“This commentary on one of the most ethically and theologically difficult of Old Testament books is a marvel. Paul Hinlicky here continues the kind of deep, sustained engagement with biblical scholarship that we find in his critical dogmatics, demonstrating in dazzling fashion the benefits gained when theology takes biblical exegesis seriously and exegesis views itself as incomplete without theology. Reading this commentary, one feels privileged to live in this new day of exegetical and theological cross-fertilization.”—Wesley Hill, associate professor of biblical studies, Trinity School for Ministry; author of Paul and the Trinity
“This is a significant theological commentary on a notoriously difficult book of the Bible. Hinlicky acknowledges the difficulties, but he refuses to be drawn into the literalistic reading of Joshua that occupies both its critics and its defenders. Instead, Hinlicky engages in a literary-spiritual reading of Joshua that yields profound theological fruit for the life of the church. In dialogue with Jewish theology, this reading demonstrates in a compelling way that the book of Joshua proclaims the good news of ‘YHWH who fights for us.’ It also identifies this God with the crucified and risen latter-day Joshua, whom Christians claim as Lord. This commentary is a gift to all who read the Bible as Word of God.”—Kathryn Schifferdecker, professor and Elva B. Lovell Chair of Old Testament, Luther Seminary
“In his theological interpretation of the book of Joshua, Paul Hinlicky squarely confronts the dissonances and tensions in the book’s account of YHWH and Israel’s wars. Acutely aware that the apparently triumphalist account of victory and possession of the land is narrated for a people beaten by its enemies and dispossessed of its land, he develops a reading that uncovers the promissory character of the narrative by uncovering the God of Israel as its main character, jealously critical of all false promises. The canonical place of the book of Joshua in the world book of the Bible, telling the dramatic narrative of God’s relationship with God’s people from Alpha to Omega, opens a view in which eschatological glimpses of the dramatic coherence of God’s story can be found. This is a reading that in its literary-spiritual approach offers a Christian reading for which victory can persuasively be envisaged as the eschatological victory of the ‘other Joshua,’ Jesus, who is acclaimed as Christus Victor in the face of the ultimate defeat of the cross. Such a reading, self-critically disavowing all Christian supersessionism, remains in tension with coexisting Jewish readings and establishes a Christian theological interpretation that turns out to be a powerful antidote to the ideological abuse of the Bible.”—Christoph Schwoebel, professor of systematic theology, University of St. Andrews
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Dogma should clarify rather than obscures. This is the conviction of the publisher who has chosen to let this series of commentaries be based on "Christian doctrinal tradition," such as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. Creeds help unite Christians. They provide a common platform for understanding. They give us a concise explanation of our common faith in God. In a largely fragmented interpretive community, we need creeds to remind Christians that they still have many things in common. Calling it "textual ecumenism," the central premise of this commentary series is that "doctrine provides structure and cogency to scriptural interpretation." It is also hoped that the commentary will provide an additional platform for Christians and Jews to recognize their common heritage. This is not an exegetical but a theological commentary. That means focusing on the theological themes of Joshua. That means looking at Joshua from a big picture angle rather than a laser beam focus on particular verses. It means reading it with a literary lens rather than a literal interpretation. In doing so, we will be less prone to wrongful applications such as using Joshua to justify war or to support the teachings of triumphalism. Moreover, with doctrine and theology as our lens, we will avoid subjectivism that could turn readers into arrogant dogmatic interpreters. Some of the major themes in this commentary include: - How YHWH fights for Israel (and us!) - Moving from "Religious Ideology" to "Knowledge of God" - The Purpose of wars in Joshua - How God fulfills His Covenant - Troubling Realities of Sin - The foolishness of Human Wisdom My Thoughts ============== Joshua is not an easy book to interpret. Within the historical narrative lies many difficult issues for the modern mind. Issues pertaining to how a loving God could permit the mass killings; reward for trickery used; why would God order Israel to kill even the women and children; and the many instances of holy war; etc. We read about how Hinlicky justifies the act of Rahab in deceiving the Canaanite king for the Highest King. We see how the fall of Jericho can be seen through the lens of Leviticus. The wars in Joshua have greater significance spiritually than literally. He keeps us open to the interpretation of "utterly destroy" with the ancient use of "remove from human use." Understood in this manner, we have an alternative perspective instead of absolute literal renderings. Throughout the commentary, I can see how the author takes pains to allow doctrinal truth and theological themes to guide the interpretation. This is important because that helps us maintain a sense of reading Joshua as part of a bigger story instead of one individual narrative. Hunlicky reminds me that literal interpretation has limited usefulness as far as making sense of ancient contexts is concerned. We need a big picture perspective. When that happens, we can learn to link Joshua with the rest of the Bible, to use Joshua as a bridge on the punishment for sin and the restoration of God's people. Readers will also understand the problems and consequences of covenant infidelity. The story of Joshua is less about the wars and violence happening in there but about the failings of human acts and the consequences of sin. Choosing to redeem Israel out of the chaos of human failings will surely come at a cost. Underlying all the narrative of events lies a common thread: Covenant relationship with God. Obey God and Isreal will prosper. Disobedience means Israel are on her own. What is amazing about this book is not the content per se but the resilience of the author. After suffering from a stroke that rendered him unable to type, with the help of friends and family, he was able to write this commentary using voice recognition technology. Kudos to the team! The Rev. Dr. Paul R. Hinlicky is Tise Professor of Lutheran Studies at Roanoke College VA. Ordained in 1978 by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, he has pastored New River Parish Church in Blacksburg. in Virginia. He is an authority on the theology of Martin Luther and how Luther's theology played out in history since the time of the Reformation. Rating: 4.5 stars of 5. conrade This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Academic and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.