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IVP Bible Background Commentary Old Testament


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This commentary can also be purchased as part of a two-volume set.

The narratives, genealogies, laws, poetry, proverbs and prophecies of the Old Testament are deeply rooted in history. Archaeologists, historians and social scientists have greatly advanced our knowledge of the ancient world of the Bible. When we illuminate the stories of Abraham or David, the imagery of the Psalms or Proverbs, or the prophecies of Isaiah or Jeremiah with this backlight of culture and history, these texts spring to new life.

This unique commentary joins The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament in offering historical, social and cultural background for the Bible. From Genesis to Malachi, it gathers and condenses an abundance of specialized knowledge and makes it available to readers of the Old Testament. It will enrich your study of these biblical books in a way that no other commentary can do.


  • Historical, social and cultural background for every passage in the Old Testament. Written in clear, non-technical language.
  • A glossary of historical terms, ancient peoples, texts and inscriptions
  • Introductory essays on the background of each Old Testament book

From the Introduction

"This book is an attempt to fill a particular niche in the vast field of one volume commentaries on the Bible. Rather than addressing all the varied elements of theology, literary structure, word meanings, history of scholarship, and so on, we have focused on the task of providing background information to the text...We are trying to shed light on the Israelite culture and worldview. Why? When we read the Bible as a community of faith, we want to draw as much theological content out of the text as possible. As a result people tend to read theological significance into the details. There is an inclination to read our own cultural biases and our own perspectives and worldview into the text as a basis for understanding theological significance if we are not alerted to the differences that existed in the Israelite way of thinking. The larger ancient Near Eastern world becomes significant in that many times it can serve as a window to the Israelite culture. In many cases, by offering insight into the Israelite or ancient Near Eastern way of thinking, this book can help the interpreter avoid erroneous conclusions. So, for instance, the theological significance of the pillar of fire, the scapegoat or the Urim and Thummim can be understood in new ways once we make connections to the general culture of the ancient Near East..."

About the Author(s)

John H. Walton is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Moody Bible Institute. His several books include Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context, Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament, and (with Andrew E. Hill) A Survey of the Old Testament.

Victor H. Matthews is professor of religion at Southwest Missouri State University. He has written several books on the Old Testament including Manners and Customs in the Bible: An Illustrated Guide to Life in Bible Times, (with James Moyer) The Old Testament: Text and Context, and (with Don C. Benjamin) The Social World of Ancient Israel.

Mark W. Chavalas is professor of history at University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse. He is editor of Emar: The History, Religion, and Culture of a Syrian Town in the Late Bronze Age, (with John L. Hayes) New Horizons in the Study of Ancient Syria, and (with K.L. Younger, Jr.) Syria-Mesopotamia and the Bible.

System Requirements

Installed size (unless otherwise indicated): Approximately 4.375 MB. iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch Requires iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later. Download size: 4.375 MB. Android Requires Android OS 2.2 or later. Download size: 4.375 MB. Windows Phone Requires Windows Phone 7.5 or later. Download size: 4.375 MB. Windows Store Download size: 4.375 MB. Windows PC Requires Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7, or later. Download size: 2.875 MB. Mac OS X Requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later. Download size: 4.375 MB. Windows Mobile Requires Pocket PC / Windows Mobile version 6.5 or earlier. Download size: 2.875 MB. Palm OS Requires Palm OS 5.0 or later. Download size: 2.625 MB.

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