The Hebrew Bible for Beginners

A Jewish & Christian Introduction

By Joel S. Kaminsky, Joel N. Lohr Published
Paperback image ISBN: 9781426775635 $39.99 Buy
eBook image ISBN: 9781426775642 $39.99 Buy
An engaging introduction showing how the Hebrew Bible forms faith, then and now.Jews call the Hebrew Scriptures the “Tanakh” and Christians call them the “Old Testament.” It doesn't take long to see that Jews and Christians view the same set of books differently and interpret these scriptures in unique and at times conflicting ways. The Hebrew Bible for Beginners introduces students to the tremendous influence the Hebrew Bible has had on western society for over two millennia and explores the complexities of reading ancient religious literature today. The book also addresses how certain modern critical approaches may initially be alarming, indeed even shocking, to those who have not been exposed to them, but it tackles the conversation in a respectful fashion. Avoiding jargon and convoluted prose, this highly accessible volume provides textboxes, charts, a timeline, a glossary, and regularly includes artistic renderings of biblical scenes to keep lay and beginning readers engaged.


The Hebrew Bible for Beginners is an accessible yet sophisticated and remarkably clear introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Kaminsky and Lohr have written a thoughtful and current introduction that considers new material and archaeological evidence. It exhibits great sensitivity to the Hebrew Bible as a living tradition for both Jewish and Christian communities. . . . The discussion of feminist interpretation and new methods and integration of an important discussion of the Dead Sea Scrolls is to be commended. The introduction is theologically sensitive and interpretively attentive. A great introduction of beginning students for the Hebrew Bible.”

—Hindy Najman, Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford

“One could hardly ask for a better introduction to the Hebrew Bible than what is provided here by two distinguished biblical scholars. Beautifully written, the book provides an overview, not just of the content of each biblical book but also of controversies, critical issues, differences between Hebrew and Greek versions, and a venture into the different ways that Jews and Christians appropriate the Bible in their ongoing traditions. It is both accessible and interesting, excellent as a classroom text but clear enough for anyone to benefit, whether in a group or engaged in individual study.”

—Patrick D. Miller, Charles T. Haley Professor of Old Testament Theology Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary

“This extraordinarily accessible volume discusses the complications of a difficult book with exceptional clarity and fairness. The balance it strikes between what the biblical texts meant in their own times and how they have been taken in the Jewish and Christian traditions is refreshing. Highly recommended for readers from either of those religious traditions and for secular readers alike.”

—Jon D. Levenson, Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies, Harvard Divinity School

About the Authors

Joel S. Kaminsky

Joel S. Kaminsky is the Morningstar Family Professor of Jewish Studies and professor of Bible in the religion department at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Joel N. Lohr

Joel N. Lohr is the dean of religious life and associate professor in the Gladys L. Benerd School of Education at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.