Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 14 (2014) - Review

Noort, Ed (ed.), The Book of Joshua (BETL, 250; Leuven, Peeters, 2012). Softcover. Pp. xvi + 698. € 90.00. ISBN 978-90-429-2726-1.

The review of a 700 page volume cannot adequately highlight the wealth of information found in the proceedings of the 2010 Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense devoted to the book of Joshua, which follows previous seminars that covered the books of the Pentateuch. Published less than two years after the colloquium, the editorial quality of this volume is excellent.

After the editor's review of the history of research, the 33 chapters are arranged in six clusters covering most current methodological approaches in French, German, and English. Only the papers from the Dutch seminar are published in English. The volume deliberately juxtaposes different approaches, which unfortunately hardly interact with one another. The compartmentalization of research is even more flagrant within the various European cultures. German language Joshua commentaries remain overwhelmingly quoted in German articles and English language Joshua commentaries in English contributions. Only Noth's commentary is quoted more frequently in non-German articles.

After the editor's Einführung and his substantial history of research, “Josua im Wandel der Zeiten” (21–47), the first section Texts, Versions and Terminology gathers articles by Hans Debel, “A Quest for Appropriate Terminology: The Joshua Texts as a Case in Point,” Emanuel Tov, “Literary Development of the Book of Joshua as Reflected in the mt, the lxx and 4QJosha,” and Michaël van der Meer, “Clustering Clustered Areas: Textual and Literary Criticism in Joshua 18:1–10.” The mt cannot serve as the yardstick against which to measure the other Joshua texts (Debel), nor can the lxx be used as a direct witness of a pre-mt stage (van der Meer). “All three texts thus contain early and late elements, not in a neat pattern as observed in the Jeremiah texts, but in a much more complicated way…each of them is also multi-layered” (Tov, 85). The difficulty of reconstructing the history of the text when three separate versions are at hand is an ill omen for the next section.

The second section, Tradition, Composition and Text, opens with a fine narratological analysis of the first part of Joshua by André Wénin, “Josué 1–12 comme récit.” The reversal of exodus patterns and the changing tempo underline the coherence of these chapters, which close the era of the exodus. The next contributions point out the weaknesses of the Deuteronomistic History model and deal with the central issues concerning the place of the book of Joshua inherited from the previous century: Hexateuch versus DtrH. Erhard Blum, “Überlegungen zur Kompositionsgeschichte des Josuabuches,” identifies pre-Deuteronomistic material in Joshua 6*, 8*–12* and, like Knauf's 1998 Joshua commentary, views the Deuteronomistic reworking of these chapters as a Josianic elaboration of a pan-Israelite identity built in opposition to a Canaanite identity. In “Joshua 1,1–9: The Beginning of a Book or a Literary Bridge?” Thomas Dozeman shows that the question was never really resolved. “The mt of Josh 1.1–9 tends to separate the book of Joshua from Deuteronomy, while the lxx ties Josh 1,1–9 more closely to Deuteronomy, merging the stories of Moses and Joshua into a continuous history.” (Dozeman, 182). In “Die Adressatenkreise von Josua,” Axel Knauf reconstitutes the intended audience of the different stages he identified in his commentary. These stages consist primarily of the Moses–Joshua narrative, addressing the Benjaminites within the kingdom of Judah to counter the Judean David legend, the Deuteronomistic Tetrateuch (Exodus*-Numbers*-Deuteronomy*-Joshua*), for returnees from the Babylonian Golah, and the Hexateuch, intended for the Samarians after the destruction of Bethel. Once the constitution of the Torah turned Joshua into a “Deutero-canonical” book, Joshua became the paradigmatic Torah prophet like Moses. Finally, the Joshua-Judges redaction (Joshua and Judges remaining separate books until the formation of the Hasmonean prophetic canon as shown by the presence of the ark at Shiloh in Joshua 18 and in 1 Samuel 1) mainly concerns the settlement of Judeans/Jews in Galilee. Knauf continues with a detailed depiction of how Jesus followed in the steps of Joshua, which should not leave New Testament scholars indifferent. In “Are the Conquest Narratives of Joshua 6–11 Shaped According to Traditions in the Books of Judges, Samuel and Kings?” Haim Hamiel and Harmut Rösel present some points from a Haifa thesis by Haim Hamiel on the conquest narratives. Long considered local etiologies reshaped into pan-Israelite stories, the similarities between Joshua 8 and Judges 20, Joshua 6 and Judges 7, and Joshua 6 with 1 Kings 20 are evidence that “the Deuteronomistic History did not work from Joshua to Kings, but backwards from Kings to Joshua” (Hamiel and Rösel, 217). The next essay operates from entirely different premises: it presupposes a series of authors and origins, in the eleventh century b.c.e. for the book of Joshua and in the tenth century b.c.e. for the book of Samuel. Yet, Hendrik Koorevaar, “The Book of Joshua and the Hypothesis of the Deuteronomistic History: Indications for an Open Serial Model” reaches conclusions that are remarkably close to Knauf's. He argues that Joshua, Judges, and Samuel are separate works that were “attached to the previous one without making any changes to it” (231), and that in Joshua “the place YHWH would choose” (Josh 9:6) is an open formulation for the various temporary sites at which the mobile sanctuary would be set up and not a cryptic reference to Jerusalem.

