Here's a useful book for those just beginning to approach the Old Testament for the first time at any depth. It is clearly based on classroom teaching and is attractively laid out with 'boxes' and 'insets' for special details, diagrams, and some pictures. Study questions at the end of each section would help a student on his/her own to grasp what has just been studied...A helpful book that brings the text to us, and its context and questions of interpretation.
Matthews is well-known for his work in biblical backgrounds...Such expertise in backgrounds moves this book beyond a simple introduction of the content and themes of each OT/HB [Old Testament/Hebrew Bible] book to illuminating the worlds both within and behind the OT/HB books...The authors have given significant revision to certain portions of the text, restructured the chapters, and reworked the study questions to facilitate class discussion and critical thinking...The book is well organized and well written. It is easily accessible to the college-level student and written with such students in mind...The authors make generous use of maps, charts, photographs, and sidebars to illuminate the information in the main discussions, and each section and chapter ends with study questions...The great strength of this book is, as suggested by the title, the blending of matters related to the text and the context of the OT/HB. It not only summarizes what is in the OT/HB but also provides insight into the world of the biblical characters and biblical writers by integrating relevant archaeological data, social-historical issues, and insights from critical scholarship...This textbook does a fine job of preparing the student to read the OT/HB intelligently...A very good introduction to and survey of the OT/HB."
Review of Biblical Literature
In the second edition the authors have done a significant revision. . . . However, the basic structure remains the same. . . . Important concepts are printed in bold and explained fully in a glossary at the end of the book. This is a fine undergraduate textbook that examines not only the literary and historical aspects of the biblical texts but also the social context of the people.
-The Bible Today
This book is more a total reworking than a simple revision of the original text...The authors believe they have achieved greater clarity, expansion, and greater attention to certain sections, especially on the prophets. My reading confirms that the authors have met if not surpassed their goals. Restructured chapters provide better uniformity in length, an aid to teaching. Reworking study questions permit better class discussion and critical thinking exercises. New sidebars help in translation and explanation of ancient texts. There are updated archaeological insights and an expanded glossary...This book would be a helpful resource for all congregational and seminary libraries and an excellent text for students and teachers.
-Church and Synagogue Libraries
Originally published in 1997 and now presented as a thoroughly revised second edition, the book by V. Matthews and James C. Moyer is a textbook for undergraduates on the OT. [It] combines the history of Israel (ably surveyed) with the introduction to the individual books that are dealt with in the canonical sequence...The book includes helpful study questions.
-International Review of Biblical Studies