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.
“In the nineteenth century, ‘literary criticism’ of the Bible was understood primarily as the separation of sources (source criticism), especially in the case of the Pentateuch.” (Page 16)
“This is not to say that the wording of the Bible is unreliable. The Dead Sea Scrolls have shown that there is, on the whole, an amazing degree of continuity in the way the text has been copied over thousands of years.” (Page 10)
“ But there is no suggestion in the biblical text that guilt is transmitted genetically.” (Page 76)
“It is possible to explain this passage as the close intersplicing of J and E narratives, but we must assume that the editor took half a verse from one source and the other half from the other. In light of this situation, it is understandable that some scholars prefer to speak of JE, without attempting to separate the sources cleanly. The distinction between J and E becomes even more elusive in the book of Exodus, after the revelation of the name YHWH to Moses. Some scholars now dispute whether E ever existed as a distinct, coherent source.” (Page 61)
“In the Ugaritic pantheon, El was king and father of the gods. His decree is wise and his wisdom eternal. The word El is familiar from Hebrew, where it is both the common noun for ‘god’ and a designation for the God of Israel (YHWH). El is said to live in a tent on a mountain that is the source of two rivers. He presides over assemblies of ‘the sons of El,’ the council of the gods.” (Page 40)