John Collins's introduction is a timely and welcome contribution, one based on his own extensive research and on his many years of teaching the subject. The reader will find not only a careful presentation of the biblical material but also a judicious assessment of scholarship on it. This book will be a valuable tool for classroom use, and the bibliographies appended to each chapter will help the student who wishes to pursue a topic in greater detail.
-James C. VanderKam,
University of Notre Dame
Drawing on years of teaching in seminary and university, and of addressing Christian and Jewish popular audiences, Collins has produced a clear, concise, and up-to-date introduction to the Old Testament including the deuterocanonical books. Wisely following the canonical order of books (slightly adapted), he describes each book's contents, critical issues, and religious meaning. Collins situates each biblical book squarely in its historical setting, and deals honestly with the problems as well as well as the bounty of the Bible. A special bonus is his masterful coverage of the often-slighted Second Temple literature. Its seriousness, detail, and sophistication set this textbook apart and make it an excellent resource for college and seminary courses, and for pastors and educated laity.
-Richard J. Clifford, S.J.,
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
At last! This is the introduction to the Hebrew Bible I have been looking for: a balanced and richly informative introduction that covers essential critical and comparative perspectives and sets up pertinent interpretive issues, leaving the instructor free to work with the class in any number of directions. Using Collins' textbook is like team-teaching with a master teacher. His tone is welcoming but often wry, accessible yet authoritative. This is a textbook written by someone who not only knows his students but who genuinely likes them - and likes to challenge them. Collins does not take refuge in an antiquarian approach to the Hebrew Bible but repeatedly identifies the complex ethical issues raised by the text and by the responsibilities involved in interpreting the text.
Candler School of Theology
Collins' volume meets a long-standing need for an up-to-date and well-informed critical introduction to the Hebrew Bible. His lucid presentation of the socio-historical background of the world of ancient Israel and Judah and the compositional history of the biblical books provides a fitting context by which to read the Bible's perspectives on the people of Israel/Judah, their interrelationships with surrounding cultures, and their understandings of the divine. A particularly important contribution of this volume is its treatment of the deuterocanonical or apocryphal books. Collins' work stands as a most welcome and highly recommended textbook for both undergraduates and seminarians.
-Marvin A. Sweeney,
Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University