Volume I: Historical Traditions (ISBN: 9780881411058) --- new rev. ed.
This revised edition of Paul Tarazi's The Old Testament: An Introduction, Historical Traditions takes into account twelve years of additional research. The way historical background is presented constitutes the biggest change: this book no longer includes a reconstruction of the "history of Israel." The author concludes that none of the scriptural books were intended to offer a history in the sense that we use that word today, so any efforts to construct such a history necessarily lead one astray from the original intention of the scriptural text. What the Scripture's original authors and editors did intend was to present a long ma'al - a Hebrew word that is variously translated "parable," "allegory," "proverb," or "edifying story." Therefore, the best way to understand the biblical books is to focus on the story itself.
Without imposition, Fr Tarazi presents the evidence for his exegesis and invites the reader to judge whether or not it clarifies the text. Besides effectively making sense of otherwise hard-to-understand texts, Fr Tarazi dismisses speculative discussions about matters such as if and when the exodus "actually happened" and thus leaves more room for in-depth discussions of other issues. This new edition has two completely new sections: one titled "The Rise and Formation of Scripture" and another titled "Toward the Gospel." Together they clarify the relationship between the Old and New Testaments and will help every reader understand why the New Testament cannot be understood except in the light of the Old.
Volume II: Prophetic Traditions (ISBN: 9780881411065)
The books of the Old Testament prophets abound with enigmas tending to leave the modern reader bewildered. Why did Amos claim not to be a prophet? Did Hosea really marry a harlot at God's command? Were Isaiah's famous "sign of Immanuel" and "servant poems" really Messianic prophecies? Why all the strange visions of Ezekiel, and what do they mean? Above all, what is or was a "prophet" and what was each one trying to say to his contemporaries?
Fr Paul Tarazi's distinctive treatment of the prophetic books allows him to answer all of these and other key questions in the second volume of his trilogy of Old Testament Introductions. First examining in detail Amos as a prototype of all the prophets and then focusing solely on the unique message and characteristics of each of the others, he is able to treat important issues with a depth rarely attained in an introductory work.
The second volume parallels the first in its elucidation of the various levels of tradition present in the Old Testament books it surveys. Fr Tarazi leads his reader to an understanding of the prophet as an individual and of his message as he preached it personally to his contemporaries. He shows how each subsequent layer of tradition did not obscure that message but rendered it understandable and applicable to later generations. Fr Tarazi's explanation of the process does the same for our own generation, "illuminating the lengthy and, at times, meandering path of God's 'prophetic word' over the centuries."
Volume III: Psalms and Wisdom (ISBN 9780881411072)
The psalms' importance to Christians cannot be overstated, since more of the church's services as well as private prayers are drawn from them than from any other part of scripture, yet, as Fr Paul Tarazi shows in this conclusion to his Old Testament Introduction trilogy, it is impossible to understand them merely by reading English translations.
Fr Tarazi provides the reader with essential background in the language, history, and culture of those who first wrote, used, and edited these psalms, leading to sometimes surprising new understandings of common terms such as "king," "God," "Lord," and "righteousness." Along the way, he explains how and why the psalms were used in prayer, and what we can learn about prayer itself. His discussion of Wisdom literature illuminates the very concept of "scripture," and that, in turn, leads to an in-depth explanation of how the Old Testament and the New Testament do, indeed, make up a single, unified Christian Scripture, in which the Old Testament has an essential role not inferior to the New Testament.