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A Handbook to Old Testament Exegesis

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Designed for both Hebrew and non-Hebrew students, A Handbook to Old Testament Exegesis offers a fresh, hands-on introduction to exegesis of the Old Testament. William P. Brown begins not with the biblical text itself but with the reader, helping students to identify their own interpretive lenses before engaging the biblical text. Brown guides the student through a wide variety of interpretive approaches, including modern methodologies—feminist, womanist, Latino/a, queer, postcolonial, disability, and ecological approaches—alongside more traditional methods. This allows students to critically reflect on themselves as bona fide interpreters. While covering a wide range of biblical passages, Brown also highlights two common biblical texts throughout the work to help show how each interpretive approach highlights different dimensions of the same texts. Students will appreciate the value of an empathetic inquiry of Scripture that is both inclusive of others and textually in-depth.

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Key Features

  • Helps students understand how their own presuppositions and biases affect their readings of scripture
  • Brings to light reasons why different groups of people interpret scripture in different ways
  • Adopts a balance between traditional and modern interpretive methods


  • Part I: Getting Started
    • A Hermeneutical Adventure
    • Self-Exegesis
    • First Impressions
  • Part II: Analytical Approaches
    • Translation
    • Text-Critical Analysis
    • Stylistic Analysis I: Poetry
    • Stylistic Analysis II: Narrative
    • Structural Analysis
    • Compositional Analysis
    • Comparative Analysis
    • Literary Analysis
    • Historical Analysis
    • Canonical Analysis
  • Interlude: From Text to Table
  • Part III: Reading in Place
    • Science
    • Ecology
    • Gender I
    • Gender II
    • Empire
    • Minority
    • Disability
    • Theology
  • Part IV: Communication
    • Retelling the Text
  • A Glossary of Exegetical Terms

Praise for the Print Edition

So many introductions to exegesis are earnest, thorough, excellent, and, . . . well, boring. In a delightful change of pace, Brown's has all those virtues, but it has the wonderful distinction of being fresh, engaging, and even fun. Brown beautifully integrates the classic concern for the discovery of the otherness of the text with exercises that help readers to discover their own situatedness in history and society. Then he guides the reader to see how reading oneself as well as reading the text can shed new light on how both can respectfully converge to illumine topics of mutual concern. This is the exegetical and hermeneutical handbook I've been waiting for. I look forward to teaching it in my courses.

—Carol A. Newsom, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

Bill Brown brings both his vast erudition and his meticulous attentiveness to the art and craft of Bible reading. The outcome of his prodigious work is a book that has no parallel among our current resources. Brown walks us through the conventional modes of critical reading with impressive textual specificity. Beyond that he offers access to his signature scholarship concerning science, evolution, and ecology with immense learning and acute artistic sensitivity. Potential readers should not be misled by the ordinariness of the book's title. In addition to being an introduction for new students, it will be a welcome resource for those trapped in so-called 'objective' criticism and for those who have been at it so long that they think they know ahead of time what texts will say. Brown brings his own wonder and capacity for surprise that will be contagious for his readers. It may be that the book will evoke a new epidemic of excitement and engagement for Bible readers; it is in any case an enormous gift to us all!

—Walter Brueggemann, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

"In this comprehensive volume, Brown moves biblical exegesis into the twenty-first century. Brown introduces a fresh understanding of exegesis that acknowledges the multivalence of texts and supports the reader in seeking creativity, adventure, and wonder. Well-researched and filled with helpful textual examples, A Handbook to Old Testament Exegesis is a welcome addition to the library of any student of biblical interpretation.

—Nyasha Junior, assistant professor of Hebrew Bible, Temple University, and author of An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation

Product Details

William P. Brown is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary. He has published numerous works, including Seeing the Psalms: A Theology of Metaphor and Ecclesiastes in the Interpretation series. He also serves on the editorial board for the esteemed Old Testament Library series, published by Westminster John Knox Press.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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Digital list price: $21.99
Save $4.00 (18%)