You might be interested to hear Martin Tanner’s interview with Curt Bench this Sunday, April 13, at 6:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 9:30 p.m. (take your pick) on KSL Radio, 1160 AM & 102.7 FM (you can also access it at Martin’s excellent weekly program, “Religion Today,” has been broadcast for 25 years now. He and Curt discuss Benchmark Books, their history, and how they do what they do best: buy, find, and sell LDS books, in-print, out-of-print, used, and rare.


  • SAINTSSaints Observed: Studies of Mormon Village Life, 1850-2005 by Howard Bahr. University of Utah. Hardback. $37.95The most complete overview and assessment of Mormon village studies available, this volume extends the canon twofold. First, it presents a rich composite view of nineteenth-century Mormon life in the West as seen by qualified observers who did not just pass through but stopped and studied. Second, it connects that early protoethnography to scholarly Mormon village studies in the twentieth century, showing their proper context in the thriving field of community studies. Based mostly on nine famous travelers’ accounts of life among the Mormons, including Richard Burton, Elizabeth Kane, Howard Stansbury, John Gunnison, and Julius Benchley—Bahr’s volume introduces these talented observers, summarizes and analyzes their observation, and constructs a holistic overview of Mormon village life. He concludes by tracing the rise and continuity of Mormon village studies in the twentieth century, beginning with Lowry Nelson’s 1923 research in Escalante, Utah.
  • FOURFour Classic Mormon Village Studies by Howard Bahr with contributions from Edward C. Banfield, Henri Mendras, Thomas F. O’Dea and Wilfrid C. Bailey. University of Utah. Hardback. $40.00Saints Observed: Studies of Mormon Village Life, 1850–2005 serves as a comprehensive introduction to this second volume, which makes available four of the best Mormon village studies, all previously unpublished. These postwar village studies differ substantially from earlier village studies initiated by Nelson’s work and offer in-depth investigations by observers who lived and participated in village life. Together, they capture in rich detail the dayto- day life of mid-century Mormon villagers. Editor Howard Bahr’s afterword highlights changes in the four villages across the past half-century, drawing upon recent site visits, interviews, and texts.
  • CALLEDCalled to Teach: The Legacy of Karl G. Maeser by A. LeGrand Richards. RSC/Deseret Book. Hardback. $32.99Karl G. Maeser has rightfully been called the spiritual architect not only of Brigham Young University but also of the Church Educational System. As the first superintendent of Church Education, he helped develop and maintain over fifty academies and schools from Canada to Mexico. He helped develop the public education system in Utah and helped establish the Utah Teachers Association. The students he taught personally included future United States senators and members of the House of Representatives, a United States Supreme Court justice, university presidents, and many General Authorities. He translated twenty-nine hymns and about a third of the Doctrine and Covenants into German and founded Der Stern, the Church’s German magazine, now called the Liahona. Based on extensive research, Called to Teach describes the life of this remarkable man and explores the impact of his legacy.
  • WOMENWomen of Faith in the Latter Days, Volume Three: 1846-1870 by Richard Turley and Brittany Chapman. Deseret Book. Hardback. $29.99This volume, the third in a series of seven, represents women born between 1846 and 1870. They lived in a rapidly changing world, and many experienced the expansion of opportunities for women, including the advent of mass communication and increased travel. In this volume, you will meet both leading and little known women, including general Relief Society presidents Clarissa S. Williams and Louise Y. Robison, as well as the wife of a Maori chief who migrated to Utah, a suffragist of national prominence who helped secure women’s rights, a polygamous wife who supported her family as a pioneering photographer, and a southern Utah housewife who became he first mayor of an all-woman town council. The faith and determination exhibited in each woman’s story, no matter how humble, offer inspiration and strength as we endeavor to live our own lives of faith today.


in god's













Jeffrey Bradshaw, author of the recently-published In God’s Image and Likeness 2: Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel (see below for his other books), will be here for an informal lunchtime signing on Monday, April 7.  He will be here from 12 to 1 to chat, answer questions and sign copies of his books. Please let us know if you are planning on coming and we can hold copies of the books for you.  If you can’t make it in but would like to get signed copies held for pick up or to be mailed to you, please let us know as well.

