Fortress Press

Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, Third Edition

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A Leading Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

In this third edition, John J. Collins’s Introduction to the Hebrew Bible has been updated with a brand-new index as well as new maps and images, laid out in a refreshed and innovative format. Already one of the most reliable and widely adopted critical textbooks at undergraduate and graduate levels alike, the new and improved features released in the third edition will cement its place as the one of the best-selling textbooks of its kind. 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, archeological, and literary understandings of the biblical text, and engaging the student in questions of significance and interpretation for the contemporary world. The approach is ecumenical, in the sense that it seeks not to impose any particular theological perspective but to provide information and raise questions that should be relevant to any student in any context.

What’s New

  • For the first time: A brand-new index
  • New and engaging format
  • Fresh maps and images
  • Also new in 2018: separate “breakout” editions on Prophecy, the Torah/Pentateuch, the Writings, and the Deuteronomistic History. These slim volumes are excerpted from the full textbook and offer instructors and students an introduction-level treatment of specific sections in the Hebrew Bible, allowing for greater flexibility in course focus and design.

My Teaching Tools

Test and Answer Key

To receive the Premade Test and Answer Key for this textbook, contact our Textbook Adoption Consultant

Sample Syllabi

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 J. 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!

My Study Tools

Research Guide
Study Guide


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 that 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.”

—Brandon Grafius | Ecumenical Theological Seminary

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."

—James C. VanderKam | University of Notre Dame

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.''

—Richard J. Clifford, SJ | Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

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's 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.''

—Carol Newsom | Candler School of Theology

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.''

—Marvin A. Sweeney | Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University