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Greer, Hilber and Walton Co-Edit New Volume on Old Testament Backgrounds for Baker Academic

News Jan. 29, 2019

Published by Baker Academic in November 2018, “Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts” is a unique textbook on biblical background and comparative studies.

Dr. Jonathan Greer, associate professor of Old Testament at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (GRTS), pitched the book concept to Baker Publishing Group after being unable to locate a suitable textbook for use in his course on biblical backgrounds. In collaboration with Dr. John Hilber, professor of Old Testament at GRTS, and Dr. John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, the trio undertook the project to compile a new volume.

“Collaboration is what made this volume what it is, both on the editorial side and on the contributor side,” Greer said. “It was too massive a project for any one person to tackle, and I am grateful for my co-editors and for the participation of so many leading scholars who agreed to join us.”

Using the metaphor of drama as an organizing framework, the textbook includes 66 essays contributed by internationally recognized specialists—including Dr. Ryan Roberts, associate professor of Old Testament, and Dr. Matthew Lynch, adjunct professor of Old Testament—on each topic. Written for upper-division undergraduate students and beginning seminarians, the articles range in length from six to eight pages and reference an extensive bibliography. Examining a broad range of topics, the book ideally complements Old Testament survey resources.

“Knowing the language of any culture is insufficient to understand that language,” Hilber said. “Language makes allusion to all sorts of cultural artifacts, institutions and social dynamics. If you don’t understand that culture, you don’t understand the words that are being used; we understand words, in part, by understanding the cultural background too.”

Gaining the attention of scholars and professors, the book sold out at conferences hosted by the Evangelical Theological Society, the American Schools of Oriental Research and the Society of Biblical Literature.

“I’m glad that Jonathan’s name comes first,” Hilber reflected. “This project was his brainchild. He won’t say it, but I will.”

Learn More

To learn more and read an excerpt of the book, visit

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