This volume contains the most comprehensive commentary ever published on the beautiful and doctrinally rich chapters of the book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible that relate the stories of Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. The commentary combines prophetic insights, excerpts from ancient texts, current scientific perspectives, and up-to-date biblical scholarship – all presented from a perspective of faith. Each section of the book is prefaced by an overview illuminating major themes and issues. This is followed by the text of each chapter of scripture, accompanied by a detailed phrase-by-phrase commentary designed to give the modern reader both an understanding of the plain sense of the words as well as their significance in context. Based on the first complete transcriptions of the original manuscripts of the Joseph Smith Translation, significant textual variants are identified and discussed. Of special interest to LDS readers is the light that these chapters shed on temple worship. A detailed study of this book of scripture in conjunction with ancient and modern sources suggests striking parallels with temple themes. Insights on these topics from LDS scripture and prophets, as well as relevant extracts from the works of Hugh Nibley and other religious scholars, historians, philosophers, scientists, literary specialists, playwrights, musicians, and artists are found on nearly every page of the book. The book also features an extensive annotated bibliography on ancient and modern sources relating to the stories of Enoch and Noah. An additional highlight is the collection of more than a hundred carefully chosen color or black-and-white figures, photographs, and illustrations relating to the text – themselves also the subject of detailed commentary.

For a full review, click here.

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) in Pensacola, Florida ( His professional writings have explored a wide range of topics in human and machine intelligence.  He has also authored  articles on temple studies and the ancient Near East for Studies in the Bible and AntiquityElement: A Journal of Mormon Philosophy and TheologyInterpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, and BYU Studies (see In addition to his invited presentation at the 2013 Academy for Temple Studies Enoch Conference, he taught at the 2013 BYU Campus Education Week, spoke at the 2013 Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, and was an organizer and presenter at the 2013 Interpreter Symposium on Science and Mormonism: Cosmos, Earth, and Man. Jeff serves as a Vice President of The Interpreter Foundation ( and as a member of the Academy for Temple Studies Group Advisory Board (

In God’s Image and Likeness 2: Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen. The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014. 567pp. Oversize hardback. $49.99.


Other Jeffrey Bradshaw Titles:

  • In God’s Image and Likeness: Ancient & Modern Perspectives on the Book of Moses (2 vols.). Eborn Books, 2014. 1098pp. Oversize paperback. $59.99/set
  • Temple Themes in the Book of Moses. Eborn Books, 2010. 382pp. Oversize paperback. $19.99 (black and white)/$59.95 (two volume full-color set
  • Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. Eborn Books, 2012. 210pp. Oversize paperback. $19.99 (black and white)/$29.99 (full color)



We have posted videos from our last two signings:

David Bokovoy–Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy (March 26th)

Newell Bringhurst & Craig Foster–The Persistence of Polygamy: From Joseph Smith’s Martyrdom to the First Manifesto, 1844-1890 (March 5th)

They are located above under the Events tab or by clicking here

Just a reminder…

We are excited to announce the publication of Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis–Deuteronomy (the first volume in a trilogy)by David Bokovoy, published by Greg Kofford Books.  We will have the author at our store to speak about and sign his book on Wednesday, March 26.  He will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., speaking at 6:00, and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

To get a sneak peak, check out the interview David and Curt Bench did with KSL’s Doug Wright on his “Everyday Lives, Everyday Values” program.  The podcast feed is available here or you can listen directly to the interview here.


All right, all those that love blarney in book form–to celebrate St. Patty’s, come in wearing green (phone orders, you’re on the honor system!), mention this post and save 10%.  Also, any book with green on the cover is 10% off!  (a very few exceptions apply)


authoring Bokovoy













We are excited to announce the publication of Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis–Deuteronomy (the first volume in a trilogy), by David Bokovoy, published by Greg Kofford Books.  We will have the author at our store to speak about and sign his book on Wednesday, March 26.  He will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., speaking at 6:00, and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

For the last two centuries, biblical scholars have made discoveries and insights about the Old Testament that have greatly changed the way in which the authorship of these ancient scriptures has been understood. In the first of three volumes spanning the entire Hebrew Bible, David Bokovoy dives into the Pentateuch, showing how and why textual criticism has led biblical scholars today to understand the first five books of the Bible as an amalgamation of multiple texts into a single, though often complicated narrative; and he discusses what implications that has for Latter-day Saint understandings of the Bible and modern scripture.

Authoring the Old Testament is a welcome introduction, from a faithful Latter-day Saint perspective, to the academic world of Higher Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. . . . [R]eaders will be positively served and firmly impressed by the many strengths of this book, coupled with Bokovoy’s genuine dedication to learning by study and also by faith.” — John W. Welch, author and editor of BYU Studies Quarterly

David Bokovoy holds a PhD in Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East and an MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies both from Brandeis University. He received his BA from Brigham Young University, majoring in History and minoring in Near Eastern Studies. In addition to his work in Mormon studies, David has published articles on the Hebrew Bible in a variety of academic venues including the Journal of Biblical LiteratureVetus TestamentumStudies in the Bible and Antiquity, and the FARMS Review.  He currently teaches courses in Bible and Mormon Studies at the University of Utah.

Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis–Deuteronomy. Greg Kofford Books, 2014. 248pp. Paperback–$26.95/Hardback–$70.00


Shipping: Media mail (w/ tracking): $4.50 for the first book (inquire for rates on additional books). Priority, FedEx, UPS options available—inquire for details

Utah residents: add 7.05% sales tax

We have just purchased a very large collection–it includes many recently-published excellent books in as-new condition.  Here is the first of what will be many batches… Come in and take a look! We will periodically post photos on Facebook (–keep your eyes peeled!

Just a reminder that we are having an event for  The Persistence of Polygamy: From Joseph Smith’s Martyrdom to the First Manifesto, 1844-1890 (vol. 2)edited by Newell G. Bringhurst and Craig L. Foster, published by John Whitmer Books.  We will have the editors (and several contributors) at our store to speak about and sign their book on Wednesday, March 5.  They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., speaking at 6:00, and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. To RSVP on Facebook, visit here.

We have received an onslaught of very welcome new and sale titles in the last few weeks.  As always, you can e-mail us with an order ( or call (801-486-3111)


persistenceThe Persistence of Polygamy: From Joseph Smith’s Martyrdom to the First Manifesto, 1844-1890 ed. by Newell G. Bringhurst and Craig L. Foster. John Whitmer Books, 2014. 372pp. Hardback. $39.95. **we will be having a signing with the editors on March 5th—let us know if you would like to preorder a signed copy** In a much anticipated sequel to their first volume, Bringhurst and Foster have assembled an incredible team of contributors to explore the diverse expressions and implications of Mormon polygamy in the later 19th century. Original articles include:

