Harrison, writing from a conservative point of view, offers a thorough guide to the Old Testament for both scholar and novice. Thoroughly researched and fully documented, this superb volume begins with a lengthy section on the history of the criticism of the Old Testament, viewing the Hebrew Scriptures in the light of archaeology, chronology, history, religion and theology. Various views are presented regarding such issues as the authorship of the Pentateuch, the extent of the Deluge, and the date of the Exodus. This is followed by a detailed discussion of each Old Testament book, paying close attention to its historical background, authorship, and principal ideas. Harrison’s Introduction to the Old Testament also contains a lucid overview of the books in the Apocrypha, which has been included chiefly for Protestants who may never have had occasion to study these books and their influence on early Judaism.
“claimed substantial Mosaic authorship for the Pentateuch” (Page 29)
“But by far the most influential figure in the dissemination of Biblical criticism in England was S. R. Driver of Oxford.” (Page 28)
“Vater and De Wette were vigorously opposed by a number of scholars who felt convinced of the essential Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.48 What is probably the most devastating attack upon the fragment theory was made by H. Ewald, who in his commentary on Genesis presented strong arguments for the underlying unity of the book on philological and other grounds.49 While he did not adhere to the traditional view that Moses was the author of Genesis, he assigned the composition of the book to a comparatively early period.” (Page 15)
“One of the principal functions of archaeological activity is to awaken a sense of the vitality of the Hebrew past in the student of Old Testament life and times. This is of great importance for the simple, though frequently unappreciated, reason that the essential message of the Old Testament cannot be fully comprehended without a knowledge of the cultural, religious, historical, and social background of the people to whom the revelation of God was given.” (Page 93)
“Ewald maintained that an Elohistic source underlay the composition of the Pentateuch and Joshua, and that it had been supplemented by the addition of older sections such as the Decalogue. At a later time a compilation of sources of a Jehovistic character arose, from which portions were placed in the basic Elohistic document.” (Pages 15–16)
Harrison’s Old Testament Introduction is the finest thing I have ever seen….In the forty years I taught Old Testament Introduction I never found a book I could recommend to my students. I am now heartily recommending this one.
—James L. Kelso, Professor Emeritus, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Harrison’s historical introduction regarding the past and present in Old Testament studies would be worth the purchase price of this volume. It is thorough and well done. However, following this is a marvelous evangelical statement of how the Old Testament was put together and how each book arrived at its present condition, plus an introduction to its theology and purpose. Harrison’s book is a standard and rightfully so. Read this book carefully, and then read it again.
—Rev. John D. White