Victor Matthews, a veteran teacher and expert on the world of ancient Israel, believes that an enormous cultural gap exists between modern students and the ancient world. To cross this gap, he believes that we need to understand that the original authors cannot be ripped out of their context, but neither can we transport them to ours. Rather, we must enter their world on their terms.
Drawing on archaeology and ancient Near Eastern texts, Matthews examines each of the prophets chronologically, placing them and their message into historical context. He explores pertinent aspects of historical geography, economic conditions, and social forces that influenced a prophet's life and message and explains why prophets served an integral purpose in the development of ancient Israelite religion.
Furthermore, Matthews also explores how prophets addressed their audience and employed rhetorical methods, images, and metaphors to communicate effectively. Logically organized, clearly written, and classroom friendly, this book meets the needs of beginning as well as advanced students. It is a substantially revised and expanded edition of the successful text Social World of the Hebrew Prophets.
Victor Matthews, a veteran teacher and expert on the world of ancient Israel, introduces students to the Hebrew prophets and their social world. Drawing on archaeology and ancient Near Eastern texts, Matthews examines the prophets chronologically, placing them and their message into historical context. He explores pertinent aspects of historical geography, economic conditions, and social forces that influenced a prophet's life and message and explains why prophets served an integral purpose in the development of ancient Israelite religion. He also explores how prophets addressed their audience and employed rhetorical methods, images, and metaphors to communicate effectively. Logically organized, clearly written, and classroom friendly, this book meets the needs of beginning as well as advanced students. It is a substantially revised and expanded edition of the successful text Social World of the Hebrew Prophets.
Victor H. Matthews (PhD, Brandeis University) is dean of the College of Humanities and Public Affairs and professor of religious studies at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, where he has taught for over twenty-five years. He is the author of numerous books, including The Old Testament: Text and Context, Studying the Ancient Israelites, and the bestselling Manners and Customs in the Bible.
This is a user-friendly, insightful introduction to the prophets and their times. It brings together for readers the prophetic books, the figures they represent, and the world that produced them.
professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary
Matthews's The Hebrew Prophets and Their Social World suits the needs of the college and seminary classroom in exemplary fashion. In it, Matthews sets the biblical prophets in their broader social context and in their specific historical contexts. He describes the phenomenon of prophecy, traces the outlines of its developments in ancient Israel from Moses to Malachi, and sketches the key themes in the preaching of each of the classical prophets. Supplemented by inserts that examine important background issues and a very helpful glossary and couched in readable, direct prose, this introduction sets a high standard.
Russell T. Cherry Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
The sheer genius of Victor Matthews is his ability to take very dense material and present it in a way that is thoroughly engaging, well researched, and brilliantly written. This study packs a lot of punch in a short amount of space and welcomes both students and scholars alike into the rich world of the ancient Near Eastern prophetic tradition and each of Israel's prophets. This text is an excellent resource, an indispensable tool for learning, and should be used in every biblical course on the prophets.
-Carol J. Dempsey, professor of theology (biblical studies), University of Portland
My students often have difficulty coming to terms with the Hebrew Prophets because they are so diverse and yet all part of the same phenomenon of prophecy in ancient Israel. Victor Matthews has produced a very readable volume that provides the information students and other readers of the Old Testament need to begin a fruitful journey with the prophets. He has put the prophetic books in the full context of the Hebrew Bible and in the process helped his readers understand a number of issues in biblical interpretation. His volume demonstrates the value of approaching the prophetic books with attention to their social setting. The volume is a fine beginning point for those who would interpret with integrity the Old Testament prophetic books.
-W. H. Bellinger Jr.,
Introduces students (and scholars as well) to the world in which the prophets lived and about which they spoke. Matthews brings to life the prophetic text by clarifying the significance of many social, economic, vocational, and political aspects presupposed by the prophetic oracles, aspects with which modern readers often are not acquainted. The value of the book is enhanced with a glossary and topical bibliography.
-Craig A. Evans,
Bulletin for Biblical Research
Two features help to make this book more accessible to its intended audience: the text is interspersed with highlighted boxes containing basic information of various kinds, and key terms printed in boldface can be found in a glossary. The work concludes with a selected bibliography to guide further research and indexes of names, subjects, and primary sources.
-Michael H. Floyd,
Catholic Biblical Quarterly
This text is meant as...an introduction and succeeds admirably...Matthews is a good teacher; certainly his book has considerable pedagogical merits. The layout is clear, stages in the movement of thought are flagged for the aid of slow learners, and summaries are provided by way of tables within the text. There are two indexes, a glossary (always helpful to a beginner), [and] current bibliographies on every prophet with website addresses for updating.
-Robert C. Hill,
The book...functions as a good, general introduction to the social world of biblical prophecy. It encourages the reader to be sensitive to the social realities that shaped the contexts, messages, and audiences of the prophets. The book should prove useful for students, pastors, or lay people who are unfamiliar with a sociological approach to biblical studies.
Toronto Journal of Theology
The OT prophetic books often intimidate modern readers who intuitively sense that this literature comes from a far distant time and place. Many desire to understand the prophets, but are often frustrated in their attempts to do so because of the geographical, temporal, and cultural barriers that seem to defy interpretation of such ancient literature. In this volume Victor Matthews... attempts to bridge this gap for readers...His volume is geared for students, not specialists, and is best utilized in introductory college level course on the prophets.
-Robert B. Chisholm Jr.,
A fine textbook for secondary and college-level study...It treats only the most significant critical issues, but it does so in a manner that is both readable and in contact with the best of contemporary scholarship.
-Mark E. Biddle,
Review & Expositor
Matthews has written a valuable new textbook on the Hebrew prophets. It is accessible in writing style, straightforwardly presented, and comprehensive in scope...I recommend it for college-level biblical studies courses...Multiple features of the volume enhance its pedagogical value.
-Stephen L. Cook,
Journal of Hebrew Scriptures
This [book] is clear and well organized. Sub-headings, highlighted terms, and offset boxes make this text a wonderful pedagogical tool for teaching an introductory course in the prophets. [Matthews's] primary focus on the prophets' social world with attention to the various literary forms and techniques found in the prophetic texts is a welcome addition to the collection of texts already written about Israel's prophets. Without any sacrifice of content, the work is concise, reader-friendly, and thoroughly engaging. This is an excellent resource of scholars, teachers, students, and general readers of the Bible.
Often books bringing a wealth of scholarship to bear on a particular subject make it difficult for general readers to gain benefit because of the use of technical language. Not so with Victor Matthew's Social World of the Hebrew Prophets. Instead, Matthews uses his vast knowledge of the biblical world to illuminate the prophets and their message in this brief, easy-to-read introduction.