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God's commanding Joshua to commit genocide


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#1 David Lindblom

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 05:23 AM

I'm starting what might turn out to be a rather long debate w/ an atheist.  This has already come up and I have my own thoughts on it and have read an excellent write up on it by Protestant William Lane Craig but was wanting to find out what the Fathers say about these events.  Any Orthdox resource on this would be most welcome. Thanks.



#2 Rdr Thomas

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 02:02 PM

My guess is that your Atheist friend will not understand nor appreciate an Orthodox understanding of any of the "bad stuff" in the Old Testament.  I would look for St John Chrysostom and Blessed Theophylact.  Most of Saint John Chrysostom's works are available on the CCEL.  Unfortunately, I don't think much, if any, of Theophylact's works are even available in English.

 

Another resource would be to check the "Search the Scriptures" podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.  Presbytera Jeannie taught scripture at Holy Cross in Brookline, and the podcast is essentially her course for free (and probably in more detail).  She liberally quotes patristic sources in the podcast.

 

Shooting from the hip:

The gist is that you have to read those passages in light of the Gospel.  The typology would suggest that we have to prepare ourselves by rooting out all the bad elements within us to prepare for the coming of Jesus into our hearts (typified by Joshua, which is another spelling of Jesus).

 

From a practical perspective, God was preparing His people for the Incarnation by cleansing the land and thus assuring purity of worship.  It's worth noting that they failed to do this, and as a result started intermarrying outside Israel, thus causing many woes to befall later.

 

My $0.02



#3 Father David Moser

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 02:40 PM

Just a note that the commentaries of Blessed Theophylact are indeed becoming available in English. The Commentaries on the Gospels as well as the epistles of Galatians and Ephesians are in print and available from St John Chrysostom Press in St Louis. There are also a number of segments of the commentaries in the archives of Orthodox America (some of which are online) as well as some current translations made available in the magazine Living Orthodoxy.

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#4 David Lindblom

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 10:17 PM

Thanks for the tips.  I have all the commentaries by Bl. Theophylact that have been translated.  What I wish is that someone would translate the sermons of St. John Çhrysostom into modern English as opposed to what is available over at CCEL.  I've answered the fella and focused mostly on why God has the prerogative to take the life of whomever He chooses and it is not for us to call Him evil for doing so. They usually have a hard time swallowing that one.



#5 Carolyn C.

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Posted 01 March 2015 - 07:04 AM

David,  If you go to www.youtube and type in "Battles BC S01E03 Joshua" you will find a military reason why Joshua had to wipe out the various tribes the Israelites came up against as they proceeded into Canaan.  The video is about 43 minutes long and is very interesting.  At 4:15 into the video is the precise answer to your question from Richard Gabriel, professor at the Royal Military College of Canada.  The video is not religious.  It presents a strictly military approach to the conquest of Cannan, but I think you'll enjoy watching it.         



#6 Kosta

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Posted 01 March 2015 - 08:07 AM

Debating with an atheist on OT wars is futile. As Carolyn points out, its easy to understand what took place when knowing the historical realities of those times and simply applying basic military strategy.

This includes the fact that at those times people were organized within their collectivist tribes, These were not individualistic societies. Victory meant decimating the entire tribe as klan warfare would have tended to be eternal, in the same sense blood feuds can last generations. Tribal warfare meant going into war with your entire tribe, and if neccesary continued by your future generations avenging any loss.

Also israels enemies were far more advanced. Most of the surrounding tribes had already mastered metallurgy.They were in the iron age, they had weapons made of steel while the jews were still stuck in the stone age, for all these reasons there was no way to simply push them back and then sign a "durable peace treaty". Finally many of the things in the OT wars is written in hindsight.

Its not that a divine voice would cone down from heaven giving them military planning nor were their generals angels in disguise. For the jews, it was basically God was on their side guiding them; when victorious and when they lost it eas due to their sin.

Not really any different than today.

Edited by Kosta, 01 March 2015 - 08:14 AM.


#7 Lakis Papas

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Posted 01 March 2015 - 02:42 PM

 
Exodus 23:27-30
 “I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land.
 
Deuteronomy 7:2-4
 and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.
 
Deuteronomy 20:18
lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God.
 
Deuteronomy 12:30-31
take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
 
Deuteronomy 9:4-5
“Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
 
 


#8 Lakis Papas

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Posted 01 March 2015 - 03:04 PM

... I've answered the fella and focused mostly on why God has the prerogative to take the life of whomever He chooses and it is not for us to call Him evil for doing so. They usually have a hard time swallowing that one.

 

This is one way to answer. But when you provide this answer what kind of God do you offer to the atheist ?

 

This is our true God: 

 

Luke 9:51-60
Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem,  and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him.  But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
 
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”And they went to another village.


#9 Anna Stickles

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Posted 01 March 2015 - 08:08 PM

.  What I wish is that someone would translate the sermons of St. John Çhrysostom into modern English as opposed to what is available over at CCEL.  .

 

You might try Robert Hill's translations.   They are easier to read, but a much looser translation - kind of NIV style.



#10 David Lindblom

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 09:15 PM

Sorry for the lateness of my reply.  Thanks again all of you for your thots. 

 

Lakas Papas, I agree wholeheartedly w/ the presentation of the disposition of God/Christ in that passage as being the fullest revelation of Himself and His attitude towards us...but...from their perspective this view of God is radically opposed to the God of the OT.  Marcion comes to mind.  I guess this is just a difficult subject that requires time and conversation to work through...that is...if they have a mind that is truly seeking understanding and not just being a Pharisaical cynic.






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