Yesterday our church began an 8 week study through the Old Testament book of Joshua. If you’re interested in studying Joshua for yourself here are a few resources I’d recommend:
The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary is my go-to Bible dictionary (I have 4-5). When studying an ancient book like Joshua having a handy reference for terms, cultural practices, and geography is essential.
If you could only afford one commentary on Joshua I’d tell you to buy this short paperback from Dale Ralph Davis. No other commentary will teach you to read Joshua for all it’s worth. It’s accessible, insightful, and convicting. Davis offers study questions at the end of each chapter, and at just under $15 you won’t find another Joshua commentary this affordable.
A step in a more scholarly direction lands at David Howard’s New American Commentary volume. There’s no Hebrew to read, but the work is twice as long as Davis’ commentary. Here you’ll find answers to questions on Joshua’s authorship, date, composition and other critical questions. For those who want the scholarly material without being a scholar.
The final commentary I’d recommend would be the New International Commentary on the New Testament’s offering from Woudstra. Footnotes for miles. Still no Hebrew, though the formatting/writing style is the least accessible of the three commentaries recommended. I usually look to this series of commentaries to help me understand the text at the paragraph level.
The hairiest issue for Christian in Joshua is that of the Canaanite Conquest. Why did God command the killing of the men, women and children who occupied the land of Canaan? How can we reconcile the commands of God to kill in the Old Testament with the commands of Christ to love in the New Testament? Here are three resources I read to help prepare for this question.
Christians disagree with how to answer for the Canaanite Conquest. This book offers 4 different positions from and evangelical point of view (though I’d argue that the first position from C. S. Cowles borderlines evangelicalism at best). Reading this book will not just help you understand how to answer the question of genocide in the Old Testament, it will make you a better theologian and Bible reader at the same time.
Is God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan answers numerous questions asked about the God of the Old Testament. The four chapters dedicated to Yahweh War in Joshua represent the best contemporary scholarship has to offer from a theologically conservative perspective.
Holy War in Bible is the most technical/scholarly of these three books. Essentially a collection of theological papers edited into a single volume, the book addresses the topic from a variety of viewpoints. Ethics professors, Old Testament scholars and philosophers combine to round out a full fledged discussion on subject. This book isn’t for the casual reader or the uninitiated, but I’ve found it abundantly helpful.
If there are other resources you’d recommend I’d love to hear about them in the comments section.