The opposite approach pertains in the next two contributions. They use similar methods but reach quite different conclusions. Olivier Artus, “Josué 13–14 et le livre des Nombres,” contends that the function of Caleb and Eleazar in Joshua 13–14 aligns the theology of Joshua with the primacy of the priesthood presented in Numbers. In “Das Buch Josua als nicht-Fortsetzung des Buches Numeri,” Horst Seebass argues, however, that the book of Joshua arose as part of the Deuteronomistic History, thus mostly independently from Numbers. In this, Seebass is one of the few contributors who remains explicitly within the framework of the Deuteronomistic History.

Hans Ausloos, “The Book of Joshua, Exodus 23 and the Hexateuch,” focuses on Exod 23:20–33 and the similarities with Joshua while abstaining from any definitive conclusions regarding the redactional process. Similar to Knauf's contribution, “Hearing Esther after Joshua: Rest in the Exile and the Diaspora” by Arie Leder explores, “What does Israel hear when she hears Joshua read to her in exile?” (265), especially in light of the evaluation of Israel's management of the land in Kings. “Esther's allusions to Joshua's theme of rest challenge the auditor to re-imagine rest from the enemy” (278). Rest can be landed or landless: when it is landed it includes the duty “…to include the Other in the project of survival, as Esther did with Xerxes (and the Gibeonites with Israel)” (279).

Regarding Josh 22:9–34, Graeme Auld, “Re-telling the Disputed ‘Altar’ in Joshua 22,” suggests that an earlier version on which the lxx is based was more sympathetic to the builders of the Transjordan altar and that the tamed Phinehas of Joshua 22 is an Abraham-like negotiating figure. The Abrahamic model is also operative in Joshua 24 where, according to Bernard Gosse, “Abraham père des exilés en Josué 24,” the mentions of Shechem, Abraham, Nahor, and Terah broaden the horizon from the Jordan to the Euphrates.

Noting the oddity of the Israelites' granting of Timnat Ḥeres to Joshua so that he may dwell among them after dividing up the entire land, Zev Farber, “Timnat Ḥeres and the Origins of the Joshua Tradition,” argues that “Joshua started as a military hero or legend in the Mount Ḥeres region. He was particularly associated with his burial site in the town of Timnat Ḥeres.” (311) The name of the town was explained in relation to the miraculous halt of the sun during Joshua's battle at Gibeon and Ayalon, a miracle which perhaps pushed the local hero to the pinnacle of Israelite history.

The next section on History, Archaeology and Geography opens with a final article in French by Damien Noël, “Josué: de la géographie à l'histoire, l'impossible conquête.” Starting with the loud silence of the Bible over the Egyptian presence in Canaan when Joshua and Israel supposedly conquered the area, Noël deconstructs Israel Finkelstein's scenario of Israel's ethnogenesis (and logically ignores Faust's volume on the subject). Although Finkelstein's model is based upon updated archaeological data presented as an alternative to previous models, reading the settlement of the highland in the Iron Age I as Israelite or proto-Israelite is devoid of any historical basis. Moreover, Finkelstein's debates with William Dever over the issue are in effect unhelpful. On the basis of the geographic and ethnic designations in Josh 13:1–7, Koert van Bekkum, “Remembering and Claiming Ramesside Canaan,” concludes that the geographical conception of the Egyptian province of Asia was applied to the story of the conquest of the promised land already in the ninth century or earlier, and in any case in the eighth century b.c.e. at the latest. Similarly, Yigal Levin claims in “Conquered and Unconquered, Reality and Historiography in the Geography of Joshua” that the territories mapped out in Joshua betray an acute awareness of the political situation in the Iron Age I. Markus Saur, “Die Bedeutung von Sidon und Tyros in Josua 19,24–31,” explores the significance of the mention of the two Phoenician metropoles to mark out Israelite territory.

