Recently New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman was asked for recommendations on the construction of the Hebrew Bible. He recommends a number of books.
First, some bibliography. There are a number of college-level textbooks for those interested in the field (one doesn’t have to be in college to read them! Among other things they have the advantage of providing bibliography of suggested readings for those who want to go deeper). My two favorites are John J. Collins, Introduction fo the Hebrew Bible and Michael Coogan, The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures.
For those who want something other than a textbook, at a somewhat deeper level, two of the best recent books out there are Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed, and James Kugel, How To Read the Bible.
But for someone who knows almost nothing about the field and wants a good, clear introduction to biblical criticism on the Torah (i.e. the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Hebrew Bible), the very best thing, in my opinion, is Richard Elliott Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible?
I think if you are going to start anywhere it is with Friedman’s Who Wrote the Bible? It is relatively fast-paced and an incredibly easy read considering all the information he packs into the volume.
This post by Ehrman was a “blast from the past” as he calls it and his one volume overview of the Bible has been out for a little while. It is a pretty good introduction and one that I recommend readers purchase and peruse.
Featured image: By Jaroslav A. Polák – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39691823