Joshua & the conquest of Canaan: what’s history, what’s legend, what’s unknown?

I don’t know about you, but when I read the Old Testament accounts of Joshua and the Israelites invading Canaan, I don’t have any picture of the geography or where the cities were located.

The matter is complicated by the fact that many people feel a lot is at stake. Believers generally want to find support for the Bible, and some unbelievers want to undermine it. Some Jews and Palestinians want to support their rival claims for the land.

So when I read the opinions of historians and archaeologists on whether these events were historical or legendary, I have little on which to base a judgment. I don’t think it’s the most important thing in the world, but it has been interesting to try to ferret out the truth, to read all sides of the question and try to come to an honest and true conclusion.

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Does archaeology show the Bible is true? Seven facts

I’m sure you will have read, and heard it said, that archaeology confirms the accuracy of the Bible. But you may also have heard from sceptics that the Bible isn’t historically accurate. So which is true?

This is a complex matter with a wide variety of conclusions among the experts. I have tried to investigate as impartially as I can, and it seems that both views are true (sometimes) …. and false (sometimes).

Here are seven statements I think can be known to be true.

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Myths, legends, history and truth

Chaos Monster and Sun God

In my last three posts (plus an earlier post) I have looked at ways that we may see that biological evolution points to God as the creator, perhaps in ways that many would find unexpected.

In all of these ways, I believe science shows that evolution alone is unlikely to lead to the outcomes we actually see, suggesting that God has used evolution to create something more than a smart animal.

So now I want to look at how we may best understand Genesis in the light of evolution.

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Who were the first human beings?

Difficult issues series

Cave painting

Last post (Why the fuss about evolution?) we looked at how the science of biological evolution impacts on christianity. We saw that the DNA evidence indicates that there was never a single Adam and Eve style couple as the ancestors of the human race.

This then raises the interesting question – who were the first human beings?

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Face to face with the Old Testament

Old Testament scholar

The Old Testament presents a number of problems for many christians. We are taught it is the inspired Word of God, yet it contains many things we find difficult – Genesis 1-3 is contradicted by evolution, God commands his people to invade and kill, and there are some strange events that are hard to swallow (e.g. the Nephilim, Noah’s Ark, God trying to kill Moses but not succeeding, and a talking donkey).

The Old Testament is probably a major reason why many people brought up as christians reject their belief, and it probably causes far more difficulties to christians than the New Testament does.

For many years, I put the problems aside. Jesus was the basis of my faith, and the New Testament told me all I needed to know about him, and how to follow him. I read the Old Testament mainly for understanding Jesus as a Jew, and I left the problems on the backburner.

But a couple of years ago, I started to pray that God would show me how to understand the difficult and nasty parts of the Old Testament, and then I read a few good books on the topic. Whether God has answered that prayer or not is not for me to judge, but I have certainly come to some conclusions…..

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The Old Testament: an update on a journey (part 1)

Hebrew Scriptures

This post is very much a personal reflection about a journey I am still on.

For years I didn’t think much about the Old Testament. I read it sometimes, looked up passages occasionally, appreciated Isaiah and Ezekiel. But I didn’t really spend much time considering what I thought about it. After all, I am a christian, living in the new covenant, and following Jesus is my greatest priority. Of course I needed to understand Jesus in his Jewish context, and that meant in the context of the Hebrew scriptures, but I didn’t need to have a settled view on the many difficult questions raised by the Old Testament.

Eventually, a couple of years ago, I started to pray that God would lead me into a better understanding of the Old Testament, especially the difficult questions. And then I began to do some reading, thinking and research. And I think God has started to lead me somewhere.

So here is where I am up to. I’m not finished yet – there is much I have yet to work out. But I think I can at least see a little way ahead.

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Book review: Inspiration and Incarnation

Book cover

Understanding the Old Testament isn’t always easy. As well as Genesis-evolution, there are many apparent inconsistencies, within the Old Testament, and between the Old and New Testaments.

And those who have read a little about ancient Middle East archaeology, history and literature may have noted similarities between Biblical accounts of creation, the flood and the law, and earlier writings covering similar themes.

This 2005 book by a respected Old Testament scholar aims at addressing a few of these issues based on good scholarship, in a way that is helpful to christians.

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