Biblical Backgrounds Reading

Why Read Backgrounds?

Because "God uses their culture and their language to express who He is." -Sandra Richter. We as readers of Scripture must strive to learn the culture and language to appropriately learn about God. Furthermore, much of the Bible is history. So not only is God using their culture and language, but he is utilizing human history to touches our lives. So grab one of these books and have fun learning about the bible in a different light.

Top 10 books to start with!

  • Richter, Sandra. Epic of Eden

  • Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus

  • Jeffers, James. The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era

  • Hess, Richard. S. Israelite Religions: An Archaeological and Biblical Survey.

  • Green, The World of the New Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts

  • Arnold, The World around the Old Testament: The People and Places of the Ancient Near East

  • DeSilva, Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture

  • Dearman, Religion and Culture in Ancient Israel

  • Stevens. Leadership Roles of the Old Testament.

  • IVP Background Commentaries (2 Volumes)


  • Zondervan, NIV Cultural Background Study Bible

  • Zondervan, NIV Archaeology Study Bible

  • Zondervan, NIV Chronological Study Bible

Reference Volumes

  • Arnold, Clinton. Editor. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002

  • Hallo, William and Lawson Younger. The Context of Scripture: Canonical Compositions, Monumental Inscriptions and Archival Documents from the Biblical World. 3 vols. Leiden: EJ Brill, 2003.

  • Sparks, Kenton L. Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible: A Guide to the Background Literature. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005.

  • Walton, John. Editor. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.

Old Testament

History and Background

  • Long, V. Phillips, Tremper Longman, III, and Iain W. Provan. A Biblical History of Israel. 2nd ed. Westminster John Knox, 2015.

  • *Merrill, Eugene H. Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel. 2nd ed. Baker, 2008.

  • Oswalt, John N. The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature? Zondervan, 2009.

  • *Packer, J. I., and Merrill C. Tenney. Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible. Nelson, 1997.

  • *Walton, John H. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. 5 vols. Zondervan, 2009.

  • ———. Chronological Charts of the Old Testament. Zondervan, 1994.

  • ———. Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible, 2nd ed. Baker, 2018.


  • Cline, Eric. Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2009.

  • *Hess, Richard S. Israelite Religions: An Archaeological and Biblical Survey. Baker, 2007.

  • Kitchen, K. A. On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Eerdmans, 2003.

  • Price, J. Randall and H. Wayne House. Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology: A Book by Book Guide to Archaeological Discoveries Related to the Bible. Zondervan, 2017.



  • Arnold, Clinton, ed. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary. 4 vols. Zondervan, 2002.

  • Barnett, Paul W. Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times. IVP, 1999.

  • *Bock, Darrell. Jesus According to Scripture. Baker, 2002.

  • ———. Studying the Historical Jesus. Baker, 2002.

  • Carter, Warren. Seven Events That Shaped the New Testament World. Baker, 2013.

  • Evans, Craig A., and Stanley E. Porter, eds. Dictionary of New Testament Background. IVP, 2000.

  • Green, Joel B., and Lee Martin McDonald, eds.

  • The World of the New Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts. Baker, 2013.

  • House, Wayne H. Chronological and Background Charts of the New Testament. Zondervan. 2nd ed. 2009.

  • Jeffers, James S. The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era: Exploring the Background of Early Christianity. IVP, 2006.

  • Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. 2nd ed. IVP, 2014.

  • Wright, N. T. The New Testament and the People of God. Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 1. Fortress, 1992.


  • Finegan, Jack. The Archeology of the New Testament: The Life of Jesus and the Beginning of the Early Church. Rev. ed. Princeton University Press, 2014.

  • *McRay, John. Archaeology and the New Testament. Baker, 2008.

  • Price, J. Randall and H. Wayne House.

  • Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology: A Book by Book Guide to Archaeological Discoveries Related to the Bible. Zondervan, 2017.

  • Stephens, William H. The New Testament World in Pictures. Broadman, 1987.


  • Bierling, Neal. Giving Goliath His Due: New Archaeological Light on the Philistines. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.

  • Dothan, Trude. The Philistines and Their Material Culture. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1967.

  • Dothan, Trude & Moshe. People of the Sea: The Search for the Philistines. New York: Macmillan, 1992.

  • Hinson, E. E. The Philistines and the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1971.

  • Israel Exploration Society. The Philistines and the Other Sea Peoples. Jerusalem: Jerusalem Post Press, 1970.

  • Macalister, R. A. S. The Philistines, Their History and Civilization. London: Humphrey Milford, 1974.


  • Aldred, Cyril. Egypt to the End of the Old Kingdom. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965. . The Egyptians. New York: Praeger, 1961.

  • Aling, Charles F. Egypt and Bible History. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981.

  • Budge, E. A. Wallis. Egyptian Magic. NY: Dover Press, 1971 (Rep. from 1901). Currid, John D. Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997. David, A. Rosalie. The Egyptian Kingdom. London: Elsevier/Phaidon, 1975.

  • Emery, W. Archaic Egypt. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1962.

  • Glanville, S. R. D., ed. The Legacy of Egypt. Oxford: University Press, 1942. Grimal, Nicholas. History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1992.

  • Hobson, Christine. The World of the Pharaohs: A Complete Guide to Ancient Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson, 1987.

