A leading textbook in studying the Hebrew Bible, this Course Pack is designed to help students in their research of and knowledge of the Hebrew Bible. The text is aimed explicitly at motivated students regardless of their previous exposure to the Bible or faith commitments.
You are here
Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
John J. Collins’s Introduction to the Hebrew Bible is one of the most reliable and widely adopted critical textbooks at undergraduate and graduate levels alike, and for good reason. Enriched by decades of classroom teaching, it is aimed explicitly at motivated students regardless of their previous exposure to the Bible or faith commitments.
Collins proceeds through the canon of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha, judiciously presenting the current state of historical, archaeological, and literary understanding of the biblical text, and engaging the student in questions of significance and interpretation for the contemporary world.
The second edition has been updated with the latest findings in biblical scholarship and is presented in a new and engaging format. It can be purchased individually or as part of a Course Pack, which includes the Study Companion.
Explore the books
John J. Collins is Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School and author of many works, including, from Fortress Press, Daniel (Hermeneia, 1994), Does the Bible Justify Violence? (2004), and Encounters with Biblical Theology (2005).
Ryan P. Bonfiglio is visiting adjunct professor at Columbia Theological Seminary and a postdoctoral fellow with the Louisville Institute. His primary areas of research and teaching focus on biblical hermeneutics, prophetic literature, Israelite religion, and the reception history of the Hebrew Bible. Prior to earning his doctorate, he was an affiliated chaplain through Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life. He is a committed educator and lay leader in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
My Teaching Tools
Test and Answer Key
To receive the Premade Test and Answer Key for this textbook, contact our Textbook Adoption Consultant
One-semester sample syllabus from Fortress Press
One-semester sample syllabus
Two-semester sample syllabi from John J. Collins
Sample Syllabus—Fall Course
Sample Syllabus—Spring Course
Syllabi from current users
Introduction to the Hebrew Bible 1, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Brandon Grafius
Introduction to the Old Testament, St. Joseph's College of Maine, Pamela Hedrick
Foundations of Biblical Study, University of Dayton, Meghan Henning
A Word from the Author
Many instructors find it challenging to cover the entire breadth and depth of the Hebrew Bible in a single semester. John Collins comments on this difficulty and offers a word of advice on best practices for covering this massive subject with introductory students.
Read the article here!
Int.1 The Ancient Near East
4.1. The world of the patriarchs
5.1. The landscape of the Book of Exodus
9.1 Israelite settlement before the monarchy
9.2 Canaanite sites in the Late 13th / Early 12th Century B.C.E.
9.3 Areas settled by the tribes of Israel
10.1 Tribes of Israel before the monarchy
11.1 Saul’s kingdom
12.1 David and Solomon’s kingdoms
14.1 Elijah narratives
14.2 The extent of the Assyrian Empire at its zenith
16.1 Assyrian Empire
18.1 Chaldean Empire and the Saite Dynasty of Egypt
19.1 Persian Empire at its zenith
21.1 Judah as a province of the Persian Empire
27.1 Maccabean-Hasmonean Palestine
28.1 The Ancient Near East around 60 BCE
Fig. 11.3 David is anointed by Samuel in a fresco from the third-century c.e. synagogue at Dura Europos.
Fig. 1.1 The Rosetta Stone; British Museum.
Fig. 2.2 The Garden of Eden, by Lucas Cranach the Elder; sixteenth century.
Fig. 3.3 The Flood, by Hieronymus Bosch, ca. 1516–18; in the Museums Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
Fig. 4.1 A holy man, often identified as Abraham, is depicted in a fresco from the third-century c.e. synagogue at Dura-Europos.
Fig. 6.6 The Adoration of the Golden Calf, by Nicolas Poussin (ca. 1634); National Gallery.
Fig. 9.1 The circular platform of a Canaanite cultic place in Stone-Age Megiddo.
Fig. 10.2 Jael and Sisera, by Jacopo Amigoni (ca. 1739).
Fig. 11.1 The Ark of the Covenant and the broken statue of the Philistine god Dagon; fresco from the third century c.e. synagogue at Dura- Europos.
Fig. 11.2 The Tel Dan inscription, a ninthcentury b.c.e. Aramaic inscription in which the king of Aram claims to have defeated “the house of David”—our earliest extrabiblical reference to David; now in the Israel Museum.
Fig. 13.1 The southern wall of the wall of Herod’s temple (first century c.e.), with remains of Seleucid-era construction in the foreground. Behind the three blocked gates on the right is a vaulted area known as Solomon’s Stables, now occupied by a Muslim prayer hall below the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Fig. 13.3 Detail from The Judgment of Solomon by Nicolas Poussin (1649), in the Louvre.
