Interpreting Biblical Texts Series

The purpose of the Interpreting Biblical Texts series is to help serious readers in their experience of reading and interpreting, by providing guides for their journeys into textual worlds.

The controlling perspective is expressed in the operative word of the title—interpreting.

The primary focus of the series is not so much on the world behind the texts or out of which the texts have arisen as on the worlds created by the texts in their engagement with readers.


The Pentateuch by Terence E. Fretheim

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In this volume, Terence E. Fretheim seeks to introduce the Pentateuch to modern readers, stressing its continuing capacity to speak a word of–or about–God. The two chapters of Part One provide an orientation to the critical study of the Pentateuch and present a proposal for reading the Pentateuch in terms of its rhetorical strategy.

That strategy, Fretheim argues, is designed in such a way as to have a certain effect upon its readers, most basically to shape their faith and life. The five chapters of Part Two focus on the individual books that comprise the Pentateuch.


The Historical Books by Richard D. Nelson

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In The Historical Books, Richard D. Nelson introduces neophyte readers to the basic concepts of history and historical writing and provides a simple framework of events and periods that can be used to situate historical data reported in texts or presupposed by them. Standard interpretive methods are accessibly explained and illustrated by consistent reference to 2 Samuel 24.

The focus of discussion moves from the narrow level of individual pericope to larger units of meaning. Because the ultimate goal is to expose the claims made on the reader by these biblical texts and to help the reader make sense of these claims, the interpretive spotlight rests on the present interaction of text and reader rather than on the past.


The Wisdom Literature by Richard J. Clifford

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In this volume, Richard J. Clifford seeks to make the biblical wisdom literature intelligible to modern readers. It is easy to quote the occasional proverb, say a few things about “the problem of evil” in Job, or quote “vanity of vanities, ” but far more rewarding to read the whole book with an appreciative and informed eye.

Opening chapters of The Wisdom Literature comment on the striking similarities between ancient and modern “wisdom literature” and on the comparable literature from ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Canaan. Thereafter, a chapter is devoted to each biblical wisdom book (Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Sirach, and Wisdom of Solomon), studying not only its content but also its rhetoric — how it engages the reader.


Psalms by William P. Brown

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The focus of the volume moves from the smallest to the largest of scales, from an examination of poetic segments to considerations of God and the world through the psalmists’ eyes. The author will present new slants and questions that equip the reader with various tools of interpretation while leaving issues open for the reader’s further exploration. Included are discussions of Psalms as Hebrew poetry, species, performance, corpus, anthropology, and theology.


The Prophetic Literature by Marvin A. Sweeney

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Biblical texts create worlds of meaning, and invite readers to enter them. When readers enter such textual worlds, which are often strange and complex, they are confronted with theological claims. With this in mind, the purpose of the Interpreting Biblical Texts series is to help serious readers in their experience of reading and interpreting by providing guides for their journeys into textual worlds.

The controlling perspective is expressed in the operative word of the title–interpreting. The primary focus of the series is not so much on the world behind the texts or out of which the texts have arisen as on the worlds created by the texts in their engagement with readers.

Although these books of the prophets are based upon the careers and experiences of some of the most talented and provocative individuals of their times, the books must be read first as literature. Each book displays its own unique organization, literary characteristics, and theological outlook in presenting the prophets.

In the case of Jeremiah, interpreters must even consider two distinctive forms of the book in the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Septuagint. By guiding the reader through the literary structure and language of each of the prophetic books as well as the social roles of the individual prophets, this volume opens the reader to greater understanding and appreciation of the prophets of Israel and Judah.


The Gospel of Matthew by Donald Senior

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In this volume, Donald Senior provides an up-to-date introduction to the Gospel of Matthew. The seven chapters of Part One focus on modern biblical scholarship and the interpretation of Matthew, discussing the sources and structure of the Gospel, its use of the Old Testament, its understanding of Jewish Law, its setting as a part of the mission of Christianity to the Gentiles, its Christology, its understanding of the nature of discipleship, and the community from which the Gospel originated. The six chapters of Part Two provide a structured guide to reading and interpreting Matthew’s Gospel.