  • For “Time and All Eternity”: The Complex Brigham Young Polygamous Household by Jeffery Ogden Johnson
  • Brigham Young, African Americans, and Plural Marriage: Schism and the Beginnings of Black Priesthood and Temple Denial by Connell O’ Donovan
  • LDS Joseph vs. RLDS Joseph: The Battle to Control the Public Memory of Joseph Smith by Don Bradley and Brian C. Hales
  • The RLDS Church’s Directive on Baptism of Saora Tribal Polygamists: Canonizing Administrative Policy, 1967–1972 by Richard P. Howard
  • in god'sIn God’s Image and Likeness 2: Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen. The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014. 567pp. Oversize hardback. $49.95. This volume contains the most comprehensive commentary ever published on the beautiful and doctrinally rich chapters of the book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible that relate the stories of Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. The commentary combines prophetic insights, excerpts from ancient texts, current scientific perspectives, and up-to-date biblical scholarship – all presented from a perspective of faith. Each section of the book is prefaced by an overview illuminating major themes and issues. This is followed by the text of each chapter of scripture, accompanied by a detailed phrase-by-phrase commentary designed to give the modern reader both an understanding of the plain sense of the words as well as their significance in context. Based on the first complete transcriptions of the original manuscripts of the Joseph Smith Translation, significant textual variants are identified and discussed.
  • sustainingSustaining the Law: Joseph Smith’s Legal Encounters ed. by Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey N. Walker, and John W. Welch. BYU Studies, 2014. 563pp. Hardback. $24.95. Joseph Smith believed in sustaining the law. This book presents his main legal encounters in the context of his day. Party to more than two hundred suits in the courts of New York, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and elsewhere, he faced criminal charges as well as civil claims and collection matters. In the end, he was never convicted of any crime, and paid his debts. These incidents were significant institutionally as well as personally. Eleven legal scholars analyze these legal encounters. Topics cover constitutional law, copyright, disorderly conduct, association, assault, marriage, banking, land preemptive rights, treason, municipal charters, bankruptcy, guardianship, habeas corpus, adultery, and freedom of the press. A massive legal chronology collects key information about Joseph’s life in the law. An appendix provides biographies of sixty lawyers and judges with whom he was involved, some being the best legal minds of his day.
  • 20140228_150922_resizedThe Mendon Saints-Their Lives and Legacy -Volume 3 by Stephen Schwendiman. Eborn Books, 2014. 863pp. Hardback. $49.99. The third in a four-volume series. Each volume explores not only a history of the Church in Mendon but follows the lives of every family member who was living in Mendon at the time the branch was active. From this small town of Mendon came prophets, apostles, missionaries, stake presidents, bishops, and Relief Society workers. They helped establish the Church in New York, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and Utah. Their influence was remarkable and is capsulized in the biographical histories that compose this work. This volume focuses on the John Morton family, the William Bostwick Stilson family (including Feramorz Little) and, significantly, the Brigham Young family.
  • foreignA Foreign Kingdom: Mormons and Polygamy in American Political Culture, 1852-1890 by Christine Talbot. University of Illinois Press, 2013. 262pp. Paperback–$30.00/Hardback (no dj)–$85.00. The years from 1852 to 1890 marked a controversial period in Mormonism, when the church’s official embrace of polygamy put it at odds with wider American culture. In this study, Christine Talbot explores the controversial era, discussing how plural marriage generated decades of cultural and political conflict over competing definitions of legitimate marriage, family structure, and American identity. In particular, Talbot examines “the Mormon question” with attention to how it constructed ideas about American citizenship around the presumed separation of the public and private spheres.
  • gatheringGathering as One: The History of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City by Elwin C. Robison with W. Randall Dixon. BYU Press, 2013. 278pp. Oblong hardback. $39.95. One of the most famous landmarks in the American West, the Salt Lake Tabernacle held the North American record for the widest unsupported interior space at its completion in 1867. Finished two years before the arrival of the railroad, it was constructed primarily of local stone, timber, and adobe. One of a long succession of buildings constructed to permit members of the Mormon faith to hear from their prophet, the Tabernacle accommodated over 13,000 people. A recent seismic upgrade provided a unique opportunity to view details of the historic building. Construction challenges, acoustics, the development of the organ, and subsequent alterations and upgrades are amply illustrated, providing a complete story of this magnificent edifice.
  • illuminIlluminating the Dead Sea Scrolls: Mysteries of Qumran Revealed by Donald W. Parry. Neal A. Maxwell Institute, 2014. 91pp. Oversize paperback. $16.95. Described by many scholars as the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century, the Dead Sea Scrolls contain the oldest biblical manuscripts ever found. The lavishly illustrated Illuminating the Dead Sea Scrolls (written by a member of the translation team) introduces readers to these spectacular scrolls—from their discovery, to the selling and reselling of the scrolls for profit, to the publication of their texts, and finally to the technological advances that help scholars study the scrolls today. Inside you’ll discover how the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal previously unknown psalms, restore a missing verse from Psalm 145, and describe a treasure worthy of Indiana Jones (the treasure has yet to be found).
  • reachingReaching the Nations: International Church Growth Almanac: 2014 Edition (Vol. 1: The Americas, Oceania & Europe/ Vol. 2: Asia & Africa) ed. by David G. Stewart, Jr. and Matthew Martinich. The Cumorah Foundation, 2013. 976/941pp. Oversize paperback. $53.99/ea.  The most comprehensive almanac ever compiled, Reaching the Nations contains detailed country and regional profiles with overview of history, economy, politics, culture, and religion, along with research and analysis of growth, opportunities and challenges of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world. For an article looking at the books, visit
  • john packJohn Pack: As Revealed in the Records. John Pack Family Association, 2012. 302pp. Oversize hardback. $25.00. Now available again! This book about Pack was prompted by the discovery of records since publication of Davis Bitton’s The Redoubtable John Pack. Pack, an early convert, wore several hats in Nauvoo: policeman, member of the Nauvoo Legion and, most notably, member of the Council of Fifty. He served as a captain of 50 in the vanguard pioneer company—once settled, his home hosted the first classes for the University of Deseret. Most notable are heretofore untranscribed letters and papers made available by David K. Pack, family records and artifacts held by Annette Frederickson, and records uncovered over many years by Reed Wahlquist, all of which have been generously shared with The John Pack Family Association. A family association committee further researched and compiled a time-line as comprehensive as possible of records that directly speak of the life of John Pack and his family during his lifetime (1809-1885). This book contains this time-line and accompanying records. The book therefore supplements Bitton’s work
  • twibleThe Twible: All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less by Jana Riess. Jana Riess, 2013. 320pp. Paperback. $19.95. You’ve wanted to read the Bible, but it’s uber-long and, let’s face it, sometimes boring. You’re a busy person with stuff to do. You want the Bible, only funnier. Enter The Twible, which brings you every chapter as tweeted in 140 characters or less, from Genesis to Revelation! Find out what the Bible says you’re supposed to do if a friend starts worshiping another god, your child disrespects you in public, or you break the Sabbath. (The answers to those dilemmas are to stone your friend, stone your child, and stone yourself. In that order.) Learn where Paul swears in the New Testament, and why Jeremiah could benefit from antidepressants.
  • awakeAwake & Arise: Coming Tribulation & Judgment, with a Mighty and Strong One to Deliver: The Last-days According to Isaiah. Digital Legend, 2013. Oversize paperback. $19.95. God has revealed His will to all his prophets in scripture, whether it is Isaiah in the old world or Lehi in the new. The important teachings and prophecies of Isaiah have been repeated more than any other in scripture. This includes the words of Christ and those of Peter, Paul and John the Beloved. One third, or 21 of Isaiah’s 66 chapters are part of the Book of Mormon. The Doctrine and Covenants also quotes Isaiah extensively. It appears that the great prophet Isaiah teaches three major things which are not discussed in traditional commentaries on his prophecies for us. This book addresses what those are…. and what they could mean.


