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The Old Testament

A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures

Third Edition

Michael D. Coogan

Publication Date - November 2013

ISBN: 9780199946617

608 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $76.95

The best-selling and most reasonably priced full introduction to the Old Testament


Lucidly written by leading biblical scholar Michael D. Coogan, this balanced, engaging, and up-to-date introduction to the Hebrew scriptures distills the best of current scholarship. Employing the narrative chronology of the Bible itself and the history of the ancient Near East as a framework, Coogan covers all the books of the Hebrew Bible, along with the deuterocanonical books included in the Bible used by many Christians. He works from a primarily historical and critical methodology but also introduces students to literary analysis and other interpretive strategies.

A FREE 6-month subscription to Oxford Biblical Studies Online (www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com)--a $180 value--is included with the purchase of every new copy of this text.


This text is available in a discounted package with The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version, College Edition, Fourth Edition. To assign this package, order package ISBN 978-0-19-935856-4. For additional Bibles and packaging options, contact your Oxford University Press Representative at 800.280.0280

New to this Edition

  • Updates and revisions throughout, including new material on recent archaeological discoveries, new translations of many of the ancient texts, and new and revised maps and illustrations
  • A new Table of Weights and Measures that provides modern equivalents for biblical weights and measures
  • Expanded study aids at the end of each chapter, including additional "Important Terms," expanded "Questions for Review" sections, and updated bibliographies
  • An updated Instructor's Manual with Computerized Test Bank on CD
  • An updated Companion Website at www.oup.com/us/coogan containing numerous resources for students and instructors

About the Author(s)

Michael D. Coogan is Lecturer on Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at the Harvard Divinity School and the Director of Publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum. He is the author of A Reader of Ancient Near Eastern Texts (2012), A Brief Introduction to the New Testament, Second Edition (2011), and The Old Testament: A Very Short Introduction (2008), all published by Oxford University Press.

Previous Publication Date(s)

January 2010
December 2005


"Outstanding. The Old Testament's main strengths are its breadth of coverage, thoroughness, excellent illustrations, and sidebars. I find the writing style to be engaging and clear."--Sidnie Crawford, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Table of Contents

