The Old Testament Handbook (from Lifeway) – review

Many thanks to Lifeway Christian Resources for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. Please note that this review is being simultaneously published on my other blog, which is why the watermarks on the pictures look like they come from somewhere else. I didn’t steal them; I promise!

I have to confess I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard about The Old Testament Handbook from Lifeway/Broadman & Holman. Lifeway is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and there’s been a bit of upheaval in the Convention the last few years, so I didn’t know where to expect this to land, theologically. So far, I have not been disappointed.

A Beautiful Book

The Old Testament Handbook (front cover)

First of all, this book is simply beautiful. The outside is pretty simple and unassuming — just a plain grey cover with embossed title. But it’s quality. That grey is cloth, and it covers a hardbound, sewn binding so this book will last for a long time.

The interior is full-color, glossy, and (I know I’m repeating myself) just beautiful. Each book of the Bible has its own aesthetic theme, with a photo featured on the title page and along the outer edges of the page. (This also serves to differentiate the sections as you flip through.)

The Old Testament Handbook (Genesis spread)

The Old Testament Handbook (Proverbs)

Front Matter

There really isn’t much by way of front matter. If I had any complaints about the book, this would be it. It lists the books (and an introductory section about the Bible in general, and “sources” at the end), but there’s no list of the resources within each section. You just have to flip to them to see. For the most part, this is not a big deal, but it would have been nice to be able to quickly identify the page number for a resource you already know is there – or to cross-reference in instances where the content is relevant to more than one location in Scripture.

Book by Book

The Old Testament Handbook (book introduction subcategories)For the most part, there’s one section per book. In a few instances, books are combined: 1 & 2 Kings are a section — the same with 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Chronicles. Ezra and Nehemiah are paired, and all of the minor prophets are a single section. Each of the other books is a standalone.

Within each section, there are some constants.

Each section begins with an introduction that tells about the author, background, message and purpose, and structure of the book, and also provides a summary. This is followed by an outline, and a word study of 1-4 (usually 3) Hebrew words that are significant in that book.

The Old Testament Handbook (book outline)

The Old Testament Handbook (word study example)

The rest of the contents vary. Many of the books include a timeline.

The Old Testament Handbook (Ez-Dan timeline example)

Others contain maps.

The Old Testament Handbook (Exodus map example)

Many contain various comparative charts that help provide a quick overview of information within a book, or to compare its content with other Old Testament books or demonstrate how it points to the New Testament and Jesus.

The Old Testament Handbook (comparison chart example)

The Old Testament Handbook (chart example)

It’s hard to be any more specific than that without just listing everything. The maps, charts, etc. depend on what makes sense for the content of each individual book, so they vary considerably. We have everything from Abraham’s family tree to a diagram of the tabernacle to giants in the Bible to “seeing Jesus in the divided kingdom.”

Sprinkled throughout are full-page “key verses” (Scripture) and “key quotes” (theologians’ words).

As you may have noticed if you were paying close attention to the photos, the Bible translation used throughout this book is the Christian Standard Bible.

Given how pleased I was with the overall content of The Old Testament Handbook, I was also excited to see this slipped over the back:

promo for the upcoming New Testament Handbook



The publisher is giving one of you readers a $10 Amazon gift card. (You can use it toward your own copy of The Old Testament Handbook. 😉 )

The giveaway is now over. Congratulations to Amy F.!


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The Old Testament Handbook (review)

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