The Old Testament was written for us, but not to us. We will fully grasp its theology only when we are immersed in the ancient cultural river of Israel and the broader cultural river of the ancient Near East.

In Old Testament Theology for Christians, John Walton invites us to leave our modern (and even many of our Christian) preconceptions at the threshold as we enter the world of the Old Testament. He challenges us to see it anew—as if for the first time—as guests in a strange and foreign land. 

Walton offers a theology of the Old Testament that is consistently guided by what the ancient authors intended as they wrote within their cognitive environment. As we engage with their world, questions arise:

  • Why was the law given to Israel and how should we view it today?
  • How does the Old Testament understand sin and salvation?
  • Did God command Israel to commit genocide?
  • What was the role of the temple and its sacrifices in God’s covenant with Israel?
  • Is there an integrating and central theme of Old Testament theology?
  • What did God require of Israel and how does that apply to Christians today?
  • Should we look to the Old Testament for solutions to twenty-first century issues?
  • How should we read the Old Testament in light of Christ?

In this capstone to a career of studying and teaching the Old Testament, Walton’s answers take unexpected turns. Viewed within its ancient Near Eastern cognitive environment, the text blossoms into fresh and challenging insights. No matter how you are accustomed to approaching the Old Testament, Old Testament Theology for Christians will challenge and sharpen your perceptions.

"John Walton is one of the leading Old Testament scholars of our generation. I am always informed and stimulated in my own thinking whenever I read his work. He is rightly sensitive to the ancient context of the Old Testament as he pursues its continuing significance for our lives as Christians. Old Testament Theology for Christians presents his most wide-ranging analysis yet. I recommend this book enthusiastically to all who want to think seriously about the Old Testament."

Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College


1. Introduction and Foundations
2. God and the Gods
3. Cosmos and Humanity
4. Covenant and Kingdom
5. Temple and Torah
6. Sin and Evil
7. Salvation and Afterlife
8. Conclusions
Author Index
Scripture Index


John H. Walton (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School. Previously he was professor of Old Testament at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for twenty years.

Some of Walton's books include The Lost World of Adam and Eve, The Lost World of Scripture, The Lost World of Genesis One, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, The Essential Bible Companion, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, and The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (with Victor Matthews and Mark Chavalas).

Walton's ministry experience includes church classes for all age groups, high school Bible studies, and adult Sunday school classes, as well as serving as a teacher for "The Bible in 90 Days." John and his wife, Kim, live in Wheaton, Illinois, and have three adult children.

Watch a four-part video series from Walton.

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