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The Old Testament : A Very Short Introduction - Michael Coogan

The Old Testament

A Very Short Introduction

Paperback Published: 22nd May 2008
ISBN: 9780195305050
Number Of Pages: 140

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Eminent biblical scholar Michael D. Coogan offers here a wide-ranging and stimulating exploration of the Old Testament, illuminating its importance as history, literature, and sacred text.

Coogan explains the differences between the Bible of Jewish tradition (the "Hebrew Bible") and the Old Testament of Christianity, and also examines the different contents of the Bibles used by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Protestants. He looks at the rise of modern biblical scholarship as well as the recovery of ancient Near Eastern literatures and their significance for biblical interpretation. Coogan explores the use of invented dialogue and historical fiction in the Old Testament, the presence of mythic elements in apparently historical accounts, and the relationship of ancient Israelite myths to those of their neighbors. The book considers the Old Testament's idea of divine justice, especially in Ecclesiastes and Job, and looks at notions of the afterlife in the ancient Near East and in ancient Israel. Coogan highlights the significance of the history and literature of the Old Testament and describes how non-biblical evidence, such as archaeological data and texts, has placed the Old Testament in a larger and more illuminating context. The book also discusses law and ritual in the Bible as well as the biblical understandings of prophecy.

Here then is a marvelous overview of one of the great pillars of Western religion and culture, a book whose significance has endured for thousands of years and which remains vitally important today for Jews, Christians, and Muslims worldwide.

About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, and Literary Theory to History. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given topic. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how it has developed and influenced society. Whatever the area of study, whatever the topic that fascinates the reader, the series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.

Industry Reviews

"By skillfully examining well-selected biblical texts, Coogan has offered readers a valuable window into the complexity, beauty, and importance of the Hebrew Bible. Through compelling analogies, he clarifies the meaning of the Bible, and allows the modern student to appreciate this complex ancient collection in its context."--Marc Zvi Brettler, Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies, Brandeis University, and Author of How to Read the Jewish Bible (Oxford), and co-editor of The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford). "This book is a remarkable achievement. Accessible, informative, and authoritative, it packs into its small size an amazing amount of information, not only about the literature of the Old Testament and its cultural and historical context, but also about the methods of biblical scholarship that revolutionized the understanding of the Old Testament during the last two centuries. It is an ideal introduction for a wide range of readers: the non-religious who are curious about this cultural monument, Jews and Christians who want an orientation to their complex scriptures, and students seeking an overview of the Old Testament in critical perspective."--Carol Newsom, Candler Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, Emory University "Marked by an astonishing comprehensiveness, this book presents established facts and contested issues alike with irenic clarity. Balancing panoramic views with deeper exegetical probes, Coogan deftly interweaves insights gleaned from Canaanite, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian texts, archaeology, reception history from Ben Sira to Luther to Kierkegaard, and contemporary feminist criticism. The result is a compelling invitation to readers who seek to understand the ancient sociopolitical conflicts, rituals, and theologies that animate the Old Testament."--Carolyn Sharp, Associate Professor of Hebrew Scriptures Yale Divinity School "By skillfully examining well-selected biblical texts, Coogan has offered readers a valuable window into the complexity, beauty, and importance of the Hebrew Bible. Through compelling analogies, he clarifies the meaning of the Bible, and allows the modern student to appreciate this complex ancient collection in its context."--Marc Zvi Brettler, Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies, Brandeis University, and Author of How to Read the Jewish Bible (Oxford), and co-editor of The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford). "This book is a remarkable achievement. Accessible, informative, and authoritative, it packs into its small size an amazing amount of information, not only about the literature of the Old Testament and its cultural and historical context, but also about the methods of biblical scholarship that revolutionized the understanding of the Old Testament during the last two centuries. It is an ideal introduction for a wide range of readers: the non-religious who are curious about this cultural monument, Jews and Christians who want an orientation to their complex scriptures, and students seeking an overview of the Old Testament in critical perspective."--Carol Newsom, Candler Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, Emory University "Marked by an astonishing comprehensiveness, this book presents established facts and contested issues alike with irenic clarity. Balancing panoramic views with deeper exegetical probes, Coogan deftly interweaves insights gleaned from Canaanite, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian texts, archaeology, reception history from Ben Sira to Luther to Kierkegaard, and contemporary feminist criticism. The result is a compelling invitation to readers who seek to understand the ancient sociopolitical conflicts, rituals, and theologies that animate the Old Testament."--Carolyn Sharp, Associate Professor of Hebrew Scriptures Yale Divinity School

List of Illustrations
What is the Old Testament?p. 1
Interpretive strategiesp. 12
The Old Testament and historyp. 22
The Old Testament and mythp. 33
The Exodus from Egypt: a deep probep. 43
"Keep my commandments": biblical lawp. 53
"Festivals of the Lord"; ritual in ancient Israelp. 64
Prophets and propheciesp. 74
Hezekiah and Sennacherib: another deep probep. 91
Poetry and dissentp. 100
"Let us now praise famous men" - and womenp. 111
The enduring significance of the Old Testamentp. 121
Chronologyp. 125
The Canons of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testamentp. 127
Referencesp. 130
Further Readingp. 132
Indexp. 135
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195305050
ISBN-10: 0195305051
Series: Very Short Introductions
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 140
Published: 22nd May 2008
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 17.78 x 10.8  x 1.27
Weight (kg): 0.16

Earn 38 Qantas Points
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