Reconstructing the formative years of the people of Israel is one of the most challenging tasks in Old Testament research. In this regard, the Book of Joshua has been a major focus of scholars for more than a generation.
Now Trent C. Butler