”Oh, what a lovely war.” Christian style.

To cut to the chase, the problem with the Conquest Model is that it tends to read the Book of Joshua is a very wooden, literalistic way, without any consideration for the literary artistry of the book.

Joel Anderson. phd

“A Biblical History of Israel” by Iain Provan: An Extended Book Analysis”

Literary artistry?

It is worth reminding people like Joel of what is described in the ”Good Book”.

Joshua 10:40

So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.

Fiction or not, this sounds pretty much like genocide to me and hardly bedtime reading for the kiddies.

Again one has to ask – literary artistry?

Is he serious? Apparently he is.

This is like suggesting the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge was a:  ”Wonderful romp through Southeast Asia.”


Maybe you would like to say hello to Joel and add your thoughts to his post …. here.


75 thoughts on “”Oh, what a lovely war.” Christian style.

  1. I spent so much time trying to make sense of the contradictions in the Bible.

    Once I accepted that the Bible was a flawed human work it made so much more sense to me. But it is not feasible to adopt this position and maintain your belief.

    The Biblical apologists struggle with versus like:
    “The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron.” (Judges 1:19 NIV).

    Apologists of course will not admit defeat.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, Yahweh was such a wuss in the Olden Days.
      Why couldn’t he have simply organised a few FV 4034 Challenger 2s.?
      That would have sorted out those bloody heathen Canaanites Toot Sweet!


  2. Well, right now, I’m reading a lovely, kind, empathic German book about the superiority of the Aryan race entitled “Mein Kampf”. It’s a joyful tale filled with wonder, love, and hopefulness for the future, if ya happen ta be of the Aryan race, and I highly, highly recommended it on its artistic merits alone. Enjoy.


      1. World domination and other Kampfire tales?

        (Oh, yes — and the Jews controlled all the caravan parks, and wouldn’t let the Aryan master race make any bookings).🐒💨

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The pathetic thing is that the actual writers of the Book of Joshua knew they were writing a glorious past for their nation that had nothing to do with the truth. In other words, they thought extermination of various groups of Canaanites was a laudable thing, even when the proto-Israelites were Canaanites themselves. (Yahweh was a Canaanite god before being adopted by the Hebrews … El, too, Baal, too.)

    So the writers idea of a glorious past was the bloody conquest and genocide of their neighbors. In some ways, this is worse than if it had been actual history.

    Doesn’t seem much like a “kinda makes you proud” story, now does it?

    Liked by 3 people

        1. I know …
          What’s the worst of it is with products like Viagra there is no excuse that governments don’t do enough to stamp out this ”cultural” crap once and for all.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. The Bible is messy but that is real life. If it did not resemble reality it would not be believable. As for genocide, I struggled with this for awhile. My understanding is these people were beyond help. Human sacrifice and torturing babies kind of evil. There may have been good reason for wiping them out.


        1. INSP:

          X millions of God’s chosen people may have had an issue … thank God I’m not one of His chosen. Brrrrr~!


          1. Yeah…but…you know…..Hitler wrote a book…..and….well…in the book it…like….said…..stuff…you know. Anyway, Hitler, like God, had NO issue with genocide. So…like….well….like God…he musta had a good reason……right?


          1. I can’t speak to that. For me, I wish it were not a thing, but there may be a situation it becomes necessary.


          2. You consider that there could be a situation where genocide becomes necessary?
            In that case, please describe a modern day scenario where this would be ”justified.”
            And remember, you are promoting a situation where one nation/ organisation (NATO for example) would be justified in liquidating an entire nation/ethnic group including all women and children as per Joshua 10:40.

            Are you really sure this is what you are advocating, Kevin?

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Not really advocating. Just admitting it’s a thing. What would you do if an extremist religious group was systematically annihilating anyone who doesn’t believe what they do? Btw … I have been threatened directly and indirectly with eradication. Just for being a Christian.


          4. Neither? I’m saying there may be situations that it is necessary and just. Btw … Joshua did not finish the job as commanded and it has been their downfall ever since.


