Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament
Published in November 2009
Review by: Mike Meiser
Understanding the cultural and historical context of a Biblical text is one of the most important aspects of proper Bible study. This is perhaps one of the more difficult hurdles that a pastor, teacher, or layman approaching the Bible has to overcome. This becomes especially difficult when dealing with the Old Testament text. The reader of the texts of the Old Testament must learn to overcome close to 3000 years worth of cultural disparity between his or her present-day culture and the culture of the text. In many ways this seems like a quite insurmountable task. Luckily, there is a tool that can help with this process.
The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the Old Testament (ZIBBCOT) is perfectly attuned at aiding the reader of the Old Testament in gaining insight into the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cultural context of the Old Testament. This set of 5 volumes is a collection of some of the world’s most renowned Old Testament scholars from the likes of John Walton, Tremper Longman, Andrew Hill, and DTS’s own John Hilber. Each page is filled with useful illustrations, articles, and commentary. These volumes deal on a verse-by-verse basis with any verse in the Old Testament that information from the ANE context can shed light upon. This information is accessible not only to the layman approaching the text for the first time, but also the scholar who has been studying the text for their whole life. For folks who want to go further in their study of cultural backgrounds, the ZIBBCOT is packed full of endnotes and bibliographical material. Hundreds of references can be found for each book, giving the user of these 5 volumes thousands of resources to explore for further study.
I highly recommend these volumes to any serious student of the Old Testament. This set is a little pricey, sold at our store for $199.96, but I feel it is well worth the investment. These volumes will provide essential information for understanding the cultural context of the Old Testament, and will better enable the reader to properly interpret the Scripture as it was intended to be understood in its ancient context.