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The Epic of Eden: Understanding the Old Testament

old testament bible studyLet’s be honest: It’s just easier to study New Testament. The pre-Jesus part of the Bible can seem so convoluted with lineages, stories, and laws that Jesus came to abolish. In fact, most of what we know about the Old Testament can feel like a grab bag of people, books, events, and ideas, and usually, it’s hard for us make sense of it and see how it connects to God’s bigger story at all.

In Epic of Eden, Dr. Sandra Richter jumps headlong into the Old Testament to clearly and powerfully communicate a history of God’s redeeming grace, weaving together a story that runs from the Eden of the Garden to the garden of the New Jerusalem.

Through text and video teaching, Dr. Richter uses this 12-week Old Testament Bible study to bring a new dimension to the history of the ancient Near East, orienting any study group in time, geography, culture, redemption, and relevance to today — all without diminishing her reader’s faith or “dumbing down” the scripture.

The Epic of Eden: Isaiah

Epic Isaiah cvrOften named “the fifth gospel,” the book of the prophet Isaiah has more to say about Israel’s coming Messiah than any other Old Testament book. Brilliant, courageous, uncompromising, this prophet declared that “the year of the LORD” had come and God’s people needed to either step up, or stand down. Indeed, when Isaiah spoke, kings trembled.

But too often, when Isaiah speaks today, God’s people have trouble hearing. Why? We often miss the larger context. In The Epic of Eden: Isaiah, Dr. Sandra Richter takes participants back to the eighth century BCE. This eight-week study explains Israel’s religion and economy, explores the definition and role of the prophets, and helps us to apply the message of this great champion of the faith to our lives today.

The Epic of Eden study series is ideal for serious church groups wanting a meaty study of biblical text, as well as anyone eager for a strategic grasp of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Old Testament and how it relates to God’s activity in the present.

How does this series work? Both The Epic of Eden and The Epic of Eden: Isaiah involve two components. The first is a set of filmed, approximately 20-30-minute, sessions with Dr. Sandra Richter (available as a DVD or through streaming over the internet), and the second is a study guide for each of your group members. This workbook includes five individual studies per week, to be done at home. The idea is that each member will be working at home at their own pace, doing as much or as little as schedules permit. Once per week your group will gather to view the filmed study, talk about the individual work from the week, and focus on some group discussion questions.

About Sandra Richter

Sandra RichterAs a professor there is nothing I am more interested in than making the real people who lived in the real space and time of the OT come alive for my students. As a result, those who study the great narrative of God and his people with me can expect a substantial dose of the history, archaeology, geography, and languages of the ancient Near East.

I am a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Harvard University. My professional background includes nine years as a professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, four at Wesley Biblical Seminary, and several years at Gordon-Conwell and Gordon College. Due to my passion for “real space and time,” at both Asbury and Wesley I designed an Israel Studies program, over the years bringing dozens of students to Israel to study historical geography and field archaeology. Prior to my years as an academic, I served in professional ministry. I am deeply committed to the health of the Church, and speak and teach often at events dedicated to the education and discipleship of the laity.

My publishing endeavors have alternated between pieces written for the Academy and pieces written for the laity. Deuteronomy, the Deuteronomistic History, and Biblical Theology are particular foci for me. I am currently working on a commentary on Deuteronomy for Eerdman’s Two Horizons series, and an undergraduate introduction to the Bible with Ben Witherington for Oxford University Press. A DVD-based lay curriculum designed around The Epic of Eden(InterVarsity Press) is due out within the year. I’ve also written and spoken frequently on the interface between environmentalism and biblical theology. I am in the process of designing a cross-disciplinary course for undergraduates on the topic with my colleagues in the Biology department.

View Dr. Richter’s Seven Minute Seminaries on


The Brave Reviews: The Epic of Eden by Sandra Richter


“This was the best study I have ever done on the Old Testament. Narrowing the history into three geographical areas and five main characters around which to tie the events made it much easier to understand and see the big picture. Learning about God’s promises and His covenants with His children helped me understand how much God loves us; how He extended that grace and mercy to us through His son.”

“I enjoyed this study because it helped me to see so clearly how the Old Testament ties to the new, predicting the coming of Jesus and how it is all part of God’s plan. Seeing that so clearly also helps me to feel and trust that God is in control of everything! This is very reassuring to me!”

“The Epic of Eden has been eye opening, heart pounding, tear producing—and I’m only halfway through!”

“We’ll be offering this bible study the first of the year! Reviews are quite positive with people saying it’s the best Old Testament study they’ve ever taken.”

“I previewed this Bible study. It is one of the very best I have ever seen!”

“Our group is almost halfway through it. Our pastor had her for a teacher. You will never look at the Bible the same way again. And yes the Old and New Testaments are tied together. Can’t have one without the other.”

“Some really good stuff here.”

“Dr Richter does such an excellent job! You will certainly appreciate this work!”

“We are in the third week. It requires dedicated participation, but it is powerful and includes all the things that made her OT class powerful. It is totally accessible to learners at all levels of Biblical experience and effective at all levels of Biblical experience. Those who are lifelong biblical students are saying that this study ‘fills in the gaps’ about how the parts of the Bible connect.”

“We just finished Session 8. We are having 25 adults show up each week. They are LOVING this study, and I am loving seeing these adults begin to make sense of the OT and God’s Redemptive Story.”

“When I recommend one book about the OT to others, it is Richter’s The Epic of Eden. Can’t wait to listen to this new expanded study!”

“Our group is on week 4 and absolutely loves the depth of this study and how it is forming their understanding of our Biblical story!”

“We are doing the study now. We are having record attendance for this study.”

“We’re doing the study now, with several folks who are pretty savvy about the Bible. It’s still an eye-opener, and you can hear the connections clicking as we speak. GREAT study.”

“The consensus among both my small groups is that Epic Of Eden is the best study leading to the most interesting conversations that we’ve ever had. These groups have done all the short term Disciples (which we like) as well other sort of standard fare evangelical stuff. So we appreciate it. You are doing something right and we look forward to more.”

“I wanted to let you know how thoroughly we have enjoyed “The Epic of Eden.” It has been stimulating both intellectually and spiritually and has been very well received by our people. It is, I think, as fine of a DVD series as I’ve seen.”

“My men’s group is using your ‘The Epic of Eden’ video for our Bible study. After watching nine episodes, I couldn’t wait until the end to tell you how much I have enjoyed this series. To a man we are all enthralled by these lessons. You are a very gifted educator and have a wonderful way of bringing the Old Testament to life and, most importantly tying it into the New Testament. Your passion for Jesus shines through every lesson. I am sure you have been told many times that you are a superlative speaker and educator, but I figure it never hurts one to hear this sort of thing again. So I am lending my voice to those who sing your praise. Your work is of eternal worth.”