The Old Testament: A Concise Introduction

Brent A. Strawn
Published Year: 
Cover image of Professor Brent Strawn's new book

Brent A. Strawn, Ph.D., professor of Old Testament at Duke Divinity School, has written a concise guide introducing readers to the contents of the Old Testament and the most current questions in biblical scholarship.

The book, The Old Testament: A Concise Introduction, was published in October by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group). No background knowledge by readers is presumed in this easy-to-read, accessible, and reliable primer on the rich anthology of literatures that make up the Old Testament and the long history of biblical interpretation that students will encounter in the classroom.

The volume introduces readers to the three main sections of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and to the biblical books found in each. It is organized around two primary “stories”: the story that scholars tell about the Old Testament and the story the literature itself tells. Concluding with a reconsideration of the Old Testament as more like poetry than a story, three main chapters cover: The Pentateuch (Torah), The Prophets (Neviʾim), and The Writings (Ketuvim). The book includes explanatory charts, boxes, maps, and figures.

Strawn has been interested in the Old Testament since growing up in church partly because it was the “undiscovered country”—under-known and underutilized in his experience— and he sees it as indispensable for effective Christian faith and practice today. “While some people see only problems in the first three-quarters of the Bible, I see countless resources that can help the church lead the way in overcoming the most intractable problems of our time: poverty, racism, human and planetary suffering,” he stated. “The fact that the church has failed in leading the way on matters like this relates, I suspect, to so many Christians’ ignorance of the Old Testament and God’s full wisdom encapsulated in the entirety of Christian Scripture.”

Prior to joining the Duke Divinity School faculty in August, Strawn was the William Ragsdale Cannon Distinguished Professor of Old Testament at the Candler School of Theology and Graduate Division of Religion of Emory University, where he taught for eighteen years. He is also the author of The Old Testament Is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment, has edited more than 20 volumes including the award-winning The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Law, and was a member of the translation team and editorial board for The Common English Bible.

Read a feature article with Dr. Brent A. Strawn commenting on becoming a new Duke Divinity School faculty member and discussing his academic expertise in the Old Testament.