11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Good introduction, but no fireworks, 24 Aug 2010
If I'd never read any of the other Very Short Introductions, this is exactly what I would have expected - and wanted - a Very Short Introduction to the Old Testament to be like.
Most of the book consists of short 10 or 12 page chapters (the OT and history, the OT and myth, Biblical law, festivals and ritual, poetry and dissent...) illustrating interesting aspects of the Old Testament. There are also two "deep probes", on the Exodus and on Hezekiah and Sennacherib, where the geographical and historical context comes especially to the fore. The author's deep knowledge is evident everywhere, but he wears it lightly.
I found it all interesting, and bits of it fascinating - especially the parts on prophets (what were they in reality?) and on ancient Israelite festivals (esp. the "festival of the booths").
If I have a reservation about the book, it is that it didn't "light my fire" in the way that some of the other Very Short Introductions did (the one on Classics, for example, or the one on Kafka). On the other hand it didn't leave me stranded, as some have. If anything, I think I'd have liked it to be a bit more challenging.
There are one or two mild Americanisms, but the style is generally lucid and simple.