          5. So in fact you are advocating genocide if you deem the situation warrants it.
            This is effectively what you are saying.

            Btw … Joshua did not finish the job as commanded and it has been their downfall ever since.

            Aside from the fact the book of Joshua is a work of fiction, please explain what you mean by ”their downfall.”


          6. Advocating makes it sound like I am OK with it. I’m saying it may be necessary.

            They did not finish the job. A significant number were left. It would hurt them for years after. Even into modern days?


          7. And why do you consider it would be necessary to liquidate an entire population/culture?
            You did not explain what you meant by their downfall. Can you please answer this?


          8. If a group of people is threatening everyone around them then there may be no other option. I can understand why this would be tough to swallow but it’s in there so I think we should own it. Life is not all kittens and butterflies.

            The population that was left infiltrated and dragged down their culture allowing them to be broken up and conquered repeatedly. Modern Israel is an attempt to recover what they lost.


          9. If a group of people is threatening everyone around them then there may be no other option.

            At one time, the Soviet Union was on the brink of starting nuclear war – you may remember the Cuban missile crisis, or at least be aware of it?

            Would there be any moral grounds to liquidate the entire Soviet population because of this (at one time) very real threat?

            The Nazis ”threatened everyone around them” .
            You may be aware of what happened next? It was called World War II.
            Did the allies set about liquidating the German nation? Would they have been within their moral rights to do so?
            Or consider Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Two terrible incidents that for all intent and purpose closed out WWII. The intent was to bring the war to a close, not to liquidate the Japanese, and it was not necessary in any case.

            Aside from the fact the Captivity, Exodus and Conquest tale
            is nothing but geopolitical foundation myth, your defense of such an action is the perfect example of how religious indoctrination corrupts people like yourself.

            You need to study a lot more and definitely take a course in critical thinking.
            Before long you may be denying evolution and defending creationism. Or worse, YEC and then we may have to explain why dinosaurs were not, in fact, on the ark – which is also a work of fiction.


    1. @We Need to Hear Less From Kevin:

      Ah, there’s nothing like unreliable hearsay — or nationalist propaganda such as we find in the Bible –to mount an impeccable case for ethnic cleansing.😇

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your invitation to comment … why bother? “By their deeds shall you know ’em” and likewise with their words; they expose themselves, no? No—not to self-blinded eyes.

    I pity the uncritical, the tired, the weary, the oppressed yearning to break free (but without knowing it). It’s such yearnings that creation vacuums, and the religious drive for profits that fills them. (Profits, power, pelf, prophets … same thing.)

    All boils down that 3P lust: Profit, Pelf, and Power.


  6. Hey Ark, I’m posting my comment to his post here in case his spam filter swallows it.

    Hello and greetings from Huntsville!

    First, I should disclose I heard about your post from Ark’s blog. I’m an atheist. I promise, I come in peace.

    Disclosures out of the way, I think it’s an interesting take you have on Joshua and Judges here. Taking a literary view of the books into account, I was wondering if this forecloses on the other three models of settlement into Canaan. Does it open the door to the possibilities of these other models?

    Apologies in advance if you’ve addressed this point elsewhere and I missed it.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. He has stated rather emphatically that, archaeologists have no evidence to support the internal settlement pattern and
      have simply ”made up” the other options.


  7. Just my two cents (my comment on the other blog notwithstanding).

    The post looks like it’s covering an attempt to reconcile a deity that calls for genocide with a deity that comes around later and talks about turning the other cheek. This reconciliation is important, because it reinforces the idea that everything is consistent with each other. I used to do this when I was a Christian, and it happens without much attention getting paid to it.

    One important issue is the implied concession that Joshua wasn’t literally true. The reason it’s a big deal is because it invites a follow-up question: “If one part doesn’t say what is printed on the page, what are the consequences of that?”

    That follow-up opens a Pandora’s Box of problems. How does one know which additional lenses to interpret biblical texts? Could there be something that’s missing? If one passage isn’t literally true, how many others need interpretation? How much interpretation? Where should one get this interpretation? Why is that interpretation more important than the word of the deity I’m reading?

