Most of the information on this blog has been garnered from the resources below.  They are extremely useful if you want more information on topics, or if you are exploring these areas on your own. 

Biblical Criticism

My top recommendation for an overview of current biblical criticism is How to Read the Bible by James Kugel.  Kugel, who is an Orthodox Jew (of the Modern Orthodox variety) gives a fairly honest overview of the current state of academic theories on the composition of the Torah and other books of Tanach.  He also contrasts the academic approach with the traditional explanations, which will be very familiar to anyone who grew up with an Orthodox day school education.

For an modern defense of the traditional JEPD theory on the composition of the Torah, the best source is probably Richard Friedman.  Two books are useful here, Who Wrote the Bible is a bit old, but a lot of the arguments are still very sound.  The Bible with Sources Revealed is the text of the Torah (translated into English) with different font styles depending on which source is thought to have written it.  A word of caution on the second book.  I've found some very questionable translations for the text, so you should probably not rely on his translation.

On the other hand, for a criticism of the Documentary Hypothesis, I'd recommend The Making of the Pentateuch by Whybray (hopefully you can find it in a library.)  While being about the same age as Friedman's work means that it's a bit dated, it gives a good explanation of the various problems with the Documentary Hypothesis.  It's always good to read arguments for and against a position.

It's also useful to get knowledge about other cultures nearby and their views on divinity and monotheism.  For this, I'll go with Mark Smith's work, of which there are two: The Origins of Biblical Montheism and The Early History of God.  The first book especially is written in very technical language and might be difficult if you're somewhat unfamiliar.  Kugel will give you enough information though, if you read that first.

History of Israel

This is a pretty contentious area, but on certain topics there's a lot of agreement and on others theirs dispute.  To see where these areas are, I'd recommend Biblical History and Israel's Past by Moore and Kelle.  It doesn't go into any great depth on one topical area, but it's a very good reference for who's arguing for what and why.

A historical overview of Israel is written by Liverani in the redundantly titled Israel's History and the History of Israel.  I've heard good things about Grabbe also, but I haven't managed to get my hands on a copy of him.

A good book for the layman on archaeological history is The Bible Unearthed by Finkelstein and Silberman.  Although they are pretty much mainline for everything up to the monarchial period, there they introduce the "low chronology" without mentioning alternatives.  The book by Moore and Kelle above can help see where they start overstating their claims.  The counter-argument to them is best given by Dever and more recently Mazar, and while I've read several technical papers by them, I haven't yet found a good book for the layman.

I'll also plug the following online video series from the Exodus conference.  It includes talks by almost all of the above names.

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