Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Joshua kicked ass and took names

ER: "The pace of Joshua is almost breathless."

Friend: "Never been an OT fan. But you got me curious. Is Joshua really 'breathless'?"

ER: "Joshua 1-11 is breathless ... if: You put away any squeamishness about an angry God commiting genocide against the people of Jericho and Ai, and others, and realize that, in the story, the point of the carnage is not vengence but purity, as in, the people of Israel, being a holy (set apart by God) people, could not allow themselves to be defiled by unholy (not set apart) peoples; You put away any notion that this story is 'history,' because it's not, it's a story; You, seeing it as a story, sort of keep in mind the usual elements of a story such as tension, irony, climax, heroes, villains, foilers, tricksters and so on; You ignore the overlaps, repeats and disconnects and bring your own continuity control to it; You keep in mind the big picture: Moses has got 'em all the way to the Jordan, and they're fixin' to cross over to the Promised Land; and most of all, after thinking about all of the above for a bit, you plunge in and hold on for the ride. I'm tellin' ya: Bruckheimer.

"Oh, and it helps to have a good translation; I recommend the NRSV, HarperCollins Study Bible, Student Edition. :-)"

Friend: "And how do you KNOW it's just "a story"? Why can't it be real history??"

ER: "How do you know gravity is why when a book falls from your hand it hits the floor? :-) I study the study of experts, including Jewish and Christian experts. There is history in it, but mostly in the fact that it has been told, not in the doing in the story being told.

"And, I didn't say 'just' a story. I would never denigrate it that way. WE -- well, not 'we' but most people -- are the ones who regard these kinds of stories as 'just' stories. They are important, dare I say, critical stories to understanding history. But that don't make them 'history,' as people now, in the West, understand 'history.'

"Besides that, if God is a God that commits freaking genocide, as depicted in this story, then I don't want anything to do with God, and I don't know why anyone else would either."


totally agree with you on your assessment of the "historocity" of Joshua. i really find it interesting that your friend that isn't that big of a OT fan jumps right to defend it's complete catagorization of HISTORY: absolute and God-written.

i too want nothing to do with the God of Joshua and i cringe at those who do. but you'll find this god more acceptable than the one of Peace, Justice, and Love found in many other parts of the bible.
Hey, Luke. :-)

My "Which?" is directed at Unser. What is sad?
But doesn't the "story" have its intention to be "history," and sacred "history" at that.

When we say it is a story and not history, the first thing we have done is to ignore, even destroy, the intention of the text to represent (not our conception of "history" - as construed post-enlightenment) its understanding of what is real.

If we apply the basis of your denial of its being "history", then there is no text that is history before the seventeenth, eighteenth century.

So, if I find that the text does not represent "story" but instead an approach to "history", then Joshua is very disturbing indeed, and may suffer in an evaluation of its conception of God, how to be the people of God, and what the people of God are to be about.
Does David McCullough not have "tension, irony, climax, heroes, villains, foilers, tricksters and so on"?
David McCullough isn't a "historian" any more than the author of Joshua.

I think ER's point stands.
McCullough sure did a great job with the Brooklyn Bridge. But if GKS says its bunk, then surely it must be so.

How about Ron Chernow?

So we ignore the internal act of the text and supplant our own, a priori? And this is what, exactly, reality exegesis? Survivor Island, Edmund?

If we do ignore it, it may be due to our self-interest: we'd rather not uncover the Manifest Destiny kinship that is uncovered by respecting the text.
I think it is being suggested that I am saying that the stories in Joshua did not "happen." I am not. I am saying the stories did not happen in the exactway described -- and maybe not very close. Big difference.

The only people who know what "happened" in a given episode are the people causing the happenings, or the ones to whom things happen -- and that only from their own experience; and fromn the time of the happening, to the reckoning, to the retelling, worlds change.

So, then, correct: NO telling of history tells it, whatever it ism as it happened -- because that has no exact meaning.