    There’s plenty more. None of these are “gotcha” questions, but they do probe at the support for reading extra ideas into an ancient text.


    1. He considers Moses was a real historical person, that the Captivity Exodus and Conquest was a literal historical event involving around 20-25,000 people.
      They did cross the Red Sea ( he does not acknowledge the mistranslation – Reed Sea / Sea of Reeds)
      He believes there is pretty good evidence that Mt Sinai is on the other side of the Gulf of Aqaba.
      He does not accept the Israelites stayed any length of time at Kadesh and he considers there was no genocide , this was merely war.
      I think this covers most of the salient points of his view/argument.
      Of course he accepts the miracles but can not provide any on the ground evidence.


  8. All this discussion, all these words, all this time and effort wasted on both sides of the argument—neither is going to convince the other. Not with logic, nor with ancient self-contradictory ancient tomes. So:

    So why not simply ‘write off’ the lost souls on both sides; and again I implore—teach the young the rudiments of rational thinking, that they might sort things out for themselves?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It helps me some. I have resolved many questions I have about faith. Sharing them in a hostile situation strengthens my walk in Christ. My problem is I don’t always write well. Was hoping this environment would help that as well. Plus I like the pics Ark posts.


    1. My problem is I don’t always write well.

      Don’t worry about your writing. It’s fine.
      What you should be concerned about is your thinking.
      To this end I recommend you take a course on critical thinking.
      Meantime you could find and read up on some articles about critical thinking.
      And no, I am not being sarcastic , but extremely serious.
      And thanks for the compliment about my photos.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The first thing anyone wanting to
        (a) break out of the rut, or
        (b) find Reality
        should do is take on board the meaning of this simple maxim:

        “there is no such thing as a contradiction”

        —and wonder, why not?

        Why can there be no contradictions? Ponder these—

        A loving omnipotent God and the ‘holy’ fires of the Christian stakes?
        An all-powerful all-wise all-loving God … and the Holy Inquisition? (Any contradictions here?)

        No … just incorrect premises. If ever we find an apparent contradiction we must look for the incorrect premise, no?

        Try using ‘if’ … IF God is claimed ‘loving’ and IF God is all powerful as also claimed—the Holy Inquisition (and its modern equivalents) prove that God is not really ‘loving’; or He is not powerful enough to prevent the evils He sees.

        The Law of Contradiction = first step on the path to breakout, breaking out from under the thumb of the priest.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think maybe your definition of love is flawed. As a father I allowed my children to make mistakes and sometimes punished them because I love them.


          1. I’m willing to bet that you never sat them in a blazing bonfire, or nailed their feet to the floor? Or starved ’em to death? Your loving Father did (and does!) all these good things, and better. What’s really annoying is that He knew, fourteen billion years ago (give or take a bit) that He’d be doing what He does … and that He had absolutely NO option. Imagine that? An omnipotent being with no alternatives but to trudge the groove like the rest of us. Even worse for Him, though … He alone knows there’s no way out.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. You make a good point but how much suffering are we really talking about? Compare life to child birth. My wife tells me she barely recalls that it hurt. She remembers only our beautiful children and what great adults they have become. Kind of genius if you ask me. Without suffering you would never appreciate the good times.


          3. So does that mean the individuals who are “suffering” in the biblical hell are “appreciating” the good times they enjoyed in life?

            Liked by 2 people

          4. Methinks thou art a lost cause, Kevin. So let’s agree to disagree—if you pass through the veil and are delighted, that’s wonderful for you. The alternative is simpler: that you will never know you were wrong. Win/win, for you.

            Now if I may be so presumptuous as to make a wish on your behalf … may you never be disappointed. If God welcomes you abroad with infinite loves, mercies, and all the houris the Arab God gives His own followers on arrival, wonderful for you.

            But if beyond this place looms but the horror of the shade … may you never realise it. (You won’t. And in all honesty, I don’t think I will either.)


