The Old Testament Story / Edition 9

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Exploring the Literary Structure of the Old Testament

The Old Testament Story is designed for readers with little or no knowledge of the Old Testament.

It provides complete background detail as it follows the story told by the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. In addition, it examines the separate biblical books and illustrates their literary structure.

Teaching and Learning Experience

Personalize Learning - MySearchLabdelivers proven results in helping students succeed, provides engaging experiences that personalize learning, and comes from a trusted partner with educational expertise and a deep commitment to helping students and instructors achieve their goals.

Improve Critical Thinking - The Old Testament Story’s background details provide students with sufficient information so that they can examine the Old Testament within context.

Engage Students - The Old Testament Story’s readable presentation draws students into the material.

Support Instructors - Teaching your course just got easier! You can create a Customized Text or use our Instructor’s Manual, or PowerPoint Presentation Slides. Plus, The Old Testament Story provides two levels of structure that will allow your students to analyze all 39 books of the Protestant Christian Old Testament/Hebrew Bible.

Note: MySearchLab does not come automatically packaged with this text. To purchase MySearchLab, please visit or you can purchase a valuepack of the text + MySearchLab (Vp ISBN-10: 0205185282, VP ISBN-13: 9780205185283)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205097838
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 3/14/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 9
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 324,231
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

In This Section:

I. Author Bio

II. Author Letter

I. Author Bio

Dr. Mark McEntire began teaching at Belmont in the Fall of 2000. He teaches introductory and advanced courses in Old Testament, as well as Hebrew language courses. In the summer of 2009, he led the Belmont Study Abroad program in South Africa and Botswana and just returned from leading a study abroad trip to Israel, Turkey, and Greece.

"I have lived in Africa twice, having left the second time in 1998. My return to the continent of Africa in 2009 taught me many things, including how much I have changed. I have become more and more aware of how our cultural and social experiences shape the way we understand the world and the way we read our sacred texts. Belmont is a great place for me to explore this idea, and to help introduce students the wide variety of ways of reading the Bible.

In the early part of my career, my research and writing was focused on the issue of violence and death in the Bible. This work produced a number of articles and presentations and two books.

Teaching at Belmont raised my interest in the intersection between the Bible and contemporary culture, and has given me great opportunities to explore this area of interest with the brilliantly creative students I work with here. One result of this exploration was a book I wrote along with Joel Emerson, a Belmont alumnus, pastor and musician.

Additionally, the exciting world of undergraduate teaching has energized me to work on classroom resources to help students as they learn about the Bible. It has been a great privilege to work with Dr. John Tullock, who was Professor Emeritus of Religion at Belmont until his recent death, on three previous editions of the introductory textbook, The Old Testament Story. This important part of Dr. Tullock's legacy now continues in its ninth edition.

I have also produced an introduction to the Pentateuch, designed specifically for use by undergraduate students. One of the greatest teaching opportunities I have ever had was using the manuscript of this book as a textbook in my course on the Pentateuch while it was still in progress!

My current work brings me back to the primary concentration of my work as a graduate student, the field of Old Testament Theology, but it also gathers together all of these other paths that my teaching, research, and writing have followed over the past two decades.

I am specifically interested in the way that God is presented as a narrative character in the story that the Old Testament tells. I have just published an article called ‘The God at the End of the Story: Are Biblical Theology and Narrative Character Development Compatible?’

In fact, I presented this idea in early form to my Old Testament Theology class at Belmont in the Spring 2009 semester and enjoyed the productive interaction with the students in the class. This experience exemplifies the way that my roles as teacher and scholar are able to nourish each other in the great learning environment that Belmont offers."


II. Author Letter

Dear Colleague,

2011 is a momentous year for The Old Testament Story. Within days after the completion of the 9th edition, the original author, Dr. John Tullock, passed away. This textbook is an important part of his legacy, and I am proud to guide the project into its fourth decade. John began this project over thirty years ago because, at that time, there was not an introductory textbook on the Old Testament written specifically for undergraduate students. The field has become more crowded in recent years, but The Old Testament Story continues to occupy important territory because of its focus on undergraduate instruction and the careful balance it maintains between a commitment to the Old Testament as scripture for the church and a determination to bring the best of rigorous, critical scholarship to the study of this ancient and beautiful text.

My work on the revisions which produced the 6th, 7th, and 8th editions sought to add new material and perspectives to keep the book up to date with current scholarship, to revise existing material in order to maintain and improve its usefulness, and to adapt the voice of the book so that it could speak most effectively to each new generation of students. While all of these efforts still went into the 9th edition, this is also the first time the book has undergone a major reorganization.

