Professor John Goldingay, former principal of St John’s Nottingham and former professor of Old Testament at Fuller Seminary, California, gave a public lecture on August 17  on ‘Reading Joshua’ for the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.

He asked: ” What was the book of Joshua for? If you were an ordinary Israelite, the Book of Joshua might answer two questions for you. One is, how did we come to be here in this country, how did it come to be ours? The other is, how did the different clans (they’re more clans than tribes) come to live where they do? Suppose you were someone from Naphtali, a fisherman on Lake Galilee—how did this come to be your clan’s area? The two halves of Joshua answer those two questions: first, how God enabled the Israelites to take control of Canaan under Joshua, and the second, how Joshua and Eleazar distributed this beautiful land among the clans. Both halves tell a story that Israel told and retold over the centuries.” The book actually gives two levels of answer to those questions. One is, “God directed us to come here and made it possible and told us how to divide the land up.” The other is, “We came here by the same sort of process as other people come to live where they do, and we divided it up the same way as other people do, by drawing lots.”

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