  • James, T. G. H. Ancient Egypt: The Land and Its Legacy. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1988. Montet, Pierre. Egypt and the Bible. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968.

  • Eternal Egypt. New York: New American Library, 1964.

  • Moret, Alexandra. The Nile and Egyptian Civilization. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1972. Ruffle, John. The Egyptians: An Introduction to Egyptian Archaeology. New York: Cornell University Press, 1977.

  • Ward, William A. Egypt and the East Mediterranean World, 2200-1900 BC. Beirut: American University, 1971.

  • White, J. E. M. Ancient Egypt. New York: Crowell, 1953.

  • Wilson, John A. The Culture of Ancient Egypt. Chicago: University Press, 1951.


  • Bittel, Kurt. Hattusha: The Capital of the Hittites. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.

  • Campbell, John. The Hittites: Their Inscriptions and their History. London: John Nimmo, 1891.

  • Contenau, Georges. La Civilization des Hittites et des Mitannieus. Paris: Payot, 1934.

  • Cowley, A. E. The Hittites. Oxford: University Press, 1926.

  • Garstang, John. The Geography of the Hittite Empire. London: British Inst. of Archaeology at Ankara, 1959.

  • The Hittite Empire. London: Constable and Company Ltd., 1929.

  • Guerney, O. R. The Hittites. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1952.

  • Macqueen, James G. The Hittites and Their Contemporaries in Asia Minor. London: Thames and Hudson, 1975.

Moab, Edom, Ammon, Midian

  • Bartlett, John R. Edom and the Edomites. JSOT Supplement Series #77. Sheffield, England: Academic Press, 1989.

  • Bennett, W. H. The Moabite Stone. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1911.

  • Dearman, Andrew. Studies in the Mesha Inscription and Moab. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989.

  • Jackson, Kent P. The Ammonite Language of the Iron Age. Chicago: Scholars Press, 1983.

  • Kasher, Aryeh. The Edomites. Stuttgart: J. C. B. Mohr, 1989.

  • Rosner, Dov. The Moabites and Their Relationships with the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the Military, Political and Cultural Spheres. Jerusalem: Major Press, 1976.

  • Sawyer, John F. A. and Clines, David J. A. Midian, Moab and Edom: The History and Archaeology of

  • Late Bronze and Iron Age Jordan and North-West Arabia. JSOT Supplement Series #24. Sheffield: Univ. of Sheffield Press, 1983.

  • Zil, A. van. The Moabites. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1960.


  • Heart, Clement. Ancient Persia and Iranian Civilization. New York: Barnes & Nobles, 1972.

  • Hot, Jean-Louis. Persia I, From the Organs to the Acuminates. Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1965. Matheson, Sylvia A. Persia: An Archaeological Guide. Park Ridge, NJ: Noyes Press, 1973.

  • Olmstead, A. T. History of the Persian Empire. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1959.

  • Yamauchi, Edwin. Persia and the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990.


  • Hilprecht, Herman V. The Excavations in Assyria and Babylonia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1904.

  • Jastrow, Morris. The Civilization of Babylonia and Assyria. New York: B. Blom, 1971.

  • Koldewey, Robert. The Excavations at Babylon. London: Macmillan, 1914.

  • Larue, Gerald. Babylon and the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969.

  • Layard, A. H. Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1953.

  • Macqueen, James G. Babylon. London: R. Hale, 1964.

  • Oates, Joan. Babylon. London: Thames and Hudson, 1979 (rev. 1988).

  • Parrot, Andre. Babylon and the Old Testament. New York: Philosophical Library, 1914.

  • Saggs, H. W. F. The Greatness That Was Babylon. New York: New American Library, Mentor Books, 1962.

Canaanites and Ugarit

  • Albright, W. F. Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan. London: Athlone Press, 1968.

  • Coogan, Michael, and Mark Smith, eds. Stories from Ancient Canaan. 2nd ed. Louisville: WJK, 2012.

  • Craigie, Peter. Ugarit and the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983.

  • Cross, F. M. Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1973.

  • Driver, G. R.. Canaanite Myths and Legends from Ugarit. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1956.

  • Gibson, John. Canaanite Myths and Legends. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1977.

  • Gordon, Cyrus. Ugaritic Textbook. Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1965.

  • Gray, John. The Canaanites. New York: Praeger, 1964.

  • Kenyon, Kathleen. Amorites and Canaanites. London: Oxford University, 1966.

  • Pardee, Dennis. Ritual and Cult at Ugarit. Writings from the Ancient World. Atlanta: SBL, 2002.

  • Patton, John. Canaanite Parallels in the Book of Psalms. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1944.

  • Schniedewind, William and Joel Hunt. A Primer on Ugaritic: Language, Culture and Literature. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

  • Yon, Marguerite. The City of Ugarit at Tell Ras Shamra. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2004.

  • Younger, K. Lawson, Jr., ed. Ugarit at Seventy-Five. Proceedings from the Symposium. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2007.


  • Annals of the Kings of Assyria. British Museum: London, 1902-.

  • Georges Contenau. Everyday Life in Babylon and Assyria. London: E. Arnold, 1959. Laessoe, Jorgen. People of Ancient Assyria. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1963.

  • Olmstead, A. T. History of Assyria. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1960.

  • Winckler, Hugo. The History of Babylonia and Assyria. New York: Scribner's Sons, 1907.