Minor Thoughts on the Book of Joshua
The foreword written afterward
About two weeks ago, the inexplicable bug bit me to write a daily commentary on the Book of Judges. I wanted it to have a conversational tone, with its tongue often straining at its cheek, and I wanted it to largely eschew the "spiritual metaphors" and "hidden meanings" that pastors, priests, and rabbis see in it in favor of discussing... well, what interests me: its influences and sources, its composition, its historicity. Everything that most people can spend their entire life faithfully attending church every Sunday without once hearing mentioned, but which scholars have enjoyed discussing for over a hundred years.
Below's what happened. It's not by any means exhaustive; in fact, it's intentionally the opposite, a light skip along Joshua's pages rather than a labored dissection of the ancient work. It's also certainly not authoritative. I've never attended seminary, nor was I even a Religion major in college; my knowledge of Biblical criticism comes from a few courses I took in college as electives and the reading I've done for pleasure since. And even if I was formally trained, the fact is that Biblical criticism is a field in which everyone does the best they can with the clues available, a lot of which are circumstantial. My college professor often concluded a discussion of a particular item in the Scriptures by saying, "I only know two things for sure: I don't know and you don't know."
That's not always true, of course. There are some things I think serious students of the Bible can now declare in total confidence - for instance, that Joshua's campaign as described in the Bible just doesn't match the archaeological evidence we have. But views such as mine on the origin of the Levites are easily debatable with DNA evidence and simply good questions, such as my wife's, who just asked me why Levi's featured in stories like Genesis 34 if he never really existed.
With those caveats outta the way, here's hoping you find something worthwhile in the study. I did. It's just as they say: "The best way to learn is to teach."
The Commentary Index
Joshua 22-24 - About the altar of Gilead.
Joshua 21 - The secret origin of the Levites.
Joshua 20 - On the six cities of refuge.
Joshua 12-19 - How the twelve tribes truly came into possession of Canaan.
Joshua 11 - The Anakim and other tall tales.
Joshua 10 - Joshua's greatest hit.
Joshua 9 - Anti-Gibeonite propaganda.
Joshua 7-8 - Why knowing God's will for your life may be easier than you think.
Joshua 5-6 - On the fall of Jericho.
Joshua 2-4 - Why Rahab deserves a better rep and how important God's parting the waters really is.
Joshua 1 - On the authorship of the Book of Joshua and Joshua's possible secret heritage.