A seismic shift has taken place in the field of biblical studies over the past four decades. New material has been added to The Old Testament Story all along to give proper attention to these sweeping changes, but the book has retained its basic shape throughout these years. At this point, though, the new perspectives of our field have reached a level of maturity such that it is appropriate for them not simply to add onto, but to reorient undergraduate pedagogy.

Perhaps the most important part of this shift for us is the new emphasis on the reading of whole biblical books as carefully crafted works of literature. While it was possible to revise the first six chapters of The Old Testament Story to match this new direction, it was necessary to reorganize chapters seven through twelve to meet this need. The primary change this brought about was the extraction of the material on the prophetic literature from the chapters which treat the narrative of the monarchy, so that it can stand on its own, giving adequate attention to the four great scrolls of the Latter Prophets in their canonical form.

I am delighted that in the fall semester of 2011 I will once again be teaching two sections of "Introduction to the Old Testament" at Belmont University. My interaction with students who are reading this book every day is the most valuable resource in my continuing effort to make it better. I hope that you and your students find this book useful, and if you have any questions about it or ideas about how to improve it, please do not hesitate to contact me at .


Mark McEntire

Belmont University

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Table of Contents

Bibliographical Abbreviations



1 The Book and Those Who Study It

The Old Testament: What Is It?

How it Began

How It Developed

The Work of Scholars

Archaeology as a Tool for Understanding

Why Study the Old Testament?

Study Questions


2 The Geographical and Historical Settings for the Old Testament

Prior to 1200 B. C. E.

The Ancient Near East


Asia Minor


Syria- Phoenicia


Study Questions


3 Israel Looks at the Beginnings

The Primeval Complex

The Ancestral Complex

Genesis in Retrospect

Study Questions


4 Israel Becomes a People

The Book of Israel’s Beginnings

Moses: Birth and Wilderness Years

Moses: The Struggle with Pharaoh

The Exodus Event

Sinai and the Giving of the Law

After Mount Sinai

Themes in the Pentateuch

Study Questions


5 Israel Gains a Home: Joshua and Judges

Moving into the Promised Land

Continuing the Story of Occupation

Proposed Models for the Israelite Occupation of Canaan

Study Questions


6 The Beginning of the Monarchy: Samuel, Saul, and David

The Sources for the History of the Israelite Kingdoms

The Story of Samuel

The Establishment of Saul’s Kingship

The Appearance of David

Samuel, Saul, and David: A Summary

David: King Over Judah

David: King Over All Israel

The Court History of David

Study Questions


7 The Division of the Monarchy I: The Reign of Solomon and the Story of the

Northern Kingdom

Reign of Solomon

Approaching the Divided-Kingdom Story

The Division of the Kingdom

The Dynasty of Omri

Elijah’s Confrontation with Ahab and Jezebel

Jehu to Jereboam II (842—746 B. C. E.)

The Destruction of the Northern Kingdom

Study Questions


8 The Division of the Monarchy II: The Story of the Southern Kingdom

Judah after the Division

Judah after the Destruction of Israel

Study Questions


9 The Exile and Restoration

After the Fall of Jerusalem

The Lives of the Survivors

The Collapse of the Babylonian Empire

The Changing International Situation (538—486 b.c.e.)

The Restored Community

Ezra and Nehemiah

Study Questions


10 The Prophetic Literature I: An Introduction to Prophetic Literature and the Book

of Isaiah

An Introduction to Prophetic Literature

Introduction to the Book of Isaiah

A Survey of the Contents of the Book of Isaiah

Summary of Isaiah

Study Questions


11 The Prophetic Literature II: The Scrolls of Jeremiah and Ezekiel

Introduction to the Book of Jeremiah

Survey of the Contents of the Book of Jeremiah

Introduction to the Book of Ezekiel

Survey of the Contents of the Book of Ezekiel

Study Questions


12 The Prophetic Literature III: The Book of the Twelve and the Continuation of the

Prophetic Tradition

Introduction to the Book of the Twelve

The Opening Sequence: Hosea, Joel, and Amos

Jerusalem and Nineveh: Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, and Nahum

Shifting the Focus to Babylon: Habakkuk and Zephaniah

The Prophets of the Restoration: Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi

The End of Prophecy?

Study Questions


13 A Legacy of Israel: Teachers of Wisdom and Singers of Songs

The Wisdom Literature

The Psalms: Israel Sings Its Faith

Study Questions


14 The Time of Silence: Judah in Eclipse

The Historical Situation

The Festival Scrolls

Defining and Establishing a Place in the World

The Maccabean Revolt

Geographical and Canonical Boundaries and the Book of Daniel

Study Questions


15 Epilogue: The Continuing Story

Life in Jewish Communities

The Development of Sectarian Judaism

Literary Activity

Judaism’s Oral Tradition

A Closing Statement

Study Questions



For Further Study

Comprehensive Chronological Chart


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