Any sustained reading of the Old Testament will reveal that, as a composite document, it has seams, fractures, and conflicting components. The Internal Conversation of the Old Testament embraces these features as essential to the text. The many voices editors brought into the text were engaged in a conversation about questions vital to human existence. How do we remember our ancestors? How do we portray our heroes? How do we govern ourselves? How do we measure our successes and failures? Careful attention allows us to overhear this ancient conversation and bring what we can learn from it into modern conversations about these and other questions that still center our communal lives.
The Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary series brings insightful commentary to bear on the lives of contemporary Christians. Using a multimedia format, the volumes employ a stunning array of art, maps, and drawings to illustrate the insights of the Bible. It is built upon the idea that meaningful Bible study can occur when the insights of contemporary biblical scholars blend with sensitivity to the needs of students of Scripture. In addition, the CD-ROM, which offers powerful searching and research tools, pairs the text with a digital resource that is a distinctive feature of this series.
Mark McEntire’s central claim is that “the Old Testament hosts a contested conversation.” His work amply and persuasively illustrates this premise. Along the way, McEntire demonstrates over and over the way understanding the structure, composition and history of the text informs better conversation about its meaning. This book will be useful in making the results of Old Testament scholarship accessible to serious readers.
—Timothy G. Crawford
Dean, College of Christian Studies
Director, Bachelor of General Studies
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
McEntire provides a lucid and discerning analysis of the Old Testament’s internal debate, dialogue, and conflict. Who were the participants in this ancient conversation? Whose economic and political interests did they represent? And how are we to understand ourselves and the places we live when we enter this ancient conversation? This book shows us why such questions are important and what we have to gain by embracing them.
—Samuel E. Balentine
Professor of Old Testament
Union Presbyterian Seminary
The Internal Conversation of the Old Testament by Mark McEntire is a cogent and eminently accessible presentation of how to read the Old Testament well while still taking into account the complexity of its origins. The book is understandable and informative for a wide audience and is written in such a way that synthesizes a great deal of information without oversimplifying the very real difficulties the modern reader encounters when reading the Old Testament. By advance praise organizing the discussion around larger questions of origins and self-understanding the book allows the reader to see clearly the discussion the biblical writers were having with each other and with us.
Associate Professor of Old Testament
In The Internal Conversation of the Old Testament, Mark McEntire combines thorough study of the traditions of biblical scholarship, careful consideration of a language that most of us do not read, and common sense examination of the narratives of Scripture. He helps the reader feel not only comfortable but insightful for asking questions of the text. We become more able ourselves, with McEntire’s encouragement and help, to sift through narratives to find a broader perspective on how they fit together—or don’t. Anyone whose love for the sacred text outweighs their need to justify it will consider this book to be one of the treasures of their Hebrew Testament collection.
Pastor, Glendale Baptist Church
In this smart and lively volume, McEntire makes a compelling case for why recognizing the composite nature of the Hebrew Bible actually matters. While other scholars are content to identify the sources behind biblical books, he digs deeper to explore what those sources are talking about. Filled with solid information, clear explanations, and entertaining forays into the ancient and modern worlds, McEntire’s volume allows us to listen in as the various voices of the Bible engage each other and us in important conversations about God, human nature, government, and the places we call home.
—Julia M. O’Brien
Paul H. and Grace L. Stern Professor of Hebrew Bible
Lancaster Theological Seminary
Anyone who is curious about the rich assortment of voices clamoring for our attention in the pages of the Old Testament will be very grateful for this engaging book. Writing in a style that is both academically informed and widely accessible, Mark McEntire invites us to see the Old Testament as the result of a lively conversation brimming with various points of view and diverse perspectives. While some modern interpreters try to downplay the inevitable tensions and contradictions such spirited dialogue engenders, McEntire embraces these textual realities and demonstrates how they can help us enter more deeply into important conversations today. Highly recommended!
—Eric A. Seibert
Professor of Old Testament