      2. You are actually helpful in this regard but know that I was a philosophy and religion major. I’m always seeking the why and challenging myself to a better standard. Doesn’t Christianity hold any merit at all? Pay closer attention to the positive side of faith. You may be surprised in what you find.


        1. Doesn’t Christianity hold any merit at all?

          It is based on supernaturalism. Built into it is the implicit threat of eternal torture for non-compliance.

          Based on these attributes, no, it had no merit.
          Make sure you understand that I consider individuals have merit, but religion does not.

          There is no positive side to faith.


          1. Based on those attributes then your understanding may be faulty. How can you be sure there is no supernatural? Personally I think the eternal torture part may be mistaken. As for non-compliance … how difficult is it to believe in Jesus? Compliance has been made simple.


          2. I can’t be sure there is no supernatural. I am not the one making a claim there is .
            If you can first describe exactly what you mean by the term ”supernatural” and provide evidence for it … then maybe I will reconsider my view.

            Personally I think the eternal torture part may be mistaken

            So if you do not believe in this aspect of Hell do you believe in annihilism?

            Jesus who?
            The supernatural Jesus of Nazareth or the historical itinerant rabbi called Yeshua Ben Josef who may have been crucified by the Romans for sedition?


          3. Sorry. I just assumed you did not believe in any supernatural of any kind. You would need to take my and others personal experience as evidence if you have no experience of your own. There is some evidence of miracles. There are books about them if you care to look.

            Annihilism? Not sure that’s quite right. I sort of have my own idea that I can’t fully support. I have never been comfortable with the whole fire and brimstone theory.

            I think Jesus is aspects of both of your ors.


          4. Sorry. I just assumed you did not believe in any supernatural of any kind

            I don’t accept any claims of the supernatural, including your ”personal experience.” If you can provide evidence, however, then we can look at it.
            Feel free to present any evidence you have.

            There is some evidence of miracles.

            Really? I have never read of any evidence of miracles. Please list a couple of verified examples.

            Annihilism? Not sure that’s quite right.

            If you cannot define what you believe how on earth can you make any sort of argument for it’s defense?
            You may as well have typed this ….
            ”I sort of believe that smacking my kids is a good way to discipline them but I have my own idea of what that is.”
            Great … then tell us and explain it.


          5. There are plenty of documented cases of the miraculous. You can google it. Decide for yourself. I did see a statistic that 76% of doctors believe in miracles. Just saying it deserves a look.

            An assumption was made about what I believe. I haven’t refined what I think so I don’t want to go into it plus I’m not sure it makes a difference in this case for me.


          6. I asked for verified evidence of miracles.
            Of the ones you are aware of, no doubt you have your particular ”favorites” among them, so please list a few. Thanks.

            An assumption was made about what I believe.

            You made a number of statements that regarding genocide which you have failed to qualify.
            Also about Hell.
            If you refuse to state what you believe and for what reason then hat the Gehenna gives you the right to any opinion?


        2. Kevin:

          you were a philosophy and religion major? I’m impressed.

          But it makes me wonder, do qualifications make Truth?
          Could we not with just a little research dig up devout devotees of Islam, Judaism, Communism, Atheism, cannibalism (you name it, the list is almost infinite) with more and better qualifications than thine?

          My own qualifications? I can read, have done so, and can tie my own shoelaces. (I feel ready then to take on God Himself — but He never turns up. Bummer …)


          1. Don’t be impressed. In some ways it messed with me like when I found out my philosophy teacher was a Christian and my religion teacher an agnostic. It did get me to use my own brain and start challenging the establishment. I despised the amount of research involved. This was long before internet.


          2. It just doesn’t matter a damn to me what brand (from many thousands) of religion someone is. I test everyone (fairly impartially) for Truth and often by their ravings I know them.

            My own sole claim to fame is that once I had two well-brushed and besuited Mormons stop in mid babble, look at each other in utmost horror and (literally!) gather up their ‘teaching’ paraphernalia to run gibbering from my house. All I did was lead ’em gently into The Law of Contradiction and then king-hit them with an observation about their ‘teaching aids’.
            They came back a week later much more composed, their masters/manipulators having primed them to rebut my observation. I threw them out, the response was, to be honest, totally pathetic.