  • prattParley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism by Terryl L. Givens and Matthew J. Grow. Hardback. Reg $34.95, SALE $9.99. Tracing the life of this colorful and influential figure from his hardscrabble origins in upstate New York to his murder in 1857, Terryl Givens and Matthew Grow explore the crucial role Pratt played in the formation and expansion of early Mormonism. One of the best biographies in recent memory and winner of the 2012 MHA Best Book Award.
  • bibleBible: The Story of the King James Version: 1611-2011 by Gordon Campbell. Hardback. Reg. $24.95, SALE $9.99. Lavishly illustrated with reproductions from early editions of the KJB, Bible: The Story of the King James Version offers a vivid and authoritative history of this renowned translation, ranging from the Bible’s inception to the present day.
  • paradoxPeople of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture by Terryl L. Givens. Paperback. Reg. $24.95, SALE $6.99. Givens divides Mormon history into two periods, separated by the renunciation of polygamy in 1890. In each, he explores the life of the mind, the emphasis on education, the importance of architecture and urban planning (so apparent in Salt Lake City and Mormon temples around the world), and Mormon accomplishments in music and dance, theater, film, literature, and the visual arts.
  • mormonsMormons: An Open Book by Anthony Sweat. Paperback. Reg. $16.99, SALE $4.99. Written from the perspective of those who know and live the religion, the pages of Mormons: An Open Book invite you to come in, learn about, and better understand a growing body of faith in American and across the world: Mormonism.
  • whyWhy I’m a Mormon ed. by Joseph A. Cannon. Paperback. Reg. $19.99, SALE $9.99. A collection of individual journeys of faith by dozens of stalwart, modern Mormons some prominent, others less well-known but no less impressive. Contributors share brief reflections on how their feelings about the gospel and their involvement in the Church have shaped and enriched their lives.
  • howHow We Got the Book of Mormon by Richard E. Turley, Jr.& William W. Slaughter. Hardback. Reg. $34.99, SALE $14.99. This finely-crafted book (complete with endsheets) tells the story of the translation and publication of all significant editions of the Book of Mormon.  Accompanied by fantastic photographs from the Church History Library’s collection.
  • d&CHow We Got the Doctrine & Covenants by Richard E. Turley, Jr.& William W. Slaughter. Hardback. Reg. $34.99, SALE $14.99. This finely-crafted book (complete with endsheets) tells the story of the translation and publication of all significant editions of the Doctrine and Covenants.  Accompanied by fantastic photographs from the Church History Library’s collection.
  • bowmanThe Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith by Matthew Bowman. Hardback. Reg. $26.00, SALE $5.99. “From one of the brightest of the new generation of Mormon-studies scholars comes a crisp, engaging account of the religion’s history.”—The Wall Street Journal“[A] smart, lucid history.”—Tom Brokaw
  • hoseaThe Autobiography of Hosea Stout ed. by Reed A. Stout, rev. by Stephen L. Prince. Paperback. Reg. $12.95, SALE $4.99. Includes two versions of his autobiography: the earlier covering his life until 1844 and the later version covering his life until 1835.
  • rascalA Rascal By Nature, A Christian By Yearning: A Mormon Autobiography by Levi S. Peterson. Hardback. Reg. $29.95, SALE $4.99. Peterson has won a wide readership for his novels and short stories, his prize-winning biography of historian Juanita Brooks, and the essays that have appeared with regularity in western and Mormon literary and historical journals. In his autobiography, he describes growing up on the Mormon frontier of rural Arizona, his growing skepticism with his Mormon faith, his teaching career at Weber State University, and his struggle to understand and master personal crises of confidence.
  • blackandmormonBlack and Mormon ed. by Newell G. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith. Paperback. Reg. $20.95, SALE $4.99. The articles collected in this volume look at the mechanisms used to keep blacks from full participation, the motives behind the ban, and the kind of changes that have – and have not – taken place within the church since the revelation responsible for its end.


