Dr. Creasy's Suggested Reading for the Bible (A General Bibliography)

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Many people find recommended reading lists helpful for further, in-depth Bible study. Here Dr. Creasy offers a list of books that he has found useful in his own study, books that are all in his personal library. This is only a start. Studying the Scripture takes a lifetime, and the books that will help you are endless. The books listed below are for general study of Scripture.

Primary Texts

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia

This is the standard critical edition of the Hebrew (Old Testament) Scriptures, the revised edition of Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica.  It uses the Leningrad Codex B19a, the oldest dated manuscript of the complete Hebrew Bible, as its base text; this is the Masoretic text, dated A.D. 1008 or 1009.  It is entirely in Hebrew, and it includes textual variants; it also has an excellent introduction in German, English, French and Latin. 

The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament

Editor, John R. Kohlenberger III

For those who don’t read Hebrew, this interlinear Bible prints the Hebrew text of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and directly beneath each Hebrew word a grammatically literal English translation.  The right-hand side of each page carries the NIV English translation for comparison.  This is an excellent work, well worth having for the serious student.

The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English

Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton

The Septuagint (usually referred to as the LXX, a reference to the seventy Jewish scholars who translated it at the command of Ptolemy Philadelphus for the Alexandrian Library, according to the “Letter of Aristeas”) is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, done sometime around 250 B.C. at Alexandria, Egypt.  The Apocrypha are the books written during the intertestamental period, roughly 430 B.C. (after the last of the writing prophets, Malachi) through A.D. 49 (before Paul’s letters, the earliest of the New Testament writings).


The Septuagint became the Bible for many—if not most—Jews outside Palestine who, after the conquest by Alexander the Great during 334-323 B.C., no longer spoke Hebrew.  It is enormously important, for it made the Hebrew Scriptures available not only to non-Hebrew speaking Jews, but to the entire Greek-speaking world.  It is the Scriptures that Jesus and most of the New Testament writers knew.  Jewish scholars established the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures at the Council of Jamnia around A.D. 90; it included only those 39 books written in Hebrew before 430 B.C.  This is the canon accepted today by Jews and Protestants.  The early Christian church accepted the books of the Septuagint, including the Apocrypha.  St. Jerome translated them into Latin between A.D. 386 and 405, and this, along with the 27 New Testament books, is the Latin Vulgate, the traditional Bible of Christendom until the Reformation.  During the Reformation the reformers chose to follow the Hebrew canon for the Old Testament, while Rome, at the Council of Trent (1545), affirmed the traditional Christian canon, the books of the Septuagint.  Vatican I (1869-1870) reaffirmed the Roman Catholic decision, as did Vatican II during the 1960s.


For those interested in the Latin Vulgate, there is a critical edition: Biblia Sacra, iuxta vulgatam versionem, 2 vols. (Stuttgart:  Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1983). Any Douay-Rheims edition of the Bible offers a literal English translation.

Greek Scriptures (New Testament)

Novum Testamentum Graeca, 28th edition

Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle (continued by Kurt Aland, et al.)

Commonly referred to as the “Nestle-Aland 27th edition,” this is the standard critical edition of the Greek New Testament.  It includes an extensive textual apparatus, noting all substantive textual variants in approximately 5,000 manuscripts.  

The Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English

Like its Hebrew counterpart, this work offers the Greek New Testament with a grammatically literal English translation beneath each Greek word.  For comparison, it also prints the King James and NIV translations on left-hand, facing pages.

Reference Works

The Cambridge History of the Bible

eds. P.R. Ackroyd and C.F. Evans

The Text of the Old Testament

Ernst Würthwein (trans. Erroll F. Rhodes)

First written in 1952 as an introduction to Kittel’s Biblia Hebrica, this standard work on the text of the Hebrew Scriptures has been thoroughly revised to account for the changes and revisions in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.  It discusses how the Old Testament came to be written, the manuscripts, and the problems involved in producing a critical edition of the text.

The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism

Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland (trans. Erroll F. Rhodes)

This work, written by true experts in the field, offers the best introduction to the text of the New Testament.  It is somewhat technical, but well worth studying for those interested in the complexities of determining just what the text of the New Testament is, and how it has been transmitted over the centuries.

The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration

Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman

This thoroughly revised edition of Bruce M. Metzger's classic work is the most up-to-date manual available for the textual criticism of the New Testament. The Text of the New Testament, Fourth Edition, has been invigorated by the addition of Bart D. Ehrman--author of numerous best-selling books on the New Testament—as a coauthor. This revision brings the discussion of such important matters as the early Greek manuscripts and methods of textual criticism up to date, integrating recent research findings and approaches into the body of the text (as opposed to previous revisions, which compiled new material and notes into appendices). The authors also examine new areas of interest, including the use of computers in the collection and evaluation of manuscript evidence and the effects that social and ideological influences had upon the work of scribes. The standard text for courses in biblical studies and the history of Christianity since its first publication in 1964, The Text of the New Testament is poised to become a definitive resource for a whole new generation of students.

The Canon of Scripture

F.F. Bruce

This is the best study of the canon—the books included in the Bible.  It explores how and why the Bible includes the books that it does.  Although a scholarly work, it is very readable, as are all of Bruce’s works.

Historical Background

A History of Israel

John Bright

This is probably the best single-volume history of Israel from the beginnings to the end of the Old Testament period.  It draws on solid scholarship and is very readable.

The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ

Emil Schürer

A monumental work of German scholarship, these volumes present an in-depth view of Jewish life and culture between 175 B.C. and A.D. 135.  First published between 1885 and 1891, this new edition is thoroughly revised and updated.  It is far and away the best work of its kind.  Reading the five volumes from beginning to end gives a deep understanding of the time, place and people that Jesus knew.  

Jewish Antiquities 

Flavius Josephus

An important primary historical source, Josephus’ Antiquities was completed c. A.D. 93-94. Josephus was a Jew who lived c. A.D. 37-100.  This is one of those works often referred to, but seldom read.  It is well worth the time.

Commentaries and Reference Works

Introduction to the Old Testament, with a comprehensive review of Old Testament studies and a special supplement on the Apocrypha

R.K. Harrison


Introduction to the New Testament

W.G. Kümmel and Howard Clark Kee (trans.)  

This is a classic introduction to the New Testament, thoroughly updated.  It has been used for generations as the standard of critical scholarship.

Introduction to the New Testament:  History, Culture and Religion of the Hellenistic Age, Vol. 1

Helmut Koester


Introduction to the New Testament: History and Literature of Early Christianity, Vol. 2

Helmut Koester

These two volumes offer a solid introduction to the New Testament.  Koester, a Harvard Professor of international stature, presents both literary and historical background, much of which is difficult to find elsewhere.

The JPS Torah Commentary (Genesis)


The JPS Torah Commentary (Exodus)


The JPS Torah Commentary (Numbers)


The JPS Torah Commentary  (Deuteronomy) 


The JPS Torah Commentary (Leviticus)


The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

Frank E. Gæbelein, general editor

This is an extensive work written to be used with the NIV Study Bible.  It presents a verse-by-verse commentary using the NIV translation, and it expands upon the NIV Study Bible’s notes.  

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible

Matthew Henry

Literary Studies

The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading

Meir Sternberg

The best work on biblical narrative. It is a classic. Sternberg not only explores the Hebrew Scriptures with great sensitivity and insight, but he also develops an entire theory of poetics, as it applies to biblical texts.

The Art of Biblical Narrative

Robert Alter

A pioneering work in the study of biblical narrative, Alter’s book is not as encompassing as Sternberg’s, but it lays an excellent foundation for a literary reading of the Bible.

The Art of Biblical Poetry

Robert Alter

The World of Biblical Literature

Robert Alter

Unlike Alter’s two previous works which focus on the narrative and poetical aspects of biblical literature, this study examines the larger issue of literary imagination as it applies to religious texts. More theoretical than his earlier work, in this study Alter continues to offer brilliant readings of traditional biblical stories.

The Great Code: The Bible and Literature

Northrop Frye

In this book, Northrop Frye examines the Bible from a literary critic’s point of view.  Acknowledging that the Bible is a collection of texts developed over a period of fifteen hundred years by many different authors, Frye insists that the Bible has traditionally been read as a unity, and that it has influenced Western imagination as a unity.  It has a beginning, middle and end, and it has a body of consistent, concrete images.  As such, the Bible’s unifying principle is one of narrative shape.  This is a foundational study for anyone approaching the Bible from a literary perspective.

Words with Power, Being a Second Study of “The Bible and Literature”

Northrop Frye

Part two of Frye’s great work on the Bible, this study revisits some of his earlier critical theories in The Great Code, and it focuses upon the Bible’s connection with literary tradition and the verbal structures of myth, folklore and legend.  

Toward a Grammar of Biblical Poetics, Tales of the Prophets

Herbert Chanan Brichto

The Idea of Biblical Poetry: Parallelism and Its History

James L. Kugel

This book offers an in-depth study of the structure of Hebrew poetry, focusing on its chief characteristic: parallelism. It not only presents very close readings of some of the Bible’s poetry, but it also discusses the history of its interpretation. A reviewer in the Jerusalem Post noted: “I cannot conceive that anyone who reads this study will ever read the Bible in the same fashion as before.” This is an excellent book, but rather technical:  read Alter first.

The Writings of the New Testament, an Interpretation

Luke T. Johnson