Fortress Press

Introduction to the Hebrew Bible: Second Edition

Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

Second Edition

John J. Collins (Author)


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, 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

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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451469233
  • eBook ISBN 9781451484366
  • Dimensions 7.5 x 9.25
  • Pages 640
  • Publication Date July 1, 2014


"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."
—Brandon Grafius,
Ecumenical Theological Seminary

"Introduction to the Hebrew Bible offers an accessible yet comprehensive summary of the relevant historical critical scholarship that the students find engaging. This book enables me to use the historical material presented by Collins as a jumping off point for our discussions."
—Meghan Henning,
University of Dayton

"Collins does an excellent job, with respect to matters that are deeply inflected by Christian interpretations of the Hebrew Bible, of noting the different lenses through which these texts are read, and to what ends. I also find his summaries of the texts to be both elegant and impressively comprehensive given their succinctness, which leaves ample room for getting into various interpretive and other issues.”
—Heidi Wendt,
Wright State University

"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

''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 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, S.J.
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

''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.''
—Carol Newsom
Candler School of Theology

'Collins' 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' 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


Reviews for the First Edition

Review in Bible Editions and Versions


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