Craig Keener and John Walton are the primary authors of The IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary.
These volumes are considered among the best whole bible commentaries.
The first volume consists of the Old Testament. The second volume consists of the New Testament.
Rather than a verse-by-verse approach, this commentary takes a passage-by-passage approach to the biblical text, which is to be expected in a whole bible commentary.
The content of The IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary is the historical and socio-cultural backgrounds of biblical books. For example, ancient Near Eastern backgrounds is part of the commentary on Old Testament books and Greco-Roman backgrounds is part of the commentary on New Testament books.
This commentary is designed for pastors and students who desire to learn more about the historical and social setting of each book of the bible.
Use the Whole Bible Commentary Comparison Chart to compare The IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary to over 40 other one and two-volume bible commentaries.
Hardcover: 832 pages
Publisher: IVP Academic (2000)
Hardcover: 816 pages
Publisher: IVP Academic (2014)
Preaching’s Preacher’s Guide to the Best Bible Reference for 2014 (General Reference)
“Users of Craig Keener’s IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament will be delighted to have a companion volume on a period both more remote in time and exotic in cultural background. . . . This volume . . . fills a need not addressed by any other book I know. It will open the eyes of lay readers to the vast and still largely untapped resources of ancient Near Eastern archaeology and texts for the understanding of the Old Testament. I predict a warm and enthusiastic reception for the book.”
~ Harry A. Hoffner Jr., Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago
“This volume [The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Genesis–Deuteronomy, a precursor to this new, complete OT volume] provides Bible readers who have little knowledge of the ancient world an abundance of information on the sociocultural background of texts throughout the Pentateuch. The authors present the materials in a clear, concise, straightforward manner. . . . This book is a splendid tool that provides ready access to the cultural background of the books of the Pentateuch.”
The publisher asks: How can we account for the “Book of the Law” suddenly being discovered during Josiah’s renovation of the temple (2 Chron 34:14)? We know from Egypt and Mesopotamia that it was common to seal important documents–including theological documents–in the masonry or foundations of a palace or temple in order to inform a future king who might undertake restoration of the building.
What might the psalmist have had in mind when praising God for removing our transgressions “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps 103:12)? In an Egyptian hymn to Amun-Re, the deity is praised for his judgment of the guilty. As a result of the god’s discernment the guilty are assigned to the east and the righteous to the west.
What is meant by God “weighing the heart” (Prov 21:2)? In Egyptian religious tradition we find the notion of the dead being judged before the gods. As the soul is examined, the dead person’s heart is weighed in a scale against a feather symbolizing Truth. If the answers are correct and the heart does not outweigh the feather, the soul may enter the realm of everlasting life.
The narratives, genealogies, laws, poetry, proverbs and prophecies of the Old Testament are deeply rooted in history. Archaeologists, historians and social scientists have greatly advanced our knowledge of the ancient world of the Bible. When we illuminate the stories of Abraham or David, the imagery of the Psalms or Proverbs, or the prophecies of Isaiah or Jeremiah with this backlight of culture and history, these texts spring to new life.
The unique commentary joins The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament in providing historical, social and cultural background for each passage of the Old Testament. From Genesis through Malachi, this single volume gathers and condenses an abundance of specialized knowledge–making it available and accessible to ordinary readers of the Old Testament. Expert scholars John Walton, Victor Matthews and Mark Chavalas have included along with the fruits of their research and collaboration
- a glossary of historical terms, ancient peoples, texts and inscriptions
- maps and charts of important historical resources
- expanded explanations of significant background issues
- introductory essays on each book of the Old Testament
- The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament will enrich your experience of the Old Testament–and your teaching and preaching from Scripture–in a way that no other commentary can do.
John H. Walton (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School.
Victor H. Matthews is dean of the College of Humanities and Public Affairs and professor of religious studies at Missouri State University (Springfield, Missouri).