The Old Testament is a collection of writings which came into being over a period of more than a thousand years in the history of the people of Israel and which reflect the life of the people in this period. Therefore, there is a reciprocal relationship between the writings or 'books' of the Old Testament and the life of Israel in its history. This 'Introduction' attempts to take account of this reciprocal relationship. The first part deals with the history of Israel. It takes the Old Testament texts themselves as a starting point and first of all outlines the picture of historical developments and associations which the texts present. An attempt is then made, on this basis, to reconstruct historical developments by introducing material from outside the Bible. The second part attempts to present the texts collected in the Old Testament as expressions of the life of Israel. The third part discusses the books of the Old Testament in their present form.