March 21, 2012
I don’t have much to report on today because all I ever do is play Draw Something. Oh, and I also check books out from the library in hopes that they will help me with my thesis, but they do not. Then I throw those books at people in the student center. I am a treat.
I guess Denver has some new quarterback no one has ever heard of.
So we’ve been translating Joshua in Hebrew. Like I mentioned before, it’s kind of a tough book because Israel is on the warpath and they kill a lot of people. Joshua 10 and 11 talk about the Israelites systematically going through the southern part of the land and then the northern part of the land — attacking towns and killing everyone in them. Over and over again it says things like, “they left no one who breathed” and “they utterly destroyed everyone in it.” But what’s interesting is that they did not kill everyone. A couple chapters later in Joshua 14, Caleb is receiving his inheritance and he talks about how he’ll need to drive out the Anakim who are in his land. Well, in Joshua 11, it says that they killed all the Anakim in Caleb’s land — there were none left. In Joshua 17 and 18, we see that there are still Canaanites in the land that work for them — Canaanites that had supposedly all been killed a couple chapters ago.
This is where it is important for us to recognize that the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) mindset was different than ours. They were not concerned with direct quotes or precise numbers like we are today. We’ve created a system of journalism and reporting history that is very precise. It is our standard, but it wasn’t theirs. It just wasn’t their thing — which doesn’t make it bad, just different. You can look all over ANE documents, and you see the kind of language that’s in the Bible. When Joshua says that the Israelites killed any and everyone, it means that they were now the ones in charge in the land. They took it over, they took down their kings, they defeated the strongholds of the towns around them. It’s hyperbolic language that is used to talk about how Israel was successful in taking over the land. In the Hebrew we see the repetition of words like “all” and “completely.” The author is making a point — they hadn’t killed everyone, but they were successful in taking over the Promised Land. It does not at all make the biblical text in Joshua untrue. It’s just their way of writing about it — it would’ve made complete sense to the ANE mindset.
A lot of times when we study the Bible, we impose our modern, Western sensibilities on it. But it was written by ancient people with an Eastern mindset. So we don’t read those passages and think that they are false or wrong or untrue. We read those passages and try to understand what the writers meant, how the readers would’ve understood the text, what the author was trying to communicate. Yes? Yes.
OK, I hafta get back to drawing stick figures on my iPhone. C-ya!