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Publisher's Summary

The Old Testament is a fierce battleground for atheists and Christian apologists, with each side accusing the other of taking challenging and troubling passages out of context. In this handbook, Joshua Bowen not only provides the background to the Old Testament and the ancient Near East, but engages with hotly contested topics like slavery, failed prophecy, and the authorship of debated Old Testament books. 

This book provides: 

  • clear and straightforward explanations to complex topics 
  • direct engagement with hot-button Old Testament issues 
  • specific arguments to help you in a debate or discussion

Whether you are looking to debate problematic Old Testament issues on social media or have a relaxed, meaningful discussion with a family member over coffee, The Atheist Handbook to the Old Testament is an indispensable resource for you.

©2021 Joshua Aaron Bowen (P)2021 Joshua Aaron Bowen

Critic Reviews

"Exhibiting an enviable depth of knowledge across a wide range of texts and topics – and with more than a dollop of humor spread throughout – Bowen has written a useful and much-needed overview to some of the most significant topics in the study of the Hebrew Bible. You don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, and you shouldn’t go into a debate about the Bible without your copy of this book handy." (Dr. Joel Baden, Professor of Hebrew Bible, Yale Divinity School)  

"This is more than a book about the Hebrew Bible. And it’s more than a book for atheists. It’s a masterclass in how to read and understand the Hebrew Bible on its own terms - and not those imposed by modern-day believers. An Atheist’s Handbook to the Old Testament digs down deep into those biblical texts so often used by fundamentalist Christians to render the Hebrew Bible a prophetic guidebook to their God - and turns their own arguments on their head. This book is essential reading for anyone who’d like the tools to excavate the Hebrew Bible for themselves with precision, skill and intellectual integrity." (Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion, University of Exeter)   

"Bowen's book reminds us that the Hebrew Bible is not precise, and the evidence is overwhelming that it wasn't written by Moses. This assembled compilation of works from unknown authors, editors and redactors promotes barbaric cruelty, and it contains failed prophecies and irreconcilable contradictions, such that a literal interpretation of all of it is untenable." (Aron Ra, Host of the Ra-Men Podcast, Board of Directors for American Atheists)

What listeners say about The Atheist Handbook to the Old Testament, Volume 1

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Great resource for athiests....

...and anyone else who gets tired of bible literalists proclaiming the infallibility of their book and the"Word" there in. I had a general idea of all the typical anti-apologetics currently used in modern epistemological and theological debates, but now I have someplace to look up the details to support the arguments.

Seth Andrews is a great pick for narrator, too. He has the smooth relaxing tone and cadence of an soft rock FM d.j. as well as an understanding of the subject matter not commonly found in a narrator.

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Very informative with beautiful narration

This is one of the most informative and well researched books I’ve listened to in a long while. The narrator has a beautiful calming voice which is an icing on the cake.
Anyone who wants to learn about the Old Testament needs to listen — no matter what their beliefs are — theistic or atheistic.

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A great listen! Deep content, suberb narration.

Dr. Josh brings a wide view of the historical context of the first half of the old testament. A refreshing step towards understanding the Bible as what it is. What is Holy to some is wholly engrossing to others.
I eagerly await part 2!

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Fascinating history!

I loved hearing the book before I go back to read through Joshua Bowen's book!

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The Good Book

There was a lot of content but Seth Andrews' narration made it easy. I love history, and I really enjoy biblical related topics, so this was a perfect combination for me. The book is worth the money, and the price is not all that much to start with. My recommendation, get the book

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Great for anyone

Though the book is aimed at atheists, I think anyone would benefit from this look at the Old Testament. It gives an intriguing look at the historical context around the stories found in the Old Testament. Highly recommend!

The narrator was great, too!

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A historically credible analysis made accessible

I just finished my first read through of The Atheist's Handbook to the OT and just wanted to let you that it's a great piece of writing and scholarship IMHO. As a historian and archaeologist, I did subject it to a fair amount of review/citation checking and found it to a rather solid treatment on a variety of related subjects. Dr. Bowen's writing is both authoritative and approachable while simultaneously remaining intelligently colloquial. Which I must say is a rather noteworthy accomplishment given the subject matter. Josh and Megan have something to be very proud of here. - Pat Lowinger

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Fantastic all around, on my third read

Dr. Josh does a great job putting things into perspective and educating how we know what we know, as well as how we know what we don't know. I come from a apocalypse fundamental household so the section on Ezekiel and Daniel was fascinating. Can't wait for book 2. Seth as always with a great narration!

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Computer reading this?

The inflection of the reader is so unrelated to the context that it is either a computer reading this or the reader has no comprehension of the sentence by sentence meaning. This makes it quite bizarre to listen to

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Superb

Dr. Josh never ceases to amaze me with his vast, well researched knowledge and excellent ability to clearly articulate this content to a lay person such as myself. I have the hard copy of this book and immediately purchased the audiobook after learning it was narrated by Seth Andrews. I could listen to Seth all day long! Well done. Highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-18-21

Balanced and informative

Dr Joshua Bowen here provides an excellent overview of the Old Testament and despite the name I think Christians would benefit from this book just as much (though may find it deeply challenging)

Highlights for me were the detailed but very understandable explanation of ancient Near Eastern history - a topic I had never explored in much depth formerly as a Christian but which provide essential context to understanding the text.

The slavery chapter stands out most though. far from an aggressive polemic Dr Josh sets out a factual compelling argument: We should not compare the ‘acts’ of the Transatlantic Slave Trade with the ‘laws’ of the Old Testament. We must compare like for like, law with law. When we do there are very similar patterns of legal rationale. The argument shows just how indefensible it is to defend the bible’s view on slavery.

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  • Njeri Wa Seruwagi
  • 10-26-21

I have enjoyed listening to this audio book

Seth Andrews has done a great narration. And Dr. Bowen presents very detailed research on the topic. I look forward to volume 2. In the meantime, I will keep replaying the audio. Lol.

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  • Ken
  • 10-20-21

Can't wait for the sequel.

This book is tremendously well researched. It could not be possible for apologists to complain that the author 'only took a cursory glance' or 'failed to examine in context' the issues he covers.

It is incredibly comprehensive in my opinion, and while you could not possibly remember everything, it is put together in such a way that particular points are relatively easy to find.
It's books like these, utter slam dunks, in my opinion that demonstrate that the you can choose to believe Christianity and it's bible are true, but you certainly couldn't hope to prove it to anyone who is more interested in truth over comfortable lies.

Seth Andrews, as always does a fantastic job.
Totally worth the money, and I really hope to see further work from this author.

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  • AHP
  • 09-17-21

Great book if you like details

Although the information in this book is illuminating, there are parts of it that are really repetitive. At times the author repeats arguments to the point of 'flogging a dead horse'. This is definitely a book for the more academically inclined. I found the book hard to listen to in some parts (especially the genealogies and history of the Assyrian empire). I listened to the audiobook. It probably reads better than it sounds.
That said though, if you can muscle through the boring bits, the arguments and background discussions are thorough and sound.. For that, I give it a 4/5 rating.