I’m working on my Sex and Violence in the Hebrew Bible paper, and I came across something that messed me up.
I’m reading Show Them No Mercy, 4 View on God and Canaanite Genocide and its set up good. Four different scholars write about their views on the genocide and violence in the Hebrew Bible and then the other three respond to their essay. One essay by Daniel Gard states this, “the nation of Israel was not unique…in the ancient Near East. They were following the practices of other nations, which practiced their own equivalent of herem (genocide).”
Here is C.S. Cowles reply.
“The examples he cites, however, occurred three to four centuries after the Conquest. Thus, it was no Israel who followed “the practices of other nations,” but the nations who adopted Israel’s ideology and practice. What is amazing, given the prevalence of genocide in the twentieth century, is that so few nations followed Israel’s lead. Idolatrous nations showed more compassion toward defeated enemies that the Israelites did.”
2 thoughts on “Israel’s Violence”
I’ve written a short paper on the command to destroy the Canaanites, followed by an email discussion with a questioner. Based on his responses, I’m confident that you too will find it at least somewhat helpful.
Faith is not in biblical terms, opposed to knowledge. Believing without evidence is never faith; it is always presumption. Faith is being faithful to the truth, including frank recognition of the weak spots in our reasonings, with a consequent insistence on getting the truth on it. At least that’s how we see it with the beliefs of those we disagree with!
Doubt describes unrelated things in the same way. The doubt the scriptures condemn is not believing what we have every reason to believe. It made no sense for Peter to doubt when he was walking on the water because what difference did the wind and waves make? If God wasn’t holding him up, he’d sink in still water? But we like when Mormons and JWs doubt what they’ve been taught, and if that’s good for them, it’s good for us.
I entirely agree with the doctrine of the Trinity, but not with the idea that it’s foundational, or that the orthodox position on the hypostatic union is primary, because it’s perfectly obvious in the gospels that Jesus didn’t think so. Jesus thought the apostles qualified for leadership without nailing these down, because it’s other stuff that really counts.
In the gospels, we find not that you get right who jesus is and the Trinity so as to have a relationship with God. Rather, you walk with Jesus and get to know him, and in this way learn the Trinity and Christology by experiencing them. God has called us to be witnesses, not philosophers, and the apostolic doctrine is learned by being experienced, like anything else in life that really matters (1 John 1).
Leadership is not about being answer men anyway. Leadership is following Jesus and thereby clearing a path for others to follow. And that gets done only by being strictly truthful baout what we don’t know and finding out how to live in the truth, which is that our knowledge is always partial and we don’t have anything except a relationship with the God of truth. Paul wrote (including himself) that we see in a mirror in a riddle, and so we can be sure we can’t do any better. It’s most significant that this is stated at the end of his discourse on love. When we have to say I know, declaring ourselves certain about all sorts of things before God has actually made them clear to us, love is banished – it’s all sycophancy, insecurity, and mingled timidity and conceit.