The Gospel of Mark by Donald H. Juel

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This volume focuses on the Gospel according to Mark, probably the first of the four Gospels to be written. This volume is written to open readers to its remarkable story. Where engagement will finally lead remains as unpredictable and as promising as the Gospel itself.


The Gospel of Luke and Acts by F. Scott Spencer

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In keeping with the goals of the series, this volume provides an introductory guide to readers of the New Testament books of Luke and Acts. It focuses on both the synchronic and diachronic dimensions of the literature in an effort to acquaint readers with literary, historical, and theological issues that will facilitate interpretation of these important books.


The Gospel and Letters of John by R. Alan Culpepper

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In this volume, R. Alan Culpepper considers both the Gospel and the Letters of John. The book begins with a close look at the relationship between John and the Synoptics and a summary of John’s distinctive thought and language. The second chapter addresses the fascinating issues regarding the origins of the Gospel and the letters: authorship, sources, and composition. The history of the Johannine community is reviewed in chapter three. Chapter four interprets the plot of the Gospel and prepares the student to read John as literature by providing a brief orientation to narrative criticism.

The fifth chapter turns to more traditional concerns: John as theology. This chapter provides a digest of the Christology, theology, and eschatology of John. The sixth through the eighth chapters, the heart of the book, guide the student through a reading of the Gospel. The ninth chapter serves as an introduction to the Letters, noting especially their relationship to the Gospel. Each letter is treated in turn. The final chapter examines the challenges and potential of the Johannine literature as documents of faith.

“In previous writings Alan Culpepper has shown himself to be one of the best Johannine scholars of our time. He not only conveniently draws together his research but also shows himself to be an excellent teacher”. -Raymond E. Brown


The Letters of Paul by Charles B. Cousar

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Interpreting Biblical Text Series presents a concise edition covering the seven undisputed epistles of Paul. In this volume, Charles Cousar is primarily concerned not with the man Paul and his life and work, but with his surviving letters. Part 1 introduces methods in reading the Pauline letters. Part 2 attends to the critical themes emerging in the letters–the decisiveness of Jesus Christ, old versus new life. Part 3 discusses the other six letters bearing Paul’s name that appear in the New Testament.


The Apocalyptic Literature by Stephen L. Cook

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Biblical texts create worlds of meaning and invite readers to enter them. When readers enter such textual worlds, which are strange and complex, they are confronted with theological claims. With this in mind, the purpose of the IBT series is to help serious readers in their experience of reading and interpreting by providing guides for their journeys into textual worlds.

The focus of the series is not so much on the world behind the text as on the worlds created by the texts in their engagement with readers. Nowhere is the world of the biblical text stranger than in the apocalyptic literature of both the Old and New Testaments. In this volume, Stephen Cook makes the puzzling visions and symbols of the biblical apocalyptic literature intelligible to modern readers. He begins with definitions of apocalypticism and apocalyptic literature and introduces the various scholarly approaches to and issues for our understanding of the text.

Cook introduces the reader to the social and historical worlds of the apocalyptic groups that gave rise to such literature and leads the reader into a better appreciation and understanding of the theological import of biblical apocalyptic literature. In the second major section of the book, Cook guides the reader through specific examples of the Bible’s apocalyptic literature. He addresses both the best-known examples (the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation) and other important but lesser known examples (Zechariah and some words of Jesus and Paul).

Resources in the New Interpreter’s series

New Interpreter’s Bible Commentaries

New Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary

New Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary

New Interpreter’s Study Bible

New Interpreter’s Old Testament Survey

New Interpreter’s New Testament Survey

New Interpreter’s Handbook on Preaching

Other resources from Abingdon Press

Abingdon bible commentaries

Interpreting the Biblical Text series