The Understandable Old Testament

I do not preach from the Old Testament (enough). I do not understand it to the depth I desire so as to preach from it. I have not grasped the background, the context(s) of passages and the theological principles. I have frequently asked, “Do I have to preach from the Old Testament?” I ask this because preaching from passages with which you are unfamiliar is intimidating.

Richard Hess’ The Old Testament bridges unfamiliarity to comprehension. He presents the Old Testament in a comprehensible and thorough manner where scholars will find the information enough to peak curiosity for research and students/pastors will be satisfied with the depth to which the author takes the reader.

Hess’ book is unlike other surveys of the Old Testament. What the reader finds is a methodical, systematized presentation of each book of the Hebrew Bible. In this presentation, the reader will find the “name of the text, outline, overview, pre-modern readings, source criticism, tradition history, literary readings, gender and ideological criticism, Ancient Near Eastern context, canonical context, and theological perspectives” (Genesis, 25-50). I also appreciate the introduction to the formation of the Hebrew Bible and different manuscript tradition(s). Hess also provides a list of “key commentaries and studies” at the end of each chapter to point curious readers to further research.

This textbook belongs in the classrooms where Old Testament is taught. Whether they be survey classes at the undergraduate level, graduate religion or seminary classes, or divinity school’s, this book is accessible to all students. I might also mention this work makes the Old Testament more accessible to the layperson. Lay people are key to God’s kingdom work, and Hess has provided the church a magnificent resource for understanding God’s message that is the Old Testament.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Academic through the Baker Academic Blogger Review Program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Review posted to Amazon:


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