    *=New to this Edition
    1. What is the Old Testament?
    The Jewish Canon
    Box 1.1 Chapter and Verse
    The Christian Canons
    Box 1.2 The Canons of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
    A Look Back and Ahead
    2. The Promised Land: Geography, History, and Importance
    Box 2.1 Timeline
    Box 2.2 The Land of Israel in Jewish and Christian Tradition
    A Look Back and Ahead
    3. Creations (Genesis 1-3 )
    The Book of Genesis
    Genesis 1 and the Sabbath
    Box 3.1 Genesis and Science
    Box 3.2 The Sabbath in Jewish and Christian Tradition
    The Second Account of Creation
    Box 3.3 Myth and the Bible
    Box 3.4 The Garden of Eden
    Box 3.5 "God" and "the LORD (God)"
    A Look Back and Ahead
    Box 3.6 Adam and Eve in Jewish and Christian Tradition
    4. The Formation of the Pentateuch
    The Traditional View
    The Development of Modern Interpretation
    A Summary of the Documentary Hypothesis
    * Box 4.1 The Documentary Hypothesis at Work
    The Formation of the Pentateuch
    Challenges to the Documentary Hypothesis
    Other Strategies for Interpreting the Pentateuch
    A Look Back and Ahead
    5. Primeval History (Genesis 4-11)
    J (the Yahwist Source)
    Box 5.1 Cain and Abel
    Box 5.2 Noah's Drunkenness
    Box 5.3 The Sons of God
    P (the Priestly Source)
    Box 5.4 The Tower of Babel
    Box 5.5 The Table of Nations
    Box 5.6 Enoch
    The Flood
    A Look Back and Ahead
    6. The Ancestors of Israel (Genesis 12-50)
    The Nature of the Narratives
    Source Criticism
    Box 6.1 Abram and Abraham, Sarai and Sarah
    Box 6.2 The Binding of Isaac
    Form Criticism
    Box 6.3 Circumcision
    Ancient Near Eastern Parallels
    The Joseph Narrative
    Box 6.4 The Ugaritic Texts
    The Ancestors of Israel
    Box 6.5 Abraham, Father of Believers
    History and the Ancestors of Israel
    The Religion of the Ancestors
    A Look Back and Ahead
    7. Escape from Egypt (Exodus 1-5)
    The Book of Exodus
    Exodus 1-15
    Box 7.1 Hebrew and Hebrews
    Box 7.2 Legends of Rescue
    Box 7.3 The Divine Name Yahweh
    Box 7.4 The Hardening of the Pharaoh's Heart
    Box 7.5 The Development of the Passover Celebration
    The Exodus and History
    The Exodus and the History of Religions
    A Look Back and Ahead
    8. From Egypt to Sinai (Exodus 16-20, 24)
    Incidents on the Journey
    Box 8.1 Manna
    Box 8.2 The Location of Sinai
    At Sinai
    Box 8.3 Excerpts from a Hittite Suzerainty Treaty
    The Ten Commandments
    The Ratification of the Covenant
    Box 8.4 The Status and Numbering of the Ten Commandments
    A Look Back and Ahead
    9. Law and Ritual (Exodus 20.22-23.33 and 25-40)
    Law in the Ancient Near East
    Box 9.1 Excerpt from the Code of Hammurapi
    The Covenant Code
    Box 9.2 "An Eye for an Eye"
    The Ark, the Tabernacle, and the Priestly Vestments and Ordination
    The Golden Calf
    Box 9.3 "Forty Days and Forty Nights"
    The Ritual Decalogue
    Box 9.4 An Ancient Hebrew Agricultural Calendar
    A Look Back and Ahead
    10. Ritual and Holiness (Leviticus)
    The Book of Leviticus
    Sacrifices (Lev 1-7)
    The Consecration Ceremonies and Their Aftermath (Lev 8-10)
    Purity and Impurity (Lev 11-15)
    The Day of Atonement (Lev 16)
    The Holiness Code (Lev 17-26)
    Box 10.1 Anointing
    * A Narrative Interlude: The Case of the Blasphemer (Lev 24.10-23)
    Women in Israelite Ritual and Law
    Box 10.2 Capital Punishment
    The Ethics of Leviticus
    A Look Back and Ahead
    11. In the Wilderness (Numbers)
    The Book of Numbers
    Preparations for the Journey
    Law, Ritual, and Purity
    The Chronology and Geography of the Wanderings
    Rebellions in the Wilderness
    Box 11.1 The Rebellions of the Israelites in Christian and Muslim Scriptures
    Box 11.2 Miriam
    Box 11.3 The Amalekites
    Opposition on the Journey
    Box 11.4 Excerpt from the Deir Alla Texts
    Preparations for the Entry into the Land
    A Look Back and Ahead
    12. The End of the Journey to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy)
    The Book of Deuteronomy
    Box 12.1 The Shema
    The Origins of Deuteronomy
    The Deuteronomic School
    Box 12.2 Parallel Curses in the Treaties of Esar-haddon and in Deuteronomy
    Moses in the Pentateuch
    Box 12.3 The Meanings of "Torah"
    A Look Back and Ahead
    13. Joshua and the Conquest of the Land of Canaan (Joshua)
    The Deuteronomistic History
    The Book of Joshua
    Box 13.1 Parallels Between Deuteronomy 27 and Joshua 8
    Box 13.2 Shechem in Biblical Tradition
    Box 13.3 Circumcision a Second Time?
    A Look Back and Ahead
    14. The Emergence of Israel in the Land of Canaan (Judges and Ruth)
    The Book of Judges
    Box 14.1 The Judges of Israel in the Book of Judges
    Box 14.2 The Moabites and the Ammonites
    Box 14.3 The Song of Deborah
    Box 14.4 The Philistines
    History and the Israelite Confederation
    The Book of Ruth
    A Look Back and Ahead
    15. The Establishment of the Monarchy (1 Samuel)
    The Book(s) of Samuel
    1 Samuel
    Box 15.1 Samuel in Other Traditions
    Box 15.2 Positive Assessments of Saul
    A Look Back and Ahead
    16. The Reign of David (2 Samuel, 1 Kings 1-2, and Psalm 132)
    2 Samuel
    Box 16.1 David's Compositions
    Box 16.2 Jerusalem
    A Look Back and Ahead
    Box 16.3 Psalm 132
    17. The Reign of Solomon (1 Kings 1-11 and Psalm 89)
    The Book(s) of Kings
    1 Kings 1-11
    Box 17.1 Solomon in Later Tradition
    Box 17.2 The Royal Psalms
    The Ideology of the Davidic Monarchy
    Box 17.3 The Psalms of Zion
    Box 17.4 The Royal Ideology in Later Traditions
    A Look Back and Ahead
    18. The Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah from the Late Tenth to the Early Eighth Centuries BCE (1 Kings 12-2 Kings 14)
    Box 18.1 Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah Late Tenth to Mid-eighth Centuries BCE
    Institutions and Society
    Prophets and Prophecy
    * Box 18.2 An Ancient Mesopotamian Prophecy
    Box 18.3 Prophets in Later Traditions
    The Legends of Elijah and Elisha
    Box 18.4 Elijah in Later Traditions
    A Look Back and Ahead
    19. The Northern Kingdom of Israel in the Eighth Century BCE (2 Kings 14-17, Amos, and Hosea)
    Box 19.1 Chronology of the Eighth Century BCE
    Prophetic Books and "Classical" Prophecy
    The Book of Amos
    Box 19.2 The Day of the Lord
    The Book of Hosea
    Box 19.3 Prophetic Attacks on Rituals
    Box 19.4 Marriage in Ancient Israel
    Box 19.5 God as Parent: Father or Mother?
    A Look Back and Ahead
    20. The Kingdom of Judah in the Eighth and Early Seventh Centuries BCE (2 Kings 15-20, 2 Chronicles 29-32, Isaiah 1-39, and Micah)
    Box 20.1 Chronology of the Eighth and Seventh Centuries BCE
    The Book of Isaiah
    Box 20.2 Isaiah in Later Traditions
    The Siege of Jerusalem in 734 BCE
    Box 20.3 The Identification of Immanuel
    The Assyrian Invasion of Judah in 701 BCE
    Box 20.4 Sennacherib's Third Campaign (701 BCE) According to the Assyrian Annals
    The Book of Micah
    Box 20.5 Hezekiah's Tunnel
    Box 20.6 The King From Bethlehem
    A Look Back and Ahead
    21. Judah in the Seventh Century BCE: The End of Assyrian Domination (2 Kings 21-23, 2 Chronicles 33-35, Zephaniah, Nahum, and the Prayer of Manasseh)
    Box 21.1 Chronology of the Seventh Century BCE
    The Reign of Manasseh
    Box 21.2 Ashurbanipal's Library
    The Reign of Josiah
    Box 21.3 Megiddo and Armageddon
    The Book of Zephaniah
    The Book of Nahum
    A Look Back and Ahead
    22. The Fall of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23.31-25.30, 2 Chronicles 36, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, and the Letter of
    Box 22.1 Chronology of the Late Seventh and Early Sixth Centuries BCE
    Box 22.2 Throne Names of Kings of Judah
    The Book of Habakkuk
    The Book of Jeremiah
    * Box 22.3 Jeremiah and the Lost Ark
