New Release: Reading the Historical Books

Cover ArtBiblical history can be some of the most difficult material for beginning students to grasp. The conventions of contemporary history writing are quite different from those of ancient Israelite writers. In Reading the Historical Books, Patricia Dutcher-Walls offers basic orientation to the genre and conventions of the Old Testament historical books, helping students become careful and attentive readers.


“For those coming to serious study of the Bible for the first time, there cannot be any more important lesson than to understand how to read the Bible’s ancient historical records faithfully on their own terms….You will not find a better or more sympathetic introductory book than this one to point you in the right direction.” – H. G. M. Williamson, University of Oxford

“This student’s guide is a model of clarity, economy, and explanatory skill. Writing in a straightforward and interesting style and spicing up her discussion with specific ancient and modern examples, Patricia Dutcher-Walls lays out a sensible reading plan for any who wish to take the Bible seriously in all its aspects: literary, historical, and theological…. [A] fine book that should gain a wide readership.” – V. Philips Long, Regent College, Vancouver

“Always sympathetically aware of its audiences, and with panels calling for reader involvement, this book will be an invaluable aid to all who have a serious interest in understanding these rich story-histories of the Old Testament.” – J. Gordon McConville, University of Gloucestershire

“This engaging guide to reading historical narrative in the Old Testament is a great text for beginners. Dutcher-Walls assumes little and draws on a wide variety of relevant texts and illustrations from the Bible, ancient Near Eastern sources, and especially modern historical texts and media contexts. There is nothing better for communicating basic principles of Hebrew Bible historiography to modern readers.” – Richard S. Hess, Denver Seminary

“[A]n excellent treatment of the principles of history writing that guided the historians of this corpus of biblical literature. A judicious examination of texts from ancient Near Eastern literature reveals that these same principles may be found in that larger body of texts as well. Further, she has demonstrated ably that an awareness by the contemporary reader of how these ancient historians told their stories will greatly assist one in engaging the biblical text.” – Victor P. Hamilton, Asbury University


Patricia Dutcher-Walls (ThD, Graduate Theological Union) is professor of Hebrew scripture at Vancouver School of Theology, where she also gives administrative oversight to the school’s doctoral programs and serves as dean of studies and director of the library. She is the author of several books and a web-based Bible study curriculum. Ordained by the United Presbyterian Church (USA), she now serves as a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

For more information on Reading the Historical Books, click here.