Divine Violence: the Conquest of Canaan

less than 1 minute read

I recent spoke at a small event, organised for and by laypeople, on the topic of Divine Violence. Given my main area of interest, I approached the topic through the lens of the Conquest of Canaan.

This topic is a favourite among Christian Apologists, often coming at it from the angle of Divine Command Theory. Putting it politely, I find that approach abhorrent. It’s a stain on Christianity. Instead of going down that road I though it would be more useful to use the Conquest of Canaan as an example of how taking a historical-critical reading of the relevant texts usually demonstrates that we’re trying to defend something that doesn’t need defending.

Summary of the talk: The conquest described in the book of Joshua didn’t happen, and the command in Deuteronomy 20 to annihilate the Canaanites wasn’t given by God. That shouldn’t be a surprise given that Jesus isn’t a genocidal maniac, and he’s a better revelation of God’s character than much of what we read in scripture.

Here’s how it went: