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"Israel Served the Lord"

The Book of Joshua as Paradoxical Portrait of Faithful Israel

Rachel Margaret Billings

Publication Year: 2013

Two themes have dominated scholarly interpretation of the book of Joshua within the past century: the literary "discovery" of the Deuteronomistic History and the archaeological detection of evidence related to Israel's occupation of Canaan. In this newest volume in the series Reading the Scriptures, Rachel M. Billings addresses the fragmentation often brought about by these developments and offers a more holistic reading of Joshua, which joins theological sophistication with an emphasis on its meaning and purpose as a literary work. Through a hermeneutical and literary lens, Billings analyzes the story of Rahab and Achan, the stories of the Gibeonites and the Transjordanian altar, and the theme of the completeness of Israel's taking of the land of Canaan. She argues that the way in which the book of Joshua presents these materials reminds Israel of the dynamic nature of its identity as YHWH's people—an identity that demands a continued response of obedience parallel to YHWH's ever-unfolding work on Israel's behalf. The book of Joshua portrays Israel's obedience as not merely an unattainable ideal or a thing of the past, but a living reality that unfolds when YHWH's people acknowledge His claim upon them and strive to serve Him.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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pp. 8-9

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pp. ix-x

This book is based on my doctoral dissertation, which I successfully defended in March 2010; it was written in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. Dissertations, although authored by a single per-son, inevitably emerge from a community. So many conversations and ...

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pp. 1-10

Two significant developments in biblical scholarship have converged to influence the reading of Joshua in the past century. First, a shift has occurred from the dominance of theories that more or less appended Joshua to source critical readings of the Pentateuch to the view that Joshua forms part of a larger Deuteronomistic History ...

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Chapter One: “Israel Served the Lord”

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pp. 11-24

Above all, previous holistic readings of the book of Joshua have shown one thing: that any convincing reading must deal with the tensions that the book presents to the reader. Paradoxically, this multitude of tensions sends the reader in search of some theme or focal point by which to gather together the multifarious strands and weave them ...

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Chapter Two: The Stories of Rahab and Achan

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pp. 25-52

The stories of Rahab and Achan will serve as the first locus of our investigation into the tensions in the book of Joshua and the purpose that these tensions serve within the narrative. I have grouped these two stories together because of the way in which they can be seen to function as mirror images of each other, as a number of scholars ...

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Chapter Three: The Gibeonites and the Transjordanian Altar

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pp. 53-93

The stories of the Gibeonite deception and the Transjordanian altar do not exhibit the natural connection inherent in Rahab’s and Achan’s ties to the conquest of Jericho, and thus are not commonly studied side by side as are Rahab and Achan. Yet they share a key feature: in both stories, Israel finds itself having to navigate a dilemma of faithfulness ...

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Chapter Four: The Extent of Israel’s Occupation of the Land

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pp. 95-131

Thus far, I have examined the theme of Israel’s obedience to YHWH in relation to relatively self-contained stories. In contrast, no single story neatly encapsulates the ambivalence exhibited by the book of Joshua in its portrayal of Israel’s taking of the land. Especially in the latter section of the book, the text varies in its presentation of the extent ...


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pp. 133-162


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pp. 163-171


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pp. 173-177

E-ISBN-13: 9780268075897
E-ISBN-10: 0268075891
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268022334
Print-ISBN-10: 026802233X

Page Count: 184
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 854828114
MUSE Marc Record: Download for "Israel Served the Lord"