Does The Bible Sufficiently Describe The Conquest? -- By: Dean R. Ulrich

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 020:1 (Spring 1999)
Article: Does The Bible Sufficiently Describe The Conquest?
Author: Dean R. Ulrich


Does The Bible Sufficiently Describe The Conquest?

Dean R. Ulrich

Dean R. Ulrich is Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Wexford, Pennsylvania.

In his book The Sufficiency of Scripture, Noel Weeks discusses a number of modern objections to the authority of the Bible. Some people have tried to limit the scope of biblical authority to the religious realm, while others have even questioned whether the Bible can serve as an authority in religion and ethics. According to Weeks, the fact that the Bible is not a textbook, providing exhaustive detail on any issue, lies at the heart of such objections to its authority. Weeks aims to refute the argument from incompleteness.1

One area where the Bible evidences incompleteness is its historiography. While every historian selects facts and unavoidably interprets them, the Bible’s theological interpretation of ancient Israelite history especially violates the positivistic canons of modern historiography.2 Consequently, modern scholarship has denigrated the historical value of biblical narratives. In his treatment of this subject, Weeks reduces the debate over the reliability of biblical historiography to a conflict of sources—discrepancies between the Bible and extra-biblical sources, discrepancies between one biblical book and another, and discrepancies within a given biblical book.3 Although Weeks deals with several examples of each conflict, he understandably does not examine every example. Surprisingly, however, he never mentions the historical problems connected with the biblical account of the Conquest. Variations of all three of the above conflicts have appeared in previous analyses of the Conquest narratives. This essay will summarize each of the conflicts as it applies to the Conquest and suggest resolutions that uphold the sufficiency of Scripture.

I. Discrepancies between the Biblical Account of the Conquest and Archaeology

According to the biblical or traditional account of the Conquest, Israel entered the promised land from without and proceeded to annihilate the resident peoples. Rather than being motivated by savage imperialism, the tribes served as YHWH’s juridical agent against the Amorites, whose cup of iniquity had overflowed (Gen 15:16). YHWH had commanded Israel to practice the ban, i.e., a total devotion of the Amorite states to destruction (Deut 7:1–5). The OT places the Conquest at the end of the fifteenth century (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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