            Contradiction—she can’t be beat. May I suggest that you look for any contradictions between your programming and Reality? Your own good self, that is; don’t run screaming to your manipulators, break out and Think For Yourself. Or not. To do so could be literally life changing.


          3. I definitely have things to learn. So much garbage out there for sure. Trying hard to be thoughtful about it. Testing what I learn. Throwing out and tweeking things that don’t work. Adopting things that do. I am so far from what I want to be. That said, Christianity, properly applied, answers more questions than any way I have found so far. Offer me a better option. You seem content to be critical but offer nothing better.


          4. Kevin:

            What can I possibly offer that is better than the love of a truly compassionate omnipotent God? You’ve found Him, and I’m happy for you. You will never be disappointed.

            Liked by 1 person

  10. Joshua 10:40 is read in two ways. The way that reads ‘genocide’ contrdicts what is said elsewhere in Joshua and Judges. The way that reads that all the kings were killed fits what is said elsewhere in Joshua and Judges.


    1. I am aware of how certain parts of Joshua and Deuteronomy, for example. may be construed differently.

      Although, reading Joshua 10: 40, as it describes Joshua’s southern campaign one can be confident that this verse describes genocide.

      As there seems to be a number of different views on the point of whether the Israelites did or do not commit genocide, or were commanded to do so by Yahweh and what the word herem, or kherem actually means, including pre and post Talmudic interpretation, let’s put all biblical exploits to one side for a few moments and please, John K tell me what you understand by the English term genocide,
      Also, if you know of any instance that you believe would serve as an example of genocide, ancient or modern, then please mention it/them.



      1. Thinking about it, Ark,
        I’d try and use the examples of a couple of major events in the break-up of the Ottoman Empire where the attempted obliteration of the Armenian minority was genocidal whereas the mass redistribution of Greek and Turkish populations that followed, for all its evil results, was not.
        My observation on Herem is that the expression is one of a number where no-one could authoritatively or authentically mimic what was done in the A.N.E. though we have some idea. The classic example is the practice of putting ones children through the fire. It is enough that Scripture condemns it: why would we need to know exactly what was entailed.
        You are right to point out that the Israelites are more in danger of being accused of genocide in the Southern campaign than in the Northern but the blanket charge entrenches both sides and makes it more difficult to discuss when they were in the wrong and when not. In the particular case of Joshua 10:40 the special mention of kings makes it a more meaningful debate to inquire whether or not the ‘regime change’ was legitimate or not.


        1. Notwithstanding the Joshua campaign – in fact the entire invasion and conquest – is nothing more than geopolitical foundation myth, if the objective was to liquidate an entire community/ethnic group or nation then there are several instances in the tale where the actions/intent of the Israelites can only be regarded as genocide.

          The entire campaign was ”wrong”/illegitimate as the Canaanites had possession of the land.

          Therefore, it was nothing but a (supposed) theologically motivated land grab.

          That it was a fiction does not detract from the glorification of the action and the revolting and completely immoral manner that Christians (especially) still try to justify what went on.
          Think William Lane Craig and other proponents of Divine Command Theory.

          Furthermore, to offset any chance you were wanting to come back with the whole ”Canaanites were judged to be beyond the pale etc, ” if Yahweh needed no help to enact genocide via a global flood then he needed no help to rid Canaan of its occupants prior to the Israelite arrival, and it would be ridiculous to assert otherwise – and this would include any attempt to suggest it was necessary to ensure the Israelites needed to commit these atrocities as Yahweh commanded to ensure obedience etc.

          Again, the main issue on the table at the moment is our definition / understanding of genocide.

          I agree with your definition and your example.
          There are a great many others that would also fit the bill.

          Therefore, based on the definition you have offered, it would be fair to say that under Yahweh’s specific guidance/ orders regarding who was to be spared and who was not, the intent of the invading Israelite army was the attempted obliteration of the Canaanite (and others) population. as detailed in certain passages of Exodus and Deuteronomy.