In the section Crossing the Jordan, Joachim Krause, “Der Zug durch den Jordan nach Josua 3–4: eine neue Analyse,” identifies a Deuteronomistic Grundschicht, two post-Priestly redactions, and various additions in the intricate narration of Joshua 3–4. By contrast, Elie Assis, “A Literary Approach to Complex Narratives,” understands the many repetitions and inconsistencies in these chapters as the result of a multi-dimensional presentation from different vantage points to produce a sophisticated meaning. The last contribution of this section, “Die Gestaltung des Gilgal (Josua 3–4): Das Buch Josua als Heterotopie,” by Egbert Ballhorn applies Michel Foucault's architectural concept of heterotopie to the stones of Gilgal.

Four contributions follow in the section Jericho and Violence. Arguing that conquest narratives should be read metaphorically, Ludger Schwienhorst-Schönberger, “Josua 6 und die Gewalt,” provides a thorough analysis of the conquest of Jericho in eight different layers (Grundschicht, Jehowist, Dtr, DtrP, DtrN, priestly, late Chronistic, and additions from the traditions of the War Scroll from Qumran). Jannica de Prenter, “The Contrastive Polysemous Meaning of חרם in the Book of Joshua: A Cognitive Linguistic Approach,” applies Eleanor Rosch's Prototype Theory to the term חרם understood as taboo: “something can be taboo either because it belongs to the category of holiness or to the category of defilement” (479). Both meanings appear in the book of Joshua. The possible overlap of the consecrated and desecrated connotations invalidate diachronic argumentations to explain the different meaning of the term. Marieke den Brader, “‘They keep going on…’: Repetition in Joshua 6,20,” combines the synchronic approach of Nicolai Winther-Nielsen and the more diachronic approach of Graeme Auld to study the rhetorical techniques of the mt and lxx texts of the shouts that shattered the walls of Jericho. Archibald van Wieringen, “The Literary Function of the Joshua-Reference in 1 Kings 16,34,” discusses the function of the reference to Joshua's curse in reference to the portrayal of King Ahab as the worst king in the history of Israel.

The final History of Reception section covers the Maccabees with Johannes Schnocks, “Die Rezeption des Josuabuches in den Makkabäerbüchern,” the New Testament with Cornelis de Vos, “Josua und Jesus im Neuen Testament,” and Stefan Koch, “‘Mose sagt zu Jesus’—Zur Wahrnehmung von Josua im Neuen Testament,” as well as Josephus and Pseudo-Philo: Christopher Begg, “Josephus' and Pseudo-Philo's Rewritings of the Book of Joshua.”

This section and the volume close with two German contributions. The first one by Michael Rohde, “Die kontextuelle Theologie Mitri Rahebs: ein Beispiel für die exegetische und hermeneutische Bedeutung des Buches Josua für die Frage nach dem ‘Heiligem Land,’” is about the contemporary appropriations of Joshua's conquests as they are reflected in the writings of a Lutheran Palestinian theologian and pastor at Bethlehem. The last one is a view from the other side. Marie-Theres Wacker, “Feldherr und Löwensohn: das Buch Josua—angeeignet durch David Ben-Gurion,” is an excellent introduction to the reception of Joshua in the Zionist mytho-history of the founder of the State of Israel with a closing section on the Settlers Movement and its critique. Had these two contributions been translated in English, the volume would have made an even more significant contribution to the academic discussion since they focus on some relevant contemporary issues regarding the book of Joshua. Still, the bibliography at the end of Wacker's article (646–47) lists a good selection of German and English sources. A similar issue pertains to the four articles in French; translating these articles in English would have made them accessible to a broader audience.

Thanks to the 50 pages of indices, the volume is a treasure-trove and an essential resource for the study of any particular theme or passage in the book of Joshua. Significantly enough, the dozen quotes of Martin Noth's Ueberlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien confirm the wane of the theory of the Deuteronomistic History. Other recent syntheses, like Thomas Römer's recent monograph on the Deuteronomistic History, likewise receive less than a handful of quotes.

Philippe Guillaume