Joshua: An Introduction and Commentary

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Joshua: An Introduction and Commentary. By Richard S. Hess. TOTC. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1996, 320 pp., $11.99 paper

In this most recent addition to the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series, Richard Hess gives us what is certainly the best, currently available, and up-to-date commentary on Joshua written from an evangelical perspective. Hess is thoroughly familiar with the whole range of contemporary Joshua studies including its literary, historical, archaeological and theological dimensions. He provides competent overviews and assessments of current discussions on all these matters along with his own conclusions. He provides abundant evidence that many features of the book (he discusses nine of these on pp. 26-31) can best be explained by tracing their origin to the 2d millennium BC, although he comments that this "commentary will not attempt to 'prove' the historicity of any part of Joshua . . . it will accept the work as preserving authentic and ancient sources that attest to events in the late second millennium BC" (p. 31).

In a very useful discussion of the theology of the book (pp. 42-53), Hess calls attention to four theological themes: =Holy war and the ban;" "the inheritance of the land"; "God's covenant with Israel"; and "the holy and redeeming God." Hess regards the holy war concept as something not unique to Israel, but rather as an ancient Near Eastern political ideology that Israel shared with other nations of that time (e.g. Mari, Moab, Egypt). What he does see as unique to Israel is that "God did not approve of all wars" (cf. e.g. Ali [p. 43]). In developing his discussion of the holy war theme, Hess traces the theme on into the NT and sees Christ as "the victim of the holy war that God wages against sin (2 Cor 5:21). The earthly army that Christ leads introduces the other focus of holy war: the engagement of Christians in a lifelong spiritual struggle against the powers of sin and evil (2 Cor 10:3-5; Eph 6:10-18) This war also requires the total extermination of the enemy. It allows for no involvement with sin, but demands a complete separation from it" (p. 46).

Hess places the boundary lists of chaps. …