Here is part two of our Old Testament resource suggestions—this part contains more specialized titles (if you missed part one—with introductory books—click here).

Most of these titles (particularly the non-Mormon ones) will need to be special ordered. Please let us know which titles you would like by Feb 28th  so that we can place the order.

As we did with the first part, we are offering free shipping on any order placed from this list.

Textual Studies

tovTextual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible by Emanuel Tov. Fortress, 2011. 512pp. Hardback. $90.00.

From the publisher:  In this thoroughly revised third edition, Emanuel Tov has incorporated the insights of the last ten years of scholarship, including new perspectives on the biblical texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls, all of which have now been published. Here are expanded discussions of the contribution of textual criticism to biblical exegesis and of the role of scribes in the transmission of the text. The introduction and references throughout the book have been thoroughly revised with the beginning student of textual criticism in mind.

Our thoughts: A very interesting analysis from one of the most-respected scholars of the Hebrew Bible. Discusses the history of the text, types of and reasons for textual variants.  Very detailed and fairly technical language. If you are willing to work for it, this is easily the best book on the subject.


wurthweinThe Text of the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Biblia Hebraica by Ernst Wurthwein. Eerdmans, 1994. 307pp. Paperback. $30.00.

From the publisher: This classic introduction to textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible is now entirely updated in the light of new critical editions of the texts and recent contributions and findings in the various areas of history of the text-especially the Masoretic text, the Septuagint, the Peshitta, and the Dead Sea Scrolls-and of textual criticism. A new chapter discusses the significance of textual criticism and the history of the text, and a new appendix provides resources for textual research. Includes 439 b&w plates of texts and inscriptions.

Our thoughts: Very much the equivalent of the Alands’ Text of the New Testament.  Discusses all the major types of texts: Masoretic (codices, papyrus) and Dead Sea Scrolls, Aramaic, Septuagint, Syriac, etc.  Also includes a brief discussion of the types of variants seen and probable causes.  The last half of the book is B&W plates of most of the important textual witnesses.  A very solid albeit brief resource.

brotzmanOld Testament Textual Criticism: A Practical Introduction by Ellis R. Brotzman. Baker, 1993. 208pp. Paperback. $21.99.

From the publisher: This basic guide to textual criticism and critical apparatus offers an introduction to the Hebrew texts and versions, the theory of textual criticism, and the technical notes in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Readers learn to evaluate variant readings and understand transmission and manuscript history.

Our thoughts: Similar to the Wurthwein text but includes more discussion of the types of variants.  Very useful “hands-on” chapter showing how to apply textual criticism principles to the book of Ruth.  Also discusses how to use Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.




halotThe Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 2 vols. ed. by Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner and Johann Jakob Stamm. Brill, 2001. 912 + 1190pp. Hardback. $302.00

From the publisher: In this Study Edition the complete vocabulary of the Hebrew Bible, including those parts of books which are written in Aramaic, is available. The dictionary combines scholarly thoroughness with easy accessibility, and so meets the needs of a wide range of users. The enormous advances that have taken place in the field of Semitic linguistics since the days of the older dictionaries of Classical Hebrew are well documented and assessed, as well as the often detailed discussions in modern Bible commentaries of words where the meaning is particularly difficult. But the alphabetical ordering of entries rather than the traditional arrangement of words according to their roots is particularly helpful to the new student, and also saves the advanced user much time.

Our thoughts: The best lexicon available.  Word entries are in Hebrew so it does require a basic grasp of the alphabet. Far more up to date than any other lexicon out there—particularly so with suggested etymologies.  Pricey but a key resource for serious study.

scribalScribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible by Karel van der Toorn. Harvard, 2009. 416pp. Hardback. $24.00.

From the publisher: We think of the Hebrew Bible as the Book–and yet it was produced by a largely nonliterate culture in which writing, editing, copying, interpretation, and public reading were the work of a professional elite. The scribes of ancient Israel are indeed the main figures behind the Hebrew Bible, and in this book Karel van der Toorn tells their story for the first time. His book considers the Bible in very specific historical terms, as the output of the scribal workshop of the Second Temple active in the period 500-200 BCE. Drawing comparisons with the scribal practices of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, van der Toorn clearly details the methods, the assumptions, and the material means of production that gave rise to biblical texts.

