For more than twenty-five years students have used Eugene Merrill’s An Historical Survey of the Old Testament as a comprehensive but concise study of the first thirty-nine books of the Bible. The fifteen printings of the first edition attest to the enduring usefulness of his work.
Introductory material examines the nature of the Old Testament and its literary genre, recounting a history of challenges to that credibility. Subsequent chapters isolate each epoch covered by the Old Testament, from creation through the postexilic period. Hebrew words are set in linguistic context. A short review of intertestamental history is also included.
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“Hundreds of years after the books were composed, scribes devised most ingenious means of guaranteeing the accurate copying of the scrolls. For example, they would count the number of words in a chapter or even a book and then check it by the number of words in their copy. If there was a difference, they would check the entire copy until they located the error, and they would correct it without hesitation. There is even evidence that they would determine the middle word or letter of a book and then check their copy to see that its middle word or letter corresponded with that of the original.” (Page 23)
“In short, it is safe to say without hesitation that the originals exist insofar as they were faithfully preserved by godly and exacting scribes down through the ages. It is not overstating the case to say that one can hold in his hands the Old Testament of the prophets. This is only as it must be, for it is theologically inconceivable that God, after inspiring the original manuscripts, would permit them to lose their value as inerrant revelation by failing to preserve them. The very inspiration of the Old Testament assures its faithful textual preservation.” (Page 24)
“The external evidence is varied and interesting. For present purposes, it is divided into three areas: archaeological and historical correspondence, scientific accuracy, and fulfilled prophecy. It should be stressed again at the outset that the character of the Old Testament as the Word of God is demonstrated not by mere external proofs that can be adduced to support the claim but by its own claim to be Scripture, a testimony accepted by faith.” (Page 29)
Eugene Merrill (1934– ) is an Old Testament scholar who currently serves as distinguished professor of Old Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has also taught at Bob Jones University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Berkshire Christian College. Merrill served as the president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2010 and has been involved in international Christian ministry in Europe, Asia, and the Near East.
Merrill attended Bob Jones University where he earned his BA, MA in Bible, and PhD in Old Testament interpretation. He also earned an MA in Jewish studies at New York University, MPhil and PhD in Middle East languages and culture at Columbia University, and completed research at Tyndale House in Cambridge.
Merrill has published several books and contributed to many collaborative projects. His works include An Historical Survey of the Old Testament, 2nd ed., Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel, 2nd ed., Haggai, Zechariah & Malachi: An Exegetical Commentary, and The New American Commentary: Deuteronomy.