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Hebrew Prophets and Their Social World: An Introduction, 2nd ed.

ISBN: 9781441253248
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Victor Matthews, a veteran teacher and expert on the world of ancient Israel, introduces students to the Hebrew prophets and their social world. Drawing on archaeology and ancient Near Eastern texts, Matthews examines the prophets chronologically, placing them and their message into historical context. He explores pertinent aspects of historical geography, economic conditions, and social forces that influenced a prophet’s life and message and explains why prophets served an integral purpose in the development of ancient Israelite religion. He also explores how prophets addressed their audience and employed rhetorical methods, images, and metaphors to communicate effectively. Logically organized, clearly written, and classroom friendly, this book meets the needs of beginning as well as advanced students. It is a substantially revised and expanded edition of the successful Social World of the Hebrew Prophets.

The Logos Bible Software edition of this volume is designed to encourage and stimulate your study and understanding of Scripture. Biblical passages link directly to your English translations and original-language texts, and important theological concepts link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. In addition, you can perform powerful searches by topic and find what other authors, scholars, and theologians have to say about the Word of God.

Resource Experts
  • Examines the social context of Hebrew prophets
  • Discusses the social world of the times with both an “insider” and “outsider” perspective
  • Explains the metaphors and imagery used by the prophets
  • Historical Geography
  • Defining and Describing the Prophet
  • Premonarchic Prophetic Activity
  • Early Monarchic Prophets
  • Elijah and Elisha
  • The Major and Minor Prophets
  • The Book of Amos
  • The Book of Hosea
  • The Book of Isaiah
  • The Book of Micah
  • Prophetic Voices of the Late Seventh Century
  • The Book of Jeremiah
  • The Book of Ezekiel
  • Postexilic Prophecy
  • The Hellenistic Period and the Book of Daniel
  • Final Thoughts

Top Highlights

“animated storytelling is a developed art in the biblical period” (Page 150)

“Anatolian Peninsula (modern Turkey), Persia (modern Iran), and the island of Cyprus” (Page 2)

“prophets often challenged the authority of the monarchs of Israel and Judah” (Page 20)

“determine the will of a god or gods through various ritualized actions” (Page 17)

“rainfall per year, its existence as a continually occupied” (Page 14)

This is a user-friendly, insightful introduction to the prophets and their times. It brings together for readers the prophetic books, the figures they represent, and the world that produced them.

Andrew Dearman, professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

Matthews’s The Hebrew Prophets and Their Social World suits the needs of the college and seminary classroom in exemplary fashion. In it, Matthews sets the biblical prophets in their broader social context and in their specific historical contexts. He describes the phenomenon of prophecy, traces the outlines of its developments in ancient Israel from Moses to Malachi, and sketches the key themes in the preaching of each of the classical prophets. Supplemented by inserts that examine important background issues and a very helpful glossary and couched in readable, direct prose, this introduction sets a high standard.

Mark Biddle, Russell T. Cherry Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond

The sheer genius of Victor Matthews as the author of this text, now in its second edition, is his ability to take very dense material and present it in a way that is thoroughly engaging, well researched, and brilliantly written. This study packs a lot of punch in a short amount of space and welcomes both students and scholars alike into the rich world of the ancient Near Eastern prophetic tradition and each of Israel’s prophets. This text is an excellent resource, an indispensable tool for learning, and should be used in every biblical course on the Prophets.

—Carol J. Dempsey, professor of theology (biblical studies), University of Portland, OR

My students often have difficulty coming to terms with the Hebrew Prophets because they are so diverse and yet all part of the same phenomenon of prophecy in ancient Israel. Victor Matthews has produced a very readable volume that provides the information students and other readers of the Old Testament need to begin a fruitful journey with the Prophets. He has put the prophetic books in the full context of the Hebrew Bible and in the process helped his readers understand a number of issues in biblical interpretation. His volume demonstrates the value of approaching the prophetic books with attention to their social setting. The volume is a fine beginning point for those who would interpret with integrity the Old Testament prophetic books.

—W. H. Bellinger Jr., Baylor University

This [book] is clear and well organized. Sub-headings, highlighted terms, and offset boxes make this text a wonderful pedagogical tool for teaching an introductory course in the prophets. [Matthews’s] primary focus on the prophets’ social world with attention to the various literary forms and techniques found in the prophetic texts is a welcome addition to the collection of texts already written about Israel’s prophets. Without any sacrifice of content, the work is concise, reader-friendly, and thoroughly engaging. This is an excellent resource of scholars, teachers, students, and general readers of the Bible.


  • Title: Hebrew Prophets and Their Social World: An Introduction, 2nd ed.
  • Authors: Victor H. Matthews
  • Edition: 2nd
  • Publisher: Baker Academic
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Pages: 256

Victor H. Matthews is the dean of the College of Humanities and Public Affairs and professor of religious studies at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, where he has taught for 30 years. He is the author of numerous books, including The Old Testament: Text and Context, Hebrew Prophets and Their Social World: An Introduction, and Studying the Ancient Israelites: A Guide to Sources and Methods.


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