The importance of the Old Testament for believers today cannot be overstated. But neither can it be overstated how often and how much the OT is ignored by contemporary Christians. This is a tragedy, and a long-standing one. Back in 1523 Martin Luther published his German translation of the Pentateuch. In his preface he said, in part:
There are some who have little regard for the Old Testament. They think of it as a book that was given to the Jewish people only and is now out of date, containing only stories of past times. . . . But Christ says in John 5, “Search the Scriptures, for it is they that bear witness to me.” . . . [T]he Scriptures of the Old Testament are not to be despised but diligently read. . . . Therefore dismiss your own opinions and feelings and think of the Scriptures as the loftiest and noblest of holy things, as the richest of mines which can never be sufficiently explored, in order that you may find that divine wisdom which God here lays before you in such simple guise as to quench all pride. Here you will find the swaddling cloths and the manger in which Christ lies. . . . Simple and lowly are these swaddling cloths, but dear is the treasure, Christ, who lies in them.
Amen to that. So in part to rectify that, I offer this listing of helpful books on and about the Old Testament. However I may have things a bit backwards here, given that I just completed a series of articles on “Bible Study Tools” for the Old Testament.
Since I encourage Christians each new year to read three and a bit chapters a day in order to read through the entire Bible in a year, over the past 8 months or so I have posted almost 20 articles on the various OT books, offering helps, introductions, theology, and recommended reading lists.
Thus this article should have first appeared back in January. But offering it here at the end of my series on OT pieces is OK as well. As to the recommendations offered here, it must be stated that there are countless thousands of books on the Old Testament, far more to cover here in any reasonable sort of fashion.
So this list will be rather selective. They pretty much all reflect a conservative and/or evangelical approach to Scripture and theology, and they are mostly all penned within the past few decades. These 60 volumes are divided into two main groupings: general titles, and books on the reliability of the Old Testament. They are all helpful guides, and well worth reading.
General: Old Testament introductions, surveys, theologies, etc.
Alexander, T.D., From Paradise to the Promised Land: An Introduction to the Main Themes of the Pentateuch. Paternoster, 1995.
Arnold, Bill and Brent Strawn, eds., The World Around the Old Testament: The People and Places of the Ancient Near East. Baker, 2016.
Baker, David and Bill Arnold, The Face of Old Testament Studies. Baker Books, 1999.
Baylis, Albert, From Creation to the Cross. Zondervan, 1996.
Beale, Greg, ed., The Right Doctrines from the Wrong Texts: Essays on the Use of the Old Testament in the New. Baker, 1994.
Bright, John, A History of Israel. Westminster, 1960.
Brueggemann, Walter, An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination. John Knox Press, 2003.
Brueggemann, Walter, Theology of the Old Testament. Augsburg Fortress, 1977.
Dillard, Raymond and Tremper Longman, An Introduction to the Old Testament. Zondervan, 1994.
Dorsey, David, The Literary Structure Of The Old Testament: A Commentary On Genesis-Malachi. Baker, 2004.
Dumbrell, William, The Faith of Israel: A Theological Survey of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. Baker, 2002.
Dyrness, William. Themes in Old Testament Theology. IVP, 1977.
Goldingay, John, An Introduction to the Old Testament: Exploring Text Approaches and Issues. SPCK, 2016.
Goldingay, John, Key Questions about Christian Faith: Old Testament Answers. Baker, 2010.
Goldingay, John, Old Testament Theology, vol. 1: Israel’s Gospel. IVP, 2003.
Goldingay, John, Old Testament Theology, vol. 2: Israel’s Faith. IVP, 2006.
Goldingay, John, Old Testament Theology, vol. 3: Israel’s Life. IVP, 2009.
Harrison, R.K., Introduction to the Old Testament. Eerdmans, 1969.
Harrison, R.K., Old Testament Times. Eerdmans, 1970.
House, Paul, Old Testament Theology. IVP, 1998.
Howard, David and Michael Grisanti, eds., Giving the Sense: Understanding and Using Old Testament Historical Texts. Apollos, 2003.
Hubbard, Robert and J. Andrew Dearman, Introducing the Old Testament. Eerdmans, 2018.
Hubbard, Robert, Robert Johnston and Robert Meye, eds., Studies in Old Testament Theology. Word, 1992.
Kaiser, Walter, A History of Israel: From the Bronze Age Through the Jewish Wars. Broadman and Holman, 1998.
Kaiser, Walter, Mission in the Old Testament. Baker, 2000.
Kaiser, Walter, Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament. Baker, 2003.
Kaiser, Walter, Toward Old Testament Ethics. Zondervan, 1983.
Kaiser, Walter, Toward an Old Testament Theology. Zondervan, 1978.
Knight, George, A Christian Theology of the Old Testament. Paternoster, 1959, 1998.
Lasor, William, David Hubbard and Frederic Bush, Old Testament Survey, 2nd ed. Eerdmans, 1996.
Longman, Tremper, Making Sense of the Old Testament. Baker, 1998.
Martens, Elmer, God’s Design: A Focus on Old Testament Theology. Bibal Press, 1998.
Merrill, Eugene, Mark Rooker and Michael A. Grisanti, The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament. B&H, 2011.
Motyer, Alec, 6 Ways the Old Testament Speaks Today. Crossway, 1994, 2018.
Motyer, Alec, Look to the Rock: An Old Testament Background to Our Understanding of Christ. IVP, 1996.
Motyer, Alec, The Story of the Old Testament. Baker, 2001.
Pfeiffer, Charles, Old Testament History. Baker, 1973.
Pratt, Richard, He Gave Us Stories: The Bible Student’s Guide to Interpreting Old Testament Narratives. P&R, 1993.
Richter, Sandra, The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament. IVP, 2008.
Routledge, Robin, Old Testament Theology: A Thematic Approach. Apollos, 2008.
Sandy, D. and R. Giese, eds., Cracking Old Testament Codes: A Guide to Interpreting the Literary Genres of the Old Testament. Broadman and Holman, 1995.
Schultz, Samuel, The Old Testament Speaks. Harper and Row, 1960.
Waltke, Bruce, An Old Testament Theology. Zondervan, 2007.
Walton, John, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament. Baker, 2006.
Walton, John, Old Testament Theology for Christians: From Ancient Context to Enduring Belief. IVP, 2017.
Walton, John and Andrew Hill, A Survey of the Old Testament. Zondervan, 1991.
Walton, John and Andrew Hill, Old Testament Today: A Journey from Original Meaning to Contemporary Significance. Zondervan, 2004.
Wright, Chris, God’s People in God’s Land. Eerdmans, 1990.
Wright, Chris, Knowing God the Father Through the Old Testament. Monarch, 2007.
Wright, Chris, Knowing the Holy Spirit Through the Old Testament. Monarch, 2006.
Wright, Chris, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. Marshall Pickering, 1992.
Wright, Chris, Living as the People of God: The Relevance of Old Testament Ethics. IVP, 1983.
Wright, Chris, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. IVP, 2006.
Yancey, Philip, The Bible Jesus Read. Zondervan, 1999.
Youngblood, Ronald, The Heart of the Old Testament. Baker, 1971, 1998.
The Reliability of the Old Testament; The Historicity of Israel
Arnold, Bill and Richard Hess, Ancient Israel’s History: An Introduction to Issues and Sources. Baker, 2014.
Dever, William, What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel. Eerdmans, 2001.
Dever, William, Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? Eerdmans, 2003.
Kaiser, Walter, The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant? IVP, 2001.
Kitchen, K.A., On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Eerdmans, 2003.
Long, V. Philips, Tremper Longman and Iain W. Provan, A Biblical History of Israel. Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.
Long, V. Philips, David Baker, and Gordon Wenham, eds., Windows into Old Testament History: Evidence, Argument, and the Crisis of Biblical Israel. Eerdmans, 2002.
Once again, there are a lot of titles here. If folks want me to narrow things down a bit, let me do so by simply highlighting a few authors who are always great value, and any of their works would be well worth getting and reading. They are: Goldingay, Kaiser, Motyer and Wright.