Old Testament History, by Charles F. Pfeiffer (Baker and Canon, 1973, 640 pp., $12.95), is reviewed by Leon Wood, dean of Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Seven books written earlier in a series on Old Testament history are now in one volume. They constitute a history of the years of the Old Testament and the intertestamentary period. Pfeiffer states that his purpose is “to draw on the abundance of archaeological, historical, and linguistic studies now available to help in the understanding of the events described in the Old Testament.” This he does well. His principal source of information is the Old Testament, but he makes wide use as well of materials from archaeological research. (He earlier edited The Biblical World: A Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology.) Furthermore, he is acquainted with modern writers and frequently refers to them. One criticism is that on certain controversial matters I wished he had made his own view a little clearer.
The book is divided into eight parts, from “The Patriarchal Age” to “Between the Testaments—The Hellenistic Period.” A main strength is the presentation of background information from the history of the Old Testament world. Excellent sections are to be found in each of the main divisions. In the first division, for instance, one finds a detailed presentation of the world in which the patriarchs lived; in the second, a survey of Egyptian history at the time of Israel’s sojourn there. By the close of the book the reader has not only a running history of Old Testament material but also a nearly complete history of the Middle East.
Sometimes this background history seems to take the center stage away from the religious, Old Testament presentation. This ...1