The Hebrew Prophets and Their Social World, 2nd Edition

An Introduction

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Social World of the Hebrew Prophets is an introduction to the Hebrew Prophets and the social world of which they spoke. Matthews examines ancient Israel's prophets chronologically, providing sketches of their historical contexts. He explains pertinent aspects of historical geography, economic conditions, and social forces that influence a prophet's life and message. This analysis includes many of the images and metaphors a prophet used to communicate effectively. Thus, for example, the reader only skims the surface of a text without understanding what it meant to be a member of Tekoa's community of hill country farmers and herders, or what an exiled Levite from Anathoth experienced as a prophet in Jerusalem.


"Several features of the work enhance its utility as a textbook. Key terms ('apocalyptic' or 'canon,' for example) appearing in the body of the text in bold print are defined in the glossary. It is concise: Matthews chooses wisely the issues and passages to be discussed. Yet, it is comprehensive: following introductory chapters on 'Historical Geography' and 'Defining and Describing the Prophets,' chapters introduce the prophets, including those who did not leave books bearing their names, by historical era from Moses and Balaam to Joel and Daniel. Matthews includes a useful 'Select Bibliography' supplemented by web addresses for on-line bibliographies prepared specifically as companions for Social World. In sum, Social World of the Hebrew Prophets is a fine textbook for secondary and college-level study."--Mark Biddle, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, VA

The Author

  1. Victor H. Matthews

    Victor H. Matthews

    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 thirty years. He is the author of numerous...

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"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."--Interpretation

"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, Heythrop Journal

"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."--Patricia Dutcher-Walls, 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., Themelios

"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."--Restoration Quarterly

"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