The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest: Covenant, Retribution, and the Fate of the Canaanites
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The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest: Covenant, Retribution, and the Fate of the Canaanites  -     By: John H. Walton, J. Harvey Walton

The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest: Covenant, Retribution, and the Fate of the Canaanites

IVP Academic / 2017 / Paperback

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Product Description

Both Christians and skeptics struggle with the God that seems to be described in the Old Testament. Often these struggles revolve around questions such as: “Do the so-called holy war texts portray a divinely inspired genocide?” “Did God command the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites?” If so, “How can Christians worship such a God?” In The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, John H. Walton and J. Harvey Walton analyze the way these difficult passages have been translated and interpreted over time in an attempt to recalibrate our perceptions and reframe our questions to reveal new insights about the Israelite conquest narratives. This book provides readers with a serious analysis of the Hebrew Bible in its ancient context and culture and creates a fresh look at this age-old problem, providing its readers with a new way of interpreting the many issues involved.

Product Information

Title: The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest: Covenant, Retribution, and the Fate of the Canaanites
By: John H. Walton, J. Harvey Walton
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 288
Vendor: IVP Academic
Publication Date: 2017
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
Weight: 12 ounces
ISBN: 0830851844
ISBN-13: 9780830851843
Series: Lost World
Stock No: WW851843

Publisher's Description

Biblical Foundations Award Winner

Holy warfare is the festering wound on the conscience of Bible-believing Christians. Of all the problems the Old Testament poses for our modern age, this is the one we want to avoid in mixed company.

But do the so-called holy war texts of the Old Testament portray a divinely inspired genocide? Did Israel slaughter Canaanites at God's command? Were they enforcing divine retribution on an unholy people? These texts shock us. And we turn the page. But have we rightly understood them?

In The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, John Walton and J. Harvey Walton take us on an archaeological dig, excavating the layers of translation and interpretation that over time have encrusted these texts and our perceptions. What happens when we take new approaches, frame new questions? When we weigh again their language and rhetoric? Were the Canaanites punished for sinning against the covenanting God? Does the Hebrew word herem mean "devote to destruction"? How are the Canaanites portrayed and why? And what happens when we backlight these texts with their ancient context?

The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest keenly recalibrates our perception and reframes our questions. While not attempting to provide all the answers, it offers surprising new insights and clears the ground for further understanding.

The books in the Lost World Series follow the pattern set by Bible scholar John H. Walton, bringing a fresh, close reading of the Hebrew text and knowledge of ancient Near Eastern literature to an accessible discussion of the biblical topic at hand using a series of logic-based propositions.

Author Bio

J. Harvey Walton (MA, Wheaton College Graduate School) is a researcher in biblical studies and has contributed to a variety of publications. He is pursuing graduate studies at St. Andrews University.


John H. Walton (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School. Previously he was professor of Old Testament at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for twenty years. Some of Walton's books include The Lost World of Adam and Eve, The Lost World of Scripture, The Lost World of Genesis One, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, The Essential Bible Companion, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis and The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (with Victor Matthews and Mark Chavalas). Walton's ministry experience includes church classes for all age groups, high school Bible studies and adult Sunday school classes, as well as serving as a teacher for "The Bible in 90 Days." John and his wife, Kim, live in Wheaton, Illinois, and have three adult children.

Editorial Reviews

"The conquest of Canaan is arguably the most intractable ethical problem in the Bible, and to date no solution has garnered a consensus. These authors offer a genuinely fresh approach to mitigate the difficulties. Deeply rooted in ancient Near Eastern mores and reconsideration of key biblical words and texts, the arguments challenge many commonly held ideas. While provocative at times, this book deserves careful consideration."

-- John W. Hilber, professor of Old Testament, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary

"The violence in the book of Joshua has long vexed devoted Bible readers. The father and son authors of this fine volume offer a fresh, more pacific reading of the book in light of what they deem to be relevant ancient Near Eastern parallels. They present their case in a series of propositions that rebut inadequate (in their view) modern solutions and support their alternative view with impressive close rereadings of biblical and extrabiblical texts and illuminating Hebrew word studies. They argue, for example, that the Hebrew verb herem means 'to remove from use,' not 'to annihilate,' and that its application to human communities 'is intended to destroy identity, not to kill people.' Indeed, ancient cultural ideas of order (versus disorder), identity (not ethnicity), and the suzerain-vassal model of what the authors call 'covenant order' drive their argument. Ultimately, they demonstrate that to read the Bible from an ancient (versus modern) perspective may yield a clearer, less distorted understanding of its controversial topics. They have proffered a commendable, thorough, thought-provoking rethinking of violence in Joshua and its implications for Christian identity today."

-- Robert L. Hubbard Jr., professor emeritus of biblical literature, North Park Theological Seminary

"Into the many recent discussions concerning the ethical and moral problems of the Israelite conquest, Walton and Walton offer a much needed corrective, effectively arguing that to properly understand these troublesome texts one needs to interpret them in light of their ancient context. They boldly challenge common assumptions regarding the conquest, carefully examine biblical and ancient Near Eastern texts, and helpfully guide readers to apply these lessons, using them as a template to make sense of the New Testament."

-- David T. Lamb, Allan A. MacRae Professor of Old Testament, Biblical Theological Seminary, author of God Behaving Badly and Prostitutes and Polygamists

"The Waltons have a provocative thesis that revises many popular and traditional views. They are attentive students of the Bible and its ancient context, and their argument is detailed. Bible readers who have wrestled with the implications of the conquest will find this work helpful."

-- James Matichuk, Bible Study Magazine, Jan/Feb 2018

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