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Encountering the Old Testament, 3rd Edition

A Christian Survey

series: Encountering Biblical Studies

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This new edition of a popular evangelical survey of the Old Testament has been thoroughly updated and features a beautiful new interior design. It is lavishly illustrated with four-color images, maps, and charts and retains the pedagogical features that have made the book so popular:

· chapter outlines, objectives, and summaries
· study questions
· sidebars featuring primary source material, ethical and theological issues, and contemporary applications
· lists of key terms, people, and places
· further reading recommendations
· endnotes and indexes

This book is accompanied by free online resources. Click the red eSources banner above for more information.

About the Series

Each volume in the Encountering Biblical Studies series is designed for classroom use and includes a number of helpful features, including a bibliography, key terms, chapter objectives, chapter outlines, sidebars, and illustrations.


Preface to the Third Edition
Preface to the Second Edition
To the Professor
To the Student
1. What Is the Old Testament and Why Study It?
2. Where and When Did the Events of the Old Testament Take Place?
Part 1: Encountering the Pentateuch
3. Introduction to the Pentateuch: The Birth of God's People
4. Genesis 1-11: The Prelude to Israel
5. Genesis 12-50: The Patriarchs: Ancestors of Israel's Faith
6. Exodus: A Miraculous Escape
7. Leviticus: Instructions for Holy Living
8. Numbers: Failure in the Desert
9. Deuteronomy: Restoring the Covenant
Part 2: Encountering the Historical Books
10. Introduction to the Historical Books: The History of Israel's Nationhood
11. Joshua: Conquest and Division
12. Judges and Ruth: Israel's Moral Crisis
13. First Samuel: God Grants a King
14. Second Samuel: David's Reign
15. First Kings: The Glory of Solomon and the Beginning of the End
16. Second Kings: The End of National Israel
17. First and Second Chronicles: A Look Back
18. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther: A Time to Rebuild
Part 3: Encountering the Poetical Books
19. Introduction to the Poetical Books: The Literature of God's People
20. Job: One Man's Search for Justice
21. Psalms: The Songbook of Ancient Israel
22. Proverbs: Advice on Living in God's World
23. Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs: Israelite Faith in Everyday Life
Part 4: Encountering the Prophets
24. Introduction to the Prophets: Voices of God's Servants
25. Isaiah 1-39: Prophet of Judah's Royal Court
26. Isaiah 40-66: Great Days Are Coming!
27. Jeremiah 1-20: Struggling with God's Call
28. Jeremiah 21-52 and Lamentations: Dealing with Disaster
29. Ezekiel 1-24: Rough Days Are Coming!
30. Ezekiel 25-48: God Is Planning an Exciting Future!
31. Daniel: The Kingdom of God--Now and Forever
32. Hosea, Joel, and Amos: A Call for Repentance and a Promise for Blessing
33. Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah: God's Plan for the Nations
34. Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi: Rebuilding a People
Epilogue: A Final Word


Praise for Previous Editions

"Arnold and Beyer have produced an exciting new survey of the Old Testament with the college student specifically in mind. They have masterfully designed their work with text and graphics in a way that will not only grip the student's attention but will guide students through the material with their expert touch. I enthusiastically recommend this volume to you."

Tremper Longman III, professor of Old Testament, Westmont College

"The authors are commended for providing their readers with a lucid survey of the Old Testament. They cover a wide array of issues in an easy to read text. Complex issues receive a balanced treatment. The illustrations, sidebars, glossary, and study questions open up the relevance of the biblical text both in its ancient context and in our modern situation. A very useful volume."

Willem A. VanGemeren, professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages, Trinity International University

"This volume is written in a clear and engaging style, and is generously graced with study questions, summaries, listing of key terms, suggestions for further reading, illustrations, charts, and maps. The college-level students for whom this is written will find that this is truly what it claims to be: a textbook aimed at them. It is not the generic, all-purpose work that is too often produced, aimed at all (college and seminary students, pastors, scholars, and interested laypeople) and succeeding at hitting very few. Arnold and Beyer are well-versed in their fields and they succeed at explicating the message of the Old Testament in clear, readable style. A fine, college-level survey that sets a high standard for all such surveys in the future."

David M. Howard Jr., professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

"Encountering the Old Testament is packed with data, but is not cluttered. An abundance of visuals, including charts that clearly summarize complex issues, together with a most inviting format whet the appetite for study. Hardly could an inquisitive student ask for better guidance."