          Are you in agreement with this?


          1. I don’t agree, Ark,
            because obliteration in general isn’t what happened and the passages that seem to the modern reader to glory in obliteration sit quite happily beside passages that put the lie to obliteration having taken place.


          2. Once again, the intention was to commit genocide – the text is plain enough that whole areas of apologetics have been dedicated to explaining/justifying the actions of Yahweh/Israelites.
            One can consider a similar intent was behind the extermination of the Cathars.

            As you seem at pains to not acknowledge genocide, let’s consider 1 Samuel 15 and the command to Saul to liquidate the Amalekites?
            There can be no misunderstanding over Samuel’s command. Although, even here Saul spared Agag (later executed by Samuel, of course).

            Surely you accept this was (intended to be ) genocide?


          3. Actually no, Ark,
            but the Amalakite case is well chosen to explain why not. The reason we couldn’t call it Genocide is down to the difference between — to use the common expressions — ‘bad blood’ and a ‘bad name’. Haman the Agagite was presumably descended from some Amalakite who was taken to Babylon in Nebuchadnezzar’s captivity experiment and the family had prospered well enough that Haman had a high position in the Persian court after the fall of Babylon. The vast extent of the Persian Empire — India to Ethiopia — made it the perfect place for anyone to lose the inherited baggage of family feuds and opprobrium should they so wish. Haman’s family chose rather to intensify the feud by taking Agag’s name and perpetuating the grudge against the Jews. Haman was prepared to go to extreme lengths to eliminate the Jews throughout the Empire but his scheme was thwarted, largely as a result of his personal hatred for Mordecai the Jew. Ironically, Haman’s name is booed by the children in Synagogues every time it comes into the reading of the book of Esther at Purim, but there were still many people not of Haman’s blood throughout the Empire who attempted to eliminate the Jews on the given date even although Haman had already been executed.

            Imagine a clan whose whole reason for existence is to be outlaws; such as the MacGregors came to be in 17th Century Scotland. What to do with them? The choice for Clan Gregor was either death or take another name. There is a real attempt nowadays to rachet up the meaning of ‘genocide’ to include the elimination of a culture but sooner or later that sort of ‘dictionary creep’ is going to produce absurdity. (Like saying the elimination of female genital mutilation would be genocide.)

            Although it is undeniable that the Nazi ‘final solution’ attempt to eliminate the bloodline of the Jews is a greater crime against humanity than was, for example the forced conversion of the Western Sephardim, that is not to say that the lesser iniquity is justified by the existence of a greater. Similarly, I’m not sure that David’s elimination of entire Amalakite communities during his sojourn among the Philistines can be justified on the grounds of what later Amalakite raiders stole from him.



  11. KEVIN:

    “Personally I think the eternal torture part may be mistaken”

    Wow! Are you allowed to be selective?
    I thought it was an “all or nothing” thing and cherry-picking not permitted, (Sheesh, The Holy Church burnt ’em alive at the the stake for exactly that.)

    Methinks thou harboureth a few doubts … be very careful, Sir — down this road there be monsters.
    Now pop along to the local prayer-bar, shovel shekels into the collection buckets and we’ll say no more about it. Hell, you even get to pick brand of your own choice—but you can’t be wrong, any and all lead to Christ, God, and Paradise.


  12. All this endless debate about it and about … who the Hell cares? So long as we are all free to read whatever we like, say whatever we like, and act within a genuinely ‘human’ moral code? (Which means, Christians no more burning folks at the stake. It means, Islamists, leave little girls along until at least puberty or big enough to take your weight. And please, stop cutting people’s heads off.)
    It means, Others, go right ahead in Freedom but do NOT restrict my own freedoms in any way, or those of any other innocent.

    So if as a religionist (which one? There’s hundreds of them!) you want to spread your own ‘good word’ you are free to do so and I am as free to shoot down your unprovable (mostly indemonstrable) claims. No?

    Liked by 1 person

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