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101 Questions & Answers on the Historical Books of the Bible

Victor H. Matthews
Paulist Press, 2009

Reviewed by Karyl Davison.

Part of the 101 Questions & Answers series, this little volume is designed to be used as a companion to designated portions of biblical text.

In this particular case, the focus is on the so called historical books and historical materials in the Bible.

In the first chapter, Mr Matthews addresses the critical questions about what we mean when we talk about ‘historical books’ in the context of the Bible, as well as some basic explanations about the character of history, archaeology and living conditions that existed in the ancient Near East.

The rest of the book answers questions about particular time periods of ancient Israel from the transition to monarchy, the time of the Davidic dynasty and the subsequent division of the kingdom into north and south.

Key factors in the development of Jewish identity both in the countries of the exile and within the community of those who returned are discussed.

The final section then deals with Israel’s relation to the succession of foreign masters, from the Persians through to the Romans.

101 Questions & Answers is an excellent tool for lay preachers, students and ministers alike.

In addressing some fairly common questions with non-technical answers it gives the reader a better understanding of the biblical text as well as the political, economic and religious influences that shaped the context in which the bible was written.