Fig. 14.1 Elijah defeats the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel in this fresco from the third-century synagogue at Dura-Europos.
Fig. 16.2 The Prophet Isaiah, by Marc Chagall (1968); Musée national message biblique Marc Chagall, Nice, France.
Fig. 17.4 The Ishtar Gate, dedicated by Nebuchadnezzar II. Now in the Pergamonmuseum, Berlin.
Fig. 18.4 The Temple Scroll from Qumran (11Q20).
Fig. 20.3 Babylonians bring tribute to the Persian court; detail from an extensive bas-relief on the Apadana Staircase, showing tribute from many nations flowing to Darius. Persepolis; photo by Marcus Cyron.
Fig. 26.1 Ruth in the Field of Boaz, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1828).
My Study Tools
Collins does an excellent job of identifying the problems and offering possible solutions. . .
“One of the things I appreciate about Collins the most is his attention to passages in the Hebrew Bible which seem to sanction violence. These are always troubling for students in this course, and Collins does an excellent job of identifying the problems and offering possible solutions. These insights often provide great ways for our classroom discussions to begin.”
A timely and welcome contribution. . .
"John Collins's introduction is a timely and welcome contribution, one based on his own extensive research and on his many years of teaching the subject. The reader will find not only a careful presentation of the biblical material but also a judicious assessment of scholarship on it. This book will be a valuable tool for classroom use, and the bibliographies appended to each chapter will help the student who wishes to pursue a topic in greater detail."
Its seriousness, detail, and sophistication set this textbook apart. . .
''Drawing on years of teaching in seminary and university, and of addressing Christian and Jewish popular audiences, Collins has produced a clear, concise, and up-to-date introduction to the Old Testament including the deuterocanonical books. Wisely following the canonical order of books (slightly adapted), he describes each book's contents, critical issues, and religious meaning. Collins situates each biblical book squarely in its historical setting, and deals honestly with the problems as well as the bounty of the Bible. A special bonus is his masterful coverage of the often-slighted Second Temple literature. Its seriousness, detail, and sophistication set this textbook apart and make it an excellent resource for college and seminary courses, and for pastors and educated laity.''
This is the introduction to the Hebrew Bible I have been looking for. . .
''At last! This is the introduction to the Hebrew Bible I have been looking for: a balanced and richly informative introduction that covers essential critical and comparative perspectives and sets up pertinent interpretive issues, leaving the instructor free to work with the class in any number of directions. Using Collins' textbook is like team-teaching with a master teacher. His tone is welcoming but often wry, accessible yet authoritative. This is a textbook written by someone who not only knows his students but who genuinely likes them—and likes to challenge them. Collins does not take refuge in an antiquarian approach to the Hebrew Bible but repeatedly identifies the complex ethical issues raised by the text and by the responsibilities involved in interpreting the text.''
Meets a long-standing need for an up-to-date and well-informed critical introduction to the Hebrew Bible. . .
"Collins's volume meets a long-standing need for an up-to-date and well-informed critical introduction to the Hebrew Bible. His lucid presentation of the socio-historical background of the world of ancient Israel and Judah and the compositional history of the biblical books provides a fitting context by which to read the Bible's perspectives on the people of Israel/Judah, their interrelationships with surrounding cultures, and their understandings of the divine. A particularly important contribution of this volume is its treatment of the deuterocanonical or apocryphal books. Collins's work stands as a most welcome and highly recommended textbook for both undergraduates and seminarians.''
John J. Collins's Introduction to the Hebrew Bible and abbreviated A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible have long been the trusted resources of instructors teaching the Hebrew Bible to beginning students. We asked several instructors and students using the textbooks to explain why these titles make lasting impressions on students coming from a variety of perspectives and contexts. Hear what they had to say!
Dan W. Clanton Jr., Doane College
Read the review here
Alexis Lipson, Doane College
Read the interview here
Brandon Grafius, Ecumenical Theological Seminary
Read the review here
A marvel of conciseness, John J. Collins' A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible is quickly becoming one of the most popular introductory textbooks in colleges and university classrooms. The second edition has been carefully revised to take the latest scholarly developments into account.
John J. Collins' Introduction to the Hebrew Bible is one of the most reliable and widely adopted critical textbooks at undergraduate and graduate levels alike. The second edition has been updated with the latest findings in biblical scholarship and is presented in a new and engaging format.
This Study Companion is tied directly to Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, Second Edition and features essential primary readings keyed to the text, along with a running timeline feature and discussions of technical terms, archaeological sites, and methods and concepts in biblical studies.