Elmer Martens, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary

"For college students who are encountering the Old Testament for the first time, this attractively produced textbook offers a clear and helpful orientation to the world and literature of the Old Testament. The full-color photographs and maps, as well as the user-friendly charts, sidebars, and review aids, combine to invite everyone who opens this book to begin reading it immediately--a refreshing improvement over the standard textbook fare!"

Richard Schultz, Wheaton College

The Authors

  1. Bill T. Arnold

    Bill T. Arnold

    Bill T. Arnold (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is Paul S. Amos Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, where he has taught for more than twenty-five years. He is the author or editor of twelve books, including...

    Continue reading about Bill T. Arnold

  2. Bryan E. Beyer

    Bryan E. Beyer

    Bryan E. Beyer (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is Bible professor emeritus at Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina, where he has taught for more than thirty-five years. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including...

    Continue reading about Bryan E. Beyer


"The authors offer more extensive revisions [in the third edition] than in the previous editions including up-to-date resources and materials in 'Further Reading' sections. . . . The authors provide a broad evangelical understanding of the OT material and allow the professor to decide what to emphasize in teaching. . . . Furthermore, the authors make it clear that they have college students in mind as their main audience. Bright graphics and charts grab students' attention and guide their reading from one major point to the next. Side bars and review aids invite students to read and reflect on the material for better understanding and retention. The authors have done well in presenting the content of the OT and its Near Eastern background in a condensed-yet-helpful and critical manner. . . . This textbook is an excellent resource for college students, presented in [an] appealing and engaging format, that should be incorporated into the Required Texts list."

Larisa Levicheva,

Bulletin for Biblical Research

"The changes made to this third edition of a very fine introduction to the Old Testament are . . . extensive. . . . Besides rewriting some of the content, the authors have updated and expanded pedagogical aids such as footnotes. However, the features that have made this such a useful textbook remain. Outlines, maps, charts, colorful reproductions, study questions, suggestions for further reading, and a glossary at the end of the book are still there. This is a well-researched, carefully written, and easily understood textbook."

Dianne Bergant, CSA,

The Bible Today

Praise for Previous Editions

"A textbook for students who are taking their first course in Old Testament study, this volume moves carefully through the Protestant canon book by book. Each chapter begins with an outline of the content covered and a list of objectives the students should be able to accomplish after completing that chapter. The content itself is arranged in relatively short sections, making it interesting to read and easy to understand. Illustrative charts, colorful pictures and reproductions, and informative maps are included on almost every page. Inserts that explain theological issues, excerpt primary sources, provide relevant study questions, or offer suggestions for further reading are found throughout each chapter. Boldfaced words and names are explained in an extensive glossary at the end of the book. . . . All these features add to the pedagogical value of the book."

Dianne Bergant, CSA,

The Bible Today

"Here is a college-level text book with bells and whistles. . . . Its layout is attractive; the information is up-to-date and extensive. . . . The authors identify the theological themes of most books--a decidedly positive contribution, for in addition to description the reader is given some analysis. . . . The evangelical orientation, which takes account of other streams of Bible interpretation, is commendable for its even-handedness. . . . Large commendation is due the authors for their simple straightforward prose, which eschews academese, and for their wonderfully concise and engaging book summaries. The thirteen-page triple-columned glossary . . . is choice. Endnotes . . . will be welcomed by graduate students. The publishers deserve commendation for an attractive, user-friendly layout, especially the colorful and uncluttered maps. . . . The excellent scholarship represented here, along with an appealing format, make this one of the best, if not the best Old Testament introduction for first-year college students. It could hardly be more helpful."

Elmer A. Martens,

Review of Biblical Literature

"The authors have been very serviceable to those who may use this fine volume as a textbook that surveys the Old Testament. . . . A brief (and very helpful) epilogue concludes the book's material proper. . . . The glossary as well as the other notes and indices make this a very beneficial volume for students of the Old Testament who may not be as conversant in these studies as the more advanced scholar. . . . The strength of the book is its comprehensiveness. . . . This book would serve as an excellent introduction to the entire Old Testament to college students who were serious about learning the survey of that Testament. . . . Pastors and interested laypeople will use this book with great profit."

Mark D. Vander Hart,

Mid-America Journal of Theology

"Along with its award-winning New Testament counterpart authored by W. A. Elwell and R. W. Yarbrough, this volume sets a new standard in user-friendly, pedagogically adept, technologically advanced introductions to the Bible."