It's all a gloss. Some glosses are closer than others.

But, my bigger complaint stands: Why worship such a god? Worshiping a god previously understood as a thug, but now understood as a not-thug -- that's a different question.

Re, "When we say it is a story and not history, the first thing we have done is to ignore, even destroy, the intention of the text to represent (not our conception of "history" - as construed post-enlightenment) its understanding of what is real."

Not at all. The stories give meaning. Absolutely. But factualites are just tools, and minor ones, in communicating meaning -- and even less useful in communicating truth.
Besides all that, if archeology concludes that Jerecho was a village, and not a walled city, at the time the stories purport to tell of, well, then ... what? The seige of Jericho didn't happen? No, it just didn't happen the way the story says it happened.
The Vietnam War did not happen the way anyone -- not any single one or groups of ones -- said it happened.

But we still read the books and repeat the stories ahout it to try to understand what it meant.
all history is revisionist.
Makes sense...if 'the god of joshua' doesn't fit into our conception of God, then Joshua is just telling tales.

And damn that Moses too for his blood letting tales. He probably spawned Joshua's violent imagery.

And that brawler Paul had the audacity to reference Pharoah's destruction...give us a break, Paul.

And of course, as you've mentioned, the 'sinless' Jesus had a few picadillos in his 'holy' closet.

But I'm sure there are a few bits and pieces in the old B-I-B-L-E that we could do something with. But I'll be sure and confirm it with you first.

Thanks for your service to unenlightened, who so desperately need assistance in revising the revisionists.
Let's call it historical allegorical truth. There probably was a Joshua, both in the Old and the New Testaments, and they probably did the things recorded in some way or another.

One thing for certain God evolves over time in these stories. But of course God being God doesn't really evolve. It is just that the children as they mature see Daddy as more of what he really is, or more of what they perceive him to be.

Did stuff like Jericho actually happen? Of course it did all the time, then and now. Joshua of Jericho was no less directed by God than George Bush was. The trumpets of Joshua were as real as George's televised "Shock and Awe" and for the same purpose.

Did Joshua of Bethlehem exist, of course he did. Like the story of the first Joshua was told by the winners, so the story of the second Joshua is also told by the winners. Standard Operating Procedure in all history or religion.

Found a computer in the motel lobby of this Missouri motel. HI!
Re, the mention of David McCullough: Yes! In any given work, he has taken what he chose of the facts of history that he knew about and could get to, and analyze, and then employed the tools of storytelling to craft a narrative. It's his narrative. His story.

I do something similar for a living: I take information, process it and churn out news, or news-features -- journalism, anyway.

BTW, Anon, there are two impossible-to-reconcile Gods mentioned in the first two chapters of Genesis -- impossible to reconcile except as different perceptions of the same God. With the first one, the Hebrew word is translated "God," and with the other, it's translated "the LORD." Which do you prefer? Oh, and which of the two different creation stoties do you prefer?
"Makes sense...if 'the god of joshua' doesn't fit into our conception of God, then Joshua is just telling tales. "

Or perhaps some like the notion of Killer God and Ninja Jesus precisely because it does fit their conception of God, even when those conceptions are not supported by the text.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Seems to me that there is a lot of unbelief here or I should say misplaced belief. To put intellect before faith will surely end with disappointment and confusion. mom2
Hi mom2.

I absolutely have faith* in a loving God** through*** Christ****.

If yer saying I need somethin' else, I'm sayin' yer wrong.



* faith, as in trust, not as in "I believe X or Y."

** "Loving God" is redundant in Christian thinking. "God" the term is subject to scrutiny, interpretation and experience; and I am compelled by my scrutiny, interpretation and experience to trust God.

*** Setting all working hypotheses of "atonement" aside, there is atonement in Christ.

**** Or, ChristJesus, as St. Paul usually, if not always, put it. Resurrected, as Paul seemed to understand Resurrection. Alive, as Paul seemed to understand it.

