The Joshua Delusion? Rethinking Genocide in the Bible

The book of Joshua is one of the most polemic books within the Bible considering its violence tone that explains the “genocide” of the Canaanites in order to conquest the promised land of Canaan.

Douglas S. Earl’s new book, The Joshua Delusion? Rethinking Genocide in the Bible, due to release this July, argues that we have mistakenly read Joshua as a straightforward historical account and have ended up with a genocide God. In contrast, Earl offers a theological interpretation in which the mass killing of Canaanites is a deliberate use of myth to make important theological points that are still valid today.

“The book of Joshua is hagiographic in nature, which means that its intention was not to recount literal history so much as to make a moral point using the literary devices of warfare literature in order to encourage a certain type of orthodox religious behaviour among the faith community who gathers to hear the book as sacred scripture.”                                                                                     – By Thom Stark, author of The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (and Why Inerrancy Tries To Hide It).

The author surveys the origins of the problems that the book of Joshua has raised for Christians, and the roots of possible ways of reading it that might point to a different way of understanding the book.

“I am delighted, therefore, to commend this book as a model of how to approach difficulties in Scripture. Douglas Earl offers a way of thinking about Joshua that will be surprising and challenging to many. Yet, whether or not his thesis fully persuades, the way in which he approaches the text will surely appeal to all thoughtful Christians; for Earl is simultaneously radical, in that he utilizes fresh resources and challenges common ways of thinking about Joshua, and traditional, in that he reconnects with certain ancient and existentially fruitful Christian ways of handling the text”.                                    – Walter Moberly from the Foreword.

About the author: Douglas Earl did his PhD on the book of Joshua at the University of Durham. He is the author of Reading Joshua as Christian Scripture.

 

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