"Speaking as one who has started literally dozens of Old Testament surveys and found only a few worthy of completing, I highly recommend this volume to all who read the Old Testament. . . . This is a five star recommendation."

George Thomas,

The Messenger

"This volume is warmly recommended for the undergraduate environment or a Christian education class with the ambitious and laudable goal of reading and exploring the world of the Hebrew Scriptures."

Keith Bodner,

Faith & Mission

"This book is an excellent Bible survey resource tool. . . . This series is useful to both new students of the Bible and those who have studied the Old Testament in more depth but need occasional access to good survey material."

Pam Betker,

Bibliotheca Sacra

"One student aptly summarized the general consensus in regard to the book when she wrote, 'it was very interesting and caught my attention without going over my head.' This assessment and others like it indicate that Encountering the Old Testament should make a valuable contribution to Christian higher education as an introductory textbook for years to come."

Michael Pabarcus,

Stone-Campbell Journal

"This book is an outstanding survey text of the Old Testament. It can be used as a personal reference book or as a textbook for a course in Old Testament Introduction. The authors have done an excellent job presenting key information in a very interesting and readable style."

Paul C. Boling,

Christian Library Journal

"Every so often, there appears a new book that is a cut above anything else in its field. This latest effort by Arnold and Beyer is just such a work. . . . It is by far the best introduction to come along in the last twenty years or so."

Southwestern Journal of Theology

"The intended market for Encountering the Old Testament is freshman survey courses in evangelical colleges. For my money, it is the best book of its sort I've ever seen, a very impressive achievement. In fact, I would happily assign the book in my own Old Testament class at a state university if I used a survey approach."

Ed Christian,

Andrews University Seminary Studies

"I think many beginning college students in this computer age would be more likely to read (and learn!) from this book than from many standard, dull and boring monochrome texts."

Joel F. Drinkard,

Review & Expositor

"Teachers and students will find the book useful for its purpose. Aspects of history, geography, sociology, criticism, and theology are introduced. [This volume] should be in Bible colleges and seminary libraries. Pastors and interested laypeople will also benefit from [it]."

David W. Baker,

Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin

"This volume presents the best and most complete college-level survey of the Old Testament presently available. It incorporates contemporary media and formats . . . with the splendid use of color illustrations, photos, charts, maps, and inserts throughout the book."

Richard S. Hess,

Denver Seminary Journal Online

"Written from an Evangelical point of view, the critical scholarship that undergirds this work can certainly serve the needs and interests of a much broader audience. . . . It provides initial outlines of the biblical material under discussion, a list of objectives for its study, sidebars that provide additional explanation of important issues, study questions, and an exceptionally helpful glossary of terms. Charts, maps, and pictures illustrate and further explain the material. . . . This volume can be read by those who are looking for a sound yet introductory treatment of the biblical material."

Dianne Bergant, CSA,

The Bible Today

"The format of the text is well designed and the content presentation is suitable for a beginning student of the OT. . . . [This volume] will undoubtedly serve undergraduate and Bible institute students well."

Keith Essex and Dennis M. Swanson,

Master's Seminary Journal

"A strength of the whole Encountering series is applicable to this volume: the sturdy paper and binding, the liberal use of color for informative sidebars and photos, and the frequent positioning of summaries, study questions, and suggestions for further reading. . . . This textbook should appeal to students and will serve them with reliable information."

Forrest L. Bivens,

Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly

"I have used both books [Encountering the Old Testament and Encountering the New Testament] in Bible Survey courses and found them to be excellent textbooks for an undergrad, freshman level course. . . . Both books are written by solid evangelicals and demonstrate a commitment to the inspiration and authority of the Bible. . . . Both books are richly illustrated and have many side-bars and charts to help the student manage the information presented in the chapters. . . . Each chapter has clear objectives and a set of key words that the student ought to be able to define and describe after reading [the] chapter. There are a number of text-boxes containing parallel literature . . . or longer quotes from contemporary scholarship. Some boxes deal with theological issues. . . . These books are well-designed for use in a classroom. My impression is that they will be welcome in a conservative undergraduate environment, although there is enough depth in each book that they could be used in Introduction courses at the seminary level. . . . Both books would be excellent for an interested layperson who wants to develop their knowledge of the Old and New Testaments."

Phillip J. Long,

Reading Acts blog