Blah, blah, blah,

More phony pious McNuggets from mom2.

In my tradition, we believe that even our faith is not our own, but is a gift of God's good Grace. If you have a problem with the faith God has given anyone, mom2, I suggest you take it up with the man upstairs.

As someone once said, the opposite of faith is not doubt, the opposite of faith is certainty. So if anyone needs to be worried about their faith here, I think it's pretty obvious who she is.

God doesn't have a problem with our doubts, if anyone understands them, it would be Him. The only people who really have a problem with doubts are the people who have such big ones, I suspect, that they have to spend their time wagging their fingers at others to cover up their own staggering doubts.

If they'd face those doubts, rather than trying to blame others for them, and judge others because of them, perhaps they'd learn something from their own doubts and grow up a bit.
I just have trouble finding which parts of the Bible you guys believe. Carry on Alan. You don't bother me one bit. Bit of a bully aren't you? mom2
First you say I don't bother you, then you call me a bully. Schizophrenic much? LOL And this from a person who condemns us all to hell anytime she stops by. If you get so worked up by anything some stranger writes on the internet, I'd suggest you stop trolling.

Which parts of the Bible do I believe? I'll make this simple enough for even you to understand: All of them.
mom2: "I just have trouble finding which parts of the Bible you guys believe."

The Bible is not to be belived, mom2. It's role is to point us on the way the One Who Is, the only worthy believed-in-subject there is.

mom2 has a Bible which she substitutes for God, a certain kind of place of faith that suffers from the world rather than for it.
ER, regarding McCullough, are you saying he is an historian working like all historians as we understand history?

Or do you agree with GKS that he is no historian. What is historical production for GKS, I wonder.

But the book of Joshua's world view is not ours. The book of Joshua has no inherited a value of inquiry, research, reasoned reflection, using objectivity as a framework, even if, in the last analysis, unreachable.

Does the book of Joshua understand the hermeneutic circle? Hardly.

The book of Joshua has its own intentions, grounded in its own orientation to the cosmos, to a certain set of social and personal 'life worlds" constructed out of whole packages of unconscious and assumed structures of the interplay of meaning, custom, conformity, and theological impulse.

By stretching it between "story" and "history" - words which we instill with our own semi-conscious and assumed structures of meaning - we immediately and perpetually destroy the very road into the book which may draw closest to its internal world.


ER, you have raised possibilities and probabilities that our introjected framework of historical expectation of what went down in the time that the book of Joshua describes would not match what or how Joshua presents as the events of Israel's invasion and conquest of the land.

It may be even a far more breach than that.

No archeological evidence currently exists for either the exodus or the invasion of Canaan. There are no signs of towns being pillaged or destroyed during the time, no sign of the appearance of any foreign people, forced or otherwise.

It may simply be that the people for whom Joshua writes, are only a certain victorious tribe of Canaanites that, in their rise to power, needed to see themselves as worthy of the political victory and needed to see themselves as set apart in purity.

It may simply be that the book of Joshua is a mythic nationalist narrative to provide post-conquest justification for winning... in other words, to feel good, theologically good, about their "manifest" destiny.

On McCullough, yes, that's what I mean. I don't know what GKS meant.

On Joshua: Agreed! It's a theological narrative with all the elements of what we consider historical facts: places, times, people, actions, causes, effects, etc. Very much like the four Gospels that way.

O the archeology: Yes, we've been talking about that. I think that, of the prevailing theories, I'm of the one that, among other things, sees the O.T. in general as a patchwork of traditions and histories and lore from a variety of peoples -- maybe even 12 tribes, for example -- that came to be known as Judah and Israel. And that at least one of them had a Joshua and a story of Jericho, and Ai, and etc.
You know, I was telling somone just a few minutes ago that the more I get into this stuff, the CLOSER I feel to the Ineffable, which we call "God." How is that???
Because the effable is getting put in its proper place.
I think yer effing right. LOL
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