Composition of the Book of Joshua


Approximate date: 1390 B.C.E. (Right); 1200s B.C.E. (some conservative-moderate); before 586 B.C.E. (some conservative-moderate, some Left); mid-to-late 500s B.C.E. (some Left)

Time period: Israel subduing the Promised Land

Author: Joshua exclusively (Right); Joshua, Eleazar, and later editors (some conservative-moderate); Eleazar or Phinehas (some conservative-moderate); Israel’s court historians or an unknown exile from the Southern Kingdom (Left)

Location of author: Israel in the process of subduing the Promised Land (Right, conservative-moderate); Jerusalem, Babylon, and/or Land of Israel (Left)

Target audience and their location: people of Israel entering and conquering the Promised Land (Right, conservative-moderate); Jewish religious leaders during the reign of King Josiah and/or Jewish exiles living in Babylon or returning from Babylon (Left)

Theological Summary: The Book of Joshua picks up the story of Israel’s history as the people finally enter the Promised Land after forty years of wandering in the desert. This account derives its name from its principal character, the man Joshua, who was anointed by Moses to be his successor and lead the Israelites into Canaan. God commands the people to move west and cross the Jordan River similar to how He led them through the Red Sea during the Exodus. Joshua, as the leader of the next generation of Israelites, moves us beyond the Exodus[1] and into the prosperous future that God has planned for His people.

The major theme of Joshua, that will resonate throughout other books of the Bible, is the establishment of God’s people in the land that He has chosen for them. This is commonly depicted as a place of “rest” (1:13, 15; 21:44; 22:4, 23:1). We see the God of Israel set against the gods of Canaan, as the Israelites move into the Promised Land and directly clash with its inhabitants. The Book of Joshua uniquely places the history of Israel into the larger history of the Canaanite world and its many city-states, and is debated for its accuracy among conservative and liberal Bible scholars.

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reproduced from A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic

One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.

Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.

A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.

290 pages