    Box 22.4 Parallels Between Psalms and Jeremiah's Confessions
    Box 22.5 Jeremiah and the History of Bookmaking
    A Look Back and Ahead
    23. After the Fall: Jews in Judah and Babylon (Lamentations, Psalm 137, Obadiah, and Ezekiel)
    The Book of Lamentations
    Box 23.1 Acrostic Poems
    The Jews in Babylonia
    Box 23.2 Nebuchadrezzar's Wonders
    Psalm 137
    The Book of Obadiah
    The Book of Ezekiel
    Box 23.3 Yahweh as a Violent Husband
    Box 23.4 Leadership in the Restored Community
    Box 23.5 Gog of Magog
    A Look Back and Ahead
    24. Return From Exile (Ezra 1-2 and Isaiah 34-35 and 40-55)
    Box 24.1 Chronology of the Sixth Century BCE
    The Priestly Source of the Pentateuch
    The Exilic Edition of the Deuteronomistic History
    Isaiah 40- 55
    Box 24.2 The Development of Monotheism
    Box 24.3 Female Images of God
    A Look Back and Ahead
    25. The Early Restoration (Ezra 3-6, 1 Esdras, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, and Isaiah 56-66)
    * Box 25.1 Chronology of the Late Sixth Century BCE
    Ezra 3-6
    Box 25.2 Aramaic
    Box 25.3 The Books of Esdras
    The Book of Haggai
    Zechariah 1-8
    Isaiah 56-66
    A Look Back and Ahead
    26. Judah in the Fifth Century BCE (Ezra 7-10, Nehemiah, Isaiah 24-27, Zechariah 9-14, Joel, Malachi, and 2 Esdras)
    The Book(s) of Ezra and Nehemiah
    Box 26.1 Chronology of the Late Sixth to the Late Fourth Centuries BCE
    Box 26.2 The Elephantine Papyri
    Apocalyptic Literature
    The "Isaiah Apocalypse" (Isa 24- 27)
    Zechariah 9-14
    The Book of Joel
    The Book of Malachi
    Box 26.3 Second Esdras
    A Look Back and Ahead
    27. Traditions Rewritten and Consolidated (1-2 Chronicles, Psalms, and Proverbs)
    The Books of Chronicles
    Box 27.1 Samaria and the Samaritans
    Box 27.2 The Arrangement of the Genealogies of the Sons of Jacob (The Tribes of Israel) in Chronicles
    Box 27.3 Comparison of 2 Samuel 24.1-9 and 1 Chronicles 21.1-7
    The Book of Psalms
    Box 27.4 Parallelism
    Box 27.5 The Forms of the Psalms
    Box 27.6 Form-Critical Analysis of Psalm 3
    Music in Ancient Israel
    Wisdom Literature
    Box 27.7 Ahiqar and Proverbs
    The Book of Proverbs
    A Look Back and Ahead
    28. Dissidents and Lovers (Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon)
    The Book of Job
    Box 28.1 The Satan
    Box 28.2 "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth"
    Box 28.3 Behemoth and Leviathan
    Box 28.4 Job's Wife and Daughters
    Box 28.5 Job in Later Traditions
    The Book of Ecclesiastes
    The Development of Beliefs in Life after Death in Ancient Israel
    The Song of Solomon
    A Look Back and Ahead
    29. Encounters with the Greeks (1-2 Maccabees, Baruch, Sirach, the Wisdom of Solomon, and 4 Maccabees)
    Box 29.1 Rulers of Persia and Greece (Sixth to Fourth Centuries BCE)
    Box 29.2 Rulers of Egypt and Syria (Third to Second Centuries BCE)
    * Box 29.3 Chronology of High Priests in Jerusalem and of the Maccabees (Hasmoneans)
    Box 29.4 The Dead Sea Scrolls
    1 Maccabees
    Box 29.5 Hanukkah
    2 Maccabees
    The Book of Baruch
    The Wisdom of Jesus, Son of Sirach (also known as Ben Sira and Ecclesiasticus)
    Box 29.6 Different Views of Immortality in the Hebrew and Greek Texts of Ben Sira
    The Wisdom of Solomon
    Box 29.7 Contrasts in the Divine Treatment of the Egyptians and the Israelites During the Exodus
    Box 29.8 4 Maccabees
    A Look Back and Ahead
    30. Heroes under Foreign Rulers (Jonah, Esther, Additions to Esther, Judith, Tobit, 3 Maccabees, Daniel, and Additions to Daniel)
    The Book of Jonah
    The Book of Esther
    Box 30.1 The Festival of Purim
    The Book of Judith
    Box 30.2 Widows
    The Book of Tobit
    Box 30.3 Angels and Demons
    3 Maccabees
    The Book of Daniel
    Box 30.4 "Son of Man"
    Box 30.5 Outline of the Visions of Successive Kingdoms in the Book of Daniel
    A Look Back and Ahead
    General Bibliography
    * Weights and Measures