I have a Christmas list, for a not-quite-teenager, with a gap that needs to be filled.The middle schooler in question has read the Book of Mormon on his own from front to back, and from back to front, and was recently observed working his way through Genesis. At home and church, he displays an admirable degree of age-appropriate devotion, and reports from his school teachers are glowing. He enjoys reading, including non-fiction, and could probably read something fairly challenging if it appealed enough to him.
So I’m looking for a companion book for his scripture reading that will provide some additional context, and hopefully introduce him to the sweet enticements of footnotes and quotations from unpublished documents written in dead languages. I’m open to suggestions in any area of possible interest, but the book needs to manage a difficult split between being informed by (or an example of) current scholarship, respecting religious devotion, and having reasonably accessible prose (the middle schooler only speaks one foreign language, and his preparation in Greek, Latin, Hebrew and other Semitic languages is woefully inadequate, as I keep reminding him). If Hugh Nibley were still alive, and had just earned a Ph.D., and had just published a guide to the Old Testament for seminary students, that would be perfect. What’s the next best thing?