Clarifications and Conclusions of the Conflict Myth in Joshua (Part IV)

This is the final post of a short series examining the conflict myth in Joshua 6-7. If you have not read the first three posts, click here: Part I, Part II, and Part III.

This post will discussion clarifications of previously discussed information and conclusions of why acknowledgement of the conflict myth in Joshua is important for the modern reader.

Clarifications

Previously, I used the term “legitimize”, for which I now offer a definition of my usage: to justify a certain ideological stance in order to show people reason for the superiority of one ideology over another. As for the secondary application, it has less to do with aligning oneself to the victorious deity in the conflict myth. Rather, it has more to do with recognizing that people are victorious politically, or should be, because the deity defeated the alternate power structure which threatened some sort of order.

Additionally, in Part II, I noted that Psalm 106 has God act towards the Sea in a manner similar to the conflict myth. The emphasis of the Psalm is to legitimize God via the conflict myth. “Sea” is not intended to represent Pharaoh as the alternate power structure.

Conclusions

Now that I have briefly analyzed Joshua in the previous passages, I shall briefly conclude about the implications for the modern reader. As noted in Part I, readers often understand Joshua as genocide. Yet from the dimension of divine conflict, it is evident that the killing of people at, for example, Jericho was not an issue of God demanding blood. In fact it is likely that much of Joshua occurred significantly differently than written due to the historiographical nature of Joshua. Similarly, Ai was a failed invasion because of the denial of God’s rule, which is too a certain extent rooted in the conflict myth.

Thus ideological legitimization of the order which God oversees is the intention. In clearer terms, the conflict myth’s presence within Joshua is a sort of ancient propaganda. And within an ancient context, such warfare was not morally or ethically wrong. So to a certain extent, the ideology propagated and legitimized by the divine conflict myth in Joshua is akin to modern propaganda which does not consider warfare ethical or moral. Of course, many may not consider places which contain “propaganda” to be propaganda (cf. ABC, CNN, Fox News, and NBC).

In essence, because Joshua is very focused on ideological legitimization, with the conflict myth as a dimension of its strategy, one may appreciate Joshua in a new light.

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One thought on “Clarifications and Conclusions of the Conflict Myth in Joshua (Part IV)

  1. I pretty much agree with your conclusions. Slaughtering the entire population of a city was not generally done. The conqueror rarely had the sword-power to effect such a drastic undertaking. But, rhetorically (which I prefer over “propaganda”, although either way comes to a similar result), the total destruction carries a lot more impact than some lesser fate. This is where being too literal can cause problems, but I understand literalness is a theological position. Point being, a good sequence of posts, and good conclusions. Not the only ones possible, but well-grounded on the source material.

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