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Capital University News, California State University, Sacramento

November 10, 2003

Book explores history of the Bible

For those who don’t know the difference between Sodom and Gomorrah, help has arrived. Two CSUS professors have co-authored, The Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, a beginner’s guide to the origins, themes, and controversies of the Hebrew Bible and the later Biblical writings known as the Apocrypha.

“It’s not written for the specialist, it’s not written for the academic, it’s for those who want to know more about the Old Testament,” says co-author Robert Platzner, professor of humanities and religious studies. “It’s designed to be accessible to the average student and the non-academic reading public.” He and humanities and religious studies professor emeritus Stephen Harris put the book together with the novice in mind.

The book strives to get to the meanings of the works as they were originally intended by the authors, subsequent editors, and first readers. It also tries to give today’s reader a sense of the “life setting” the first biblical works were created in.

“The life setting is the historical context out of which the various books of the Hebrew Bible emerged,” Platzner explained. Much of that comes from biblical archaeology, a field that provides a changing, fragmentary, and often controversial view of biblical times.

“So much of this consists of conjecture that at every point of the argument you must caution students to be wary,” Platzner says. “But those controversies make their way into this book.”

Although Platzner says he and Harris did their best remain as neutral and objective as possible, he suspects that some will take issue with it.

“Some religious communities will find it controversial because it doesn’t mesh with their dogmatic views or their chronology of events,” he says.

Regardless of how each reader may react, Platzner says everyone should find the book easy to use. It’s logically organized and each chapter includes topics and key terms and review questions along with selections that explore issues in more depth. In addition the book offers a variety of maps, illustrations and chronologies.


California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 •
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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 •