Our thoughts: A fascinating look at an ignored aspect of the production of the Hebrew Bible—the society was largely illiterate and scribes formed their own elite class. Among other insights, van der Toorn notes that most authors in antiquity would not sign a work and documents would often be written under another name.  Well-written and full of thought-provoking conclusions.

socialA Social History of Hebrew: Its Origins Through the Rabbinic Period by William M. Schniedewind. Yale, 2013. 280pp. Hardback. $35.00.

From the publisher: More than simply a method of communication shared by a common people, the Hebrew language was always an integral part of the Jewish cultural system and, as such, tightly interwoven into the lives of the prophets, poets, scribes, and priests who used it. In this unique social history, Schniedewind examines classical Hebrew from its origins in the second millennium BCE until the Rabbinic period, when the principles of Judaism as we know it today were formulated, to view the story of the Israelites through the lens of their language.

Our thoughts: Part of the Anchor Bible Reference Library. A very insightful perspective based on a seemingly obvious premise—Hebrew arose and evolved due to social forces.  The author argues against some earlier claims—for example, he uses archaeological evidence to posit that the exile was not in fact a time when Hebrew in general and its literature flourished.  Does involve a healthy amount of linguistic terminology.


pentThe Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis by Joel S. Baden. Yale, 2012. 392pp. Hardback. $65.00.

From the publisher: Joel Baden presents a fresh and comprehensive argument for the Documentary Hypothesis. Critically engaging both older and more recent scholarship, he fundamentally revises and reorients the classical model of the formation of the Pentateuch. Interweaving historical and methodological chapters with detailed textual case studies, Baden provides a critical introduction to the history of Pentateuchal scholarship, discussions on the most pressing issues in the current debate, and a practical model for the study of the biblical text.

Our thoughts: Part of the Anchor Bible Reference Library. The Documentary Hypothesis has been increasingly attacked as being too inefficient at explaining the final nature of the text.  Baden offers a new perspective that looks beyond simple linguistic criteria (i.e. whether the narrative uses Jehovah or Elohim) and requires each textual strand that emerges to tell a coherent and cohesive story.  Following the chapters where he describes the four strands is a narrative example where he separates the accounts. Very compelling but not overly technical.

jstThe Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament: A Side-By-Side Comparison with the King James Version ed. by Thomas A. Wayment. Deseret Book, 2009. 220pp. Hardback. $29.95. This concise, at-a-glance reference work presents every change the Prophet Joseph Smith made to the Old Testament, including the text of the book of Moses and many changes to Genesis, Isaiah, Psalms, and others — compared side-by-side with the corresponding verse of the King James Version. Several years ago, a team of Brigham Young University scholars was given complete access to the Joseph Smith Translation manuscripts. This volume condenses into an exceptionally reader-friendly format the wealth of research that has been done with those manuscripts.






carrThe Formation of the Hebrew Bible: A New Reconstruction by David M. Carr. Oxford, 2011. 544pp. Hardback. $74.00.

From the publisher: David Carr rethinks both the methods and historical orientation points for research into the growth of the Hebrew Bible into its present form. Building on his prior work, Writing on the Tablet of the Heart (Oxford, 2005), he explores both the possibilities and limits of reconstruction of pre-stages of the Bible. The result is a new picture of the formation of the Hebrew Bible, with insights on the initial emergence of Hebrew literary textuality, the development of the first Hexateuch, and the final formation of the Hebrew Bible.

Our thoughts: Unlike some scholars (who think that the majority of the Hebrew Bible was compiled at once), Carr argues that texts are strewn along a long period.  He locates the final effort to create a “standard” text came in the Hasmonean period. Very good in using regional context and information from other social science perspectives.  Detailed but not overly technical. An interesting fresh perspective from a well-known scholar.


limThe Formation of the Jewish Canon by Timothy Lim. Yale, 2013. 288pp. Hardback. $45.00.

From the publisher: Timothy Lim here presents a complete account of the formation of the canon in Ancient Judaism from the emergence of the Torah in the Persian period to the final acceptance of the list of twenty-two/twenty-four books in the Rabbinic period. Using many ancient sources as primary evidence he argues that throughout the post-exilic period up to around 100 CE there was not one official “canon” accepted by all Jews; rather, there existed a plurality of collections of scriptures that were authoritative for different communities

Our thoughts: Part of the Anchor Bible Reference Library. Lim starts by reviewing previous theories on how the canon developed (was there actually a council at Jamnia, did the Torah, Prophets and Writings develop in stages, etc). He argues that there was no decision-making meeting at Jamnia and that—in the absence of any central governing body—debate about Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Ruth and Esther continued.  While most Jews likely agreed on a canon in the first century CE, it was probably not until the next century that the canon “closed” in a substantive manner.


smithThe Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel by Mark S. Smith. Eerdmans, 2002. 289pp. Paperback. $34.00.

From the publisher: In this history of the development of monotheism, Mark S. Smith how Israel’s religion evolved from a cult of Yahweh as a primary deity among many to a fully defined religion with Yahweh as sole god. Repudiating the traditional view that Israel was fundamentally different in culture and religion from its Canaanite neighbors, this provocative book argues that Israelite religion developed, at least in part, from the religion of Canaan. Looking at a wide range of sources, Smith cogently demonstrates that Israelite religion was not an outright rejection of foreign, pagan gods but, rather, was the result of the establishment of a distinctly separate Israelite identity that included the recognition of a singular, universal deity.

Our thoughts: A very paradigm-shifting book—Smith shows that the development of monotheism in Israel’s religion did not involve swift, surgical separation from the religions of the area but was a slow evolution. The author shows how vestiges of these other deities are woven into the Hebrew Bible to a much greater degree than most readers have ever noticed.  Very interesting but does involve quite a bit of Semitic vocabulary.

whoWho Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? by William G. Dever. Eerdmans, 2006. 280pp. Paperback. $24.00.

From the publisher: For centuries, the Western tradition has traced its beginnings back to ancient Israel, but recently some historians and archaeologists have questioned the reality of Israel as it is described in biblical literature. In “Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?”, William Dever explores the continuing controversies regarding the true nature of ancient Israel and presents the archaeological evidence for assessing the accuracy of the well-known Bible stories.

Our thoughts: Dever, never one to shy away from controversy if the evidence leads there, carefully amasses the archaeological evidence to show that the traditional account of the Exodus leading to the people of Israel settling into the land of Israel is not supported.  As per his usual style, it is an approachable yet academic look at the question.



livesThe Lives of Ordinary People in Ancient Israel: Where Archaeology and the Bible Intersect by William G. Dever. Eerdmans, 2012. 446pp. Paperback. $25.00.

From the publishers: The Lives of Ordinary People tells the untold story of how the vast majority of Israelites — the people who are usually overlooked in “typical” histories of ancient Israel — lived during the eighth century BCE. William G. Dever applies the latest archaeological evidence and his own considerable expertise to answer the question What was it really like to live in Israel’s divided kingdom?

Our thoughts: An entertaining look at the “common man” in ancient Israel.  As it is based mainly on archaeological data, a basic understanding of historical periods (Iron, Bronze Age, etc.) is helpful but not necessary.  As accessible as this type of book could be.




A History of Ancient Israel and Judah (2nd ed.). by J. Maxwell Miller and John H. Hayes. Westminster John Knox, 2006. 552pp. Paperback. $40.00.

From the publisher: This classic textbook, widely used for over two decades, constructs a history of ancient Israel and Judah through a thorough investigation of epigraphical, archaeological, and biblical sources. Approaching biblical history as history, Miller and Hayes examine the political and economic factors that give context to the Israelite monarchy’s actions and the biblical writers’ accounts. Now updated with the latest research and critical discoveries, including the Tel Dan Inscription, and considering the lively debate surrounding the reliability of biblical accounts.

Our thoughts: The classic one volume history—recently updated. A very useful “march through Old Testament history” in a traditional, chronological format. Several good introductory chapters set the stage and discuss the nature of ancient “history” and the use of folk materials by the biblical writers. Not technical.


ascendAscending the Mountain of the Lord: Temple, Praise, and Worship in the Old Testament (42nd Sperry Symposium) ed. by David R. Seely, et al. Salt Lake City: RSC/Deseret Book, 2013. 413pp. $25.99.

The Psalmist asks, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” This year’s Sperry Symposium discusses ascending into the Lord’s mountain within the context of theophany, ancient temple worship, sacred space, sacrifice, offerings, and hymns and songs in the text of the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon. The scriptures contain a rich treasury of information of how ancient Israelites and the people in the Book of Mormon worshipped God and expressed themselves through ritual and devotions as found in the Psalms. These explorations of ancient temple worship help us to better understand and appreciate latter-day temple and worship traditions.

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