Old Testament Resources Part 4: History and Culture

Old Testament Resources Part 4: History and Culture December 27, 2017
Looking NE from St. Peter's to the old city and Mt. of Olives
Looking NE from St. Peter’s to the old city and Mt. of Olives

First, there’s a Kindle sale on some John Walton books I recommend, including some I haven’t read yet in the Lost World series. Lost World of Genesis 1; Lost World of Genesis 2-3; Lost World of the Israelite Conquest; Lost World of Scripture (about Israelite oral culture).

This post of recommendations focuses on the history and culture of the Old Testament. I’ve bolded my simple choices for those who don’t want lots of detailed options.


First, my free accessible stuff online.

Logos also offers some free stuff, like a Study Bible and Bible Dictionary. Again, Logos is a free app, you buy books and packages separately. I’ve starred the things available in Logos. (See my post here for instructions/demo and a follow-up here with another demo.)

Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament has an introduction to some of the history/culture, and is still $10 at Deseret Book

To learn more about all the peoples and civilizations around the Old Testament, like Egyptians, Hittites, Babylonians, etc., Arnold/Strawn, The World around the Old Testament: The People and Places of the Ancient Near East If you want to go deeper on this, you want Jack Sasson’s 4-volumes-in-2 Civilizations of the Ancient Near East.

Actual history books.

Physical and Social Structures

Reference Works

These are organized by topic or some other logic, not book/chapter/verse. I’ve starred those available in Logos, since reference works in particular benefit from the tagging/searching/linking capabilities of Logos.

Bible and other Dictionaries

  • The Oxford Companion to the Bible.
    • This is essentially a Bible Dictionary with some history and history of interpretation thrown in. It’s respectable, and it can be had used for $1.50 or so.
  • * Anchor Bible Dictionary
    • After a change in publisher, this is now the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. It’s ecumenical, academic, and 7000+ pages,  but 25 yrs old at this point, and apparently out of print and expensive. I got mine on sale at Logos. (It’s currently on sale for $190 instead of 260. Remember, Logos itself is free. You can treat it like a supercharged Kindle and just buy individual books.)
  • * IVP Dictionary of the Old Testament
    • This is a multi-volume Protestant series that is quite good, imo. It often leans conservative, but surprises me in good ways. You can buy a set or individual volumes, and there’s a New Testament counterpart as well. I also got this on deep sale at Logos, once upon a time. I keep my eyes open.

*Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible.  I bet you didn’t know there were enough of these in the Bible to merit an entire dictionary of almost a thousand pages 😉


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