give a preview of how this series will unfold, here’s a table of contents:
- General Overview
- Old Testament Backgrounds (what you’re reading as we speak)
- The Pentateuch
- The Former Prophets
- The Latter Prophets
- The Writings
As you can see, I’m taking a kind of middle way between traditional English Bible divisions and Hebrew divisions (Torah, Prophets, Writings). This is because a) I teach Old Testament across 4 quarters rather than 3 and b) I think it helps divide things evenly giving equal time to the story of the Old Testament and the corresponding commentary on the story.
So, before we get into the actual book divisions themselves, I thought I’d give an overview of suggested background resources. Just keep in mind I’m giving my preferences and recommendations. In other words, these are the resources I prefer and use in my own library. There are certainly other great options out there, but since I’m not aiming at a comprehensive list of options, I’m just giving you what I’ve found helpful and what I think should be in pretty much every pastor and teacher’s library. With that in mind, here’s what I’d suggest as overall Old Testament resources
Old Testament Overview and Backgrounds
- An Introduction To The Old Testament by Tremper Longman III & Raymond Dillard
- The Faith of Israel by William Dumbrell
- Hearing the Old Testament ed. by Craig Bartholomew & David Beldman
- An Old Testament Theology by Bruce Waltke
- Ancient Near Eastern Thought and The Old Testament by John Walton
- A Survey of The Old Testament by John Walton and Andrew Hill
There are certainly more I could list, but these are the resources I’m consulting over and over as I make Bible survey notes. The last book is actually the textbook for the class. Walton’s background book is especially helpful, but as a whole these resource work together to give a broad survey and theological overview of the Old Testament.
Now, when it comes to individual books, your best bet is to get a solid commentary covering each book of the Bible. If you want a comprehensive survey of available commentaries on Old Testament books, you should check out Tremper Longman’s Old Testament Commentary Survey or John Glynn’s Commentary and Reference Survey. If you’d just like to know the 2 best commentaries on each book, then simply click here. Rather than cover individual books, here’s a quick rundown of my favorite commentary series, of which I’ll suggest individual titles in the coming posts.
Commentary Series Survey
- Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC) – concise to the point commentaries, great introductions and aimed at the general reader
- NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC) – a commentary series aimed at making applications from the text by bridging from the biblical context to the contemporary world
- New International Commentaries on the Old Testament (NICOT) – technical depth with pastoral sensitivity, my personal favorite when it comes the Old Testmanet
- Word Biblical Commentary (WBC) – more technical than the average person will need or appreciate, but several volumes are exceptional
- Baker Exegetical Commentaries on The Old Testament Wisdom & Psalms (BECOTWP) – technical but accessible, I wish they covered more than just the wisdom literature.
There are other reputable commentary series on the Old Testament, but based on what you see on Best Commentaries, these are the commentaries that most frequently appear ranked in the top 2 spots for each Old Testament book. Other series worth an honorable mention are the New American Commentaries, New International Biblical Commentary, The Bible Speaks Today, and the Anchor Bible series.
In general, my goal has been to get one good pastoral commentary and one good technical and one good pastoral or devotional commentary on each book. I’m also shooting for having the top 2 listed commentaries on each Old Testament book, but am adding depth for certain books that either of special research interest (Genesis) or of importance to a Christian theologian/pastor (Psalms).
Beyond those general guidelines, I’ll just have to show you what I’ve gotten as we go through each section. Before we get to our next post, here’s two questions:
- What do you think I’ve overlooked in the specific resources I’ve listed? What would you add?
- What commentary series have you found especially useful when it comes to the Old Testament?
Let me know below in the comments what you think!