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on 13 January 2000
This book presents a very thorough yet readable survey of the context and background to the Old Testament and inter-testament periods. For any one who wants to know about the historical and cultural background of OT times, this is essential reading. Well illustrated, though the quality of some of the illustrations is a little poor.
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on 30 November 2001
This book makes historical study of the OT fascinating. I do not wholly agree with the author's a priori assumptions - mine are more towards the conservative and evangelical end of the spectrum than his catholic perspective. On the other hand it is very unfair to the author to suggest (as some evangelical reviewers have done) that he does not see Holy Scripture as divinely inspired. I am not even so sure he deserves the "liberal" tag: the fact that he is willing to explain the views of liberal scholars without attaching a Health Warning is hardly the first step on the road to perdition. Besides, if we only ever read books we wholly agree with, we may never grow up as Christians.
It is always wonderful to read a book that stresses the work of the Holy Spirit behind scripture and history - but that is essentially devotional writing. Actually many of my evangelical colleagues would say that's the only sort of theology we need, but it doesn't take much reflection to see the limitations of such an approach. How can we answer the world's questions (as indeed we can and must, with flying colours!) if we do not grapple with the questions that arise naturally when scripture is read with an open mind by anyone with a basic grasp of human history?
I find no evidence that Fr. Boadt disagrees radically with an orthodox position on the inspiration of scripture - rather I tend to assume that he takes it for granted. However, he has set out to write a book not about Christian pneumatology but about the historical and cultural roots of the Hebrew scriptures. That task has been undertaken by many writers ranging from Christian fundamentalists to blatant atheists. I do not think any of them can have done so with more intelligence, sensitivity, honesty and grace than Fr. Boadt.
If you really want a more conservative introduction that covers similar ground, try John Drane's excellent "Introduction to the Old Testament". I have worked extensively with both books as a trainee Anglican lay Reader; both are strongly recommended, and Drane is actually a little more up to date in terms of the latest scholarly fashions (new edition soon please, Fr. Boadt). However, the evangelical Drane writes little more dogmatically than the catholic Boadt - and fittingly so as both books are intended primarily as introductions to scholarly thought. In fact of the two books I found Boadt more helpful on several counts: Easier to read, more engrossing, better prose, better structure and generally more informative.
Indeed, because Boadt writes from a very open viewpoint, you can bring your own theological preferences to your reading of it. Some of the monochrome illustrations are a little mediocre, but whatever your angle you are likely to find this book interesting, informative and spiritually uplifting (unless of course you simply want a book that tells you what you want to hear). The key tests of a book like this should not be "is it correct on every page?", but "does it ultimately glorify God?" and "is it likely to help me to understand and explain my own faith more effectively?" On both counts, Boadt's book is a valuable resource.
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on 6 April 2011
The late Fr. Lawrence Boadt addresses the subject from a US Roman Catholic viewpoint, a valuable counterpoint to the prevailing evangelical drift of OT academic studies. Though this is a concise book that is probably pitched at undergraduates and can be recommended to any general reader, it is both authoritative and comprehensive, the result of a lifetime of devoted scholarship. The chapters can be read selectively as self-standing introductions to the wide variety of themes and challenges, making this a useful reference volume for those preaching from the OT.

This one does what it says on the can - introduce the reader to the Old Testament - in a readable, useful and intelligent way.
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on 13 May 1998
I read this book in my Theology course at Notre Dame as a freshman and re-purchased it as a senior because I truly found it so informative and useful in a thorough understanding of the Hebrew Text. I strongly recommend it.
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on 2 March 2014
The content of the book is great, just what I was led to believe but I can't understand why there was no mention of the copious underlining throughout the text. And I hate the large stickers on the covers
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on 13 November 2014
An incredibly useful starter text for anyone studying the Old Testament.
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on 9 December 2015
Lovely book
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