More books about historical context and authorship of the Bible?

First, thank you so much for the excellent recommendations when I came here a few months ago asking for books about Genesis. I’ve already read three of John Walton’s books and listened to quite a bit of the Bible Project podcast. They have been so helpful. However, I would love to read more authors that are similar to Walton, but for the rest of the Bible.

It seems that most books on the Bible are about theology and how to apply the lessons to your life. I’m trying to find more books on the historical context of each scripture. I know there are plenty of books about the authorship of the Pentateuch, but I am wondering if there are others that discuss the historical context of the Prophets, especially controversies about the authorship of Isaiah and Daniel. I’m open to recommendations from conservative or liberal scholars.


One that I know of that gives a good overview of historical context of the Old Testament generally, but not very much on authorship, is On the Reliability of the Old Testament, by K. A. Kitchen. He is an ancient Near-East archeologist by training, and is essentially demonstrating that “none of the Bible could be true”-type approaches tend to produce problems.

You might check out J. Richard Middleton. Here is a podcast where he talks about his specific interests, which include ANE context for image of God and a new book on eschatology.

You might also like the Story of God commentary series that Zondervan is putting out. The general editor for the OT books is Tremper Longman. They have sections that deal with authorship and textual criticism issues, and the volume on Daniel just came out.
I haven’t read it, but I have looked through the Genesis commentary and assume it’s a similar setup. I don’t think you are going to find lay-level monographs on author controversies, since that is usually something that is handled in commentaries, not treated as a topic by itself. But I could be wrong.

Interesting question. I would suggest An Introduction to the Old Testament by Tremper Longman III (or other similar introductions). It addresses each book of the OT and provides a bibliography for each which could keep you busy for quite a while. The level of detail is probably lighter than what you are looking for but might point you to more in-depth resources.

I recommend the HarperCollins Study Bible, produced by the Society of Biblical Literature. And the OT translations by Robert Alter, which are stuffed with scholarly commentary (sometimes longer than the text!). You can get Alter’s whole OT (expensive), or individual books/groupings of books.

You might also try to get these resources as interlibrary loans, to see what they are like before you commit to buying.

Thanks for all the responses so far. I’ll try to respond to everyone in this one block, but I can split it if that works better.

Paraleptopecten, while looking into that book, it seems that many people also recommend William Schniedewind’s How the Bible became a Book, for a similar perspective on the validity of authorship claims. Do you or anyone else know enough to compare the two?

Christy, I always appreciate your recommendations. That Story of God series looks awesome, and while they’ve assigned every novel, it seems only 1/2 of them have come out, with the last one being 1 Peter in 2017. Their website lists it as a 10 year project, so I worry about that delay. Regardless, I think the Daniel volume will be really helpful, and I hope they keep working on the rest.

Bill_II I’ve seen that book recommended multiple places! I will have to look into it. I am currently reading the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Bible, which has brief introductions to each book and major theme. I wonder if this will cover similar material, or provide more depth.

beaglelady I’ve also seen that Study Bible recommended, and I think that will be my next one after I finish the NIV Cultural Backgrounds. I like the idea of trying before I buy, and I noticed that most of these books are available on kindle. So that means I can download a sample, which usually includes the first chapter.

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I do not. I have not encountered that volume.

The two resources are trying to cover different things. Introduction covers the background of the text and the NIV covers the cultural background in the text.

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