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Introducing the Old Testament

A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey

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"Packed with useful information. It deserves a place on every undergraduate religion major's shelf."--Christian Century

This lively, engaging introduction to the Old Testament is critical and theological, lavishly illustrated, and accompanied by a variety of pedagogical aids. It serves as the Old Testament counterpart to Mark Allan Powell's successful Introducing the New Testament (over 105,000 copies sold).

Introducing the Old Testament presents disputed and controversial issues fairly, neither dictating conclusions nor privileging skepticism over faith-based perspectives. The full-color interior is illustrated with photographs and fine art and includes sidebars, maps, a glossary, and further reading suggestions.

A companion website through Baker Academic's Textbook eSources features a wealth of additional resources for students and instructors. Resources for students include chapter objectives, study questions, flash cards, and self-quizzes. Resources for professors include chapter objectives, discussion prompts, pedagogical suggestions, PowerPoint slides, and a test/quiz bank.


Part 1: The Old Testament: Context and Scope
1. The Old Testament World
2. The Old Testament Writings
Part 2: From Creation to Inheritance
3. The Pentateuch
4. Genesis
5. Exodus
6. Leviticus
7. Numbers
8. Deuteronomy
Part 3: Stories of Land, Loss, and Homecoming
9. The Historical Books
10. Joshua
11. Judges
12. Ruth
13. 1-2 Samuel
14. 1-2 Kings
15. 1-2 Chronicles
16. Ezra-Nehemiah
17. Esther
Part 4: Poetic Collections
18. Poetry, the Poetic Books, and Wisdom
19. Job
20. Psalms
21. Proverbs
22. Ecclesiastes
23. Song of Songs
Part 5: Prophetic Literature
24. Prophecy and the Prophetic Books
25. Isaiah
26. Jeremiah
27. Lamentations
28. Ezekiel
29. Daniel
30. Hosea
31. Joel
32. Amos
33. Obadiah
34. Jonah
35. Micah
36. Nahum
37. Habakkuk
38. Zephaniah
39. Haggai
40. Zechariah
41. Malachi


"This rich multidimensional study will be the state-of-the-art introduction to the Old Testament for some time to come. In addition to a book-by-book introduction, this valuable resource by these two accomplished scholars includes much useful information concerning ancient Near Eastern history, geography, and cultural context and concerning alternative theological interpretations, canon, and studies of personalities. This information-packed book is made even more attractive by insightful artwork and witty links to contemporary life. The authors note that one does not 'read' a library but 'study' it. That is what they do with the library of the Old Testament: they study it. And they invite the reader to study it with them as they guide, instruct, and persuade."

Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary (emeritus)

"In Introducing the Old Testament, Jacobson and Chan offer an excellent resource for studying and teaching the Old Testament. Drawing on their years of experience as educators, the authors have clearly thought about diverse audiences when writing this book. The book's organization is clear and easy to follow, focusing especially on historical, literary, and theological themes in the Old Testament. In addition to its insightful scholarship, Introducing the Old Testament includes many maps, images, artistic pieces, and online resources that assist and enhance biblical study. Overall, Jacobson and Chan provide a wealth of knowledge in this critical, creative, and visually stimulating volume."

Jaime L. Waters, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

"This is a textbook written by top-notch scholars who are also extraordinary teachers. Their love of Old Testament study and their commitment to student learning shine through in every chapter. With an affable voice, good humor, and rigorous scholarship, the book offers hospitality to all students, whether they come to the Old Testament classroom with enthusiasm, reluctance, or indifference. Jacobson and Chan approach their subject with joy and humility rather than dogmatism, always keeping the biblical text and its world at the center of their analysis. I can't wait to use this book in my seminary courses!"

Cameron Howard, associate professor of Old Testament, Luther Seminary

"Choosing textbooks for teaching introductory courses on the Old Testament is one of the more important and difficult pedagogical decisions, given the sheer scope of the Old Testament material and the range of hermeneutical and theological topics. Jacobson and Chan have written a resource that is both thorough and accessible for students from a wide range of theological backgrounds."

Bo Lim, professor of Old Testament, Seattle Pacific University

"In this impressive volume, Jacobson and Chan have sought to present readers with something that is 'beautiful, well organized, and easy to use.' They (and Baker Academic) have succeeded admirably on all of these fronts and yet still more: here is an engagement of the Old Testament that pays equal attention to its theological, literary, and historical depths, that is accompanied by numerous readerly helps, and that is handsomely illustrated and spiritedly written to boot. I predict this introduction, unlike so many others presently on the market, will have a very long shelf life, with enduring usefulness in a wide range of classroom settings."

Brent A. Strawn, D. Moody Smith Distinguished Professor of Old Testament and professor of law, Duke Universityf

"Jacobson and Chan have produced an attractive and accessible textbook that is well-grounded in contemporary scholarship. They are evenhanded and irenic in their approach, offering balanced discussions of major issues in Old Testament interpretation. Moreover, they accomplish this with a light and humorous touch. Students will appreciate this text!"

David N. DeJong, assistant professor of biblical studies, Hope College

The Authors

  1. Rolf A. Jacobson

    Rolf A. Jacobson

    Rolf A. Jacobson (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is professor of Old Testament and the Alvin N. Rogness Chair of Scripture, Theology, and Ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the coauthor, with...

    Continue reading about Rolf A. Jacobson

  2. Michael J. Chan

    Michael J. Chan

    Michael J. Chan (PhD, Emory University) is executive director for faith and learning at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. He previously taught at Luther Seminary. He has written numerous books and articles related to the Old Testament and is a...

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"This enormous introduction to the Old Testament, which proceeds book by book, is packed with useful information: scholarship about the social and linguistic context presented in understandable prose, sidebars with critical questions, maps and charts, digressions that delve into controversial topics, and illustrations from the history of art. It deserves a place on every undergraduate religion major's shelf, and pastors will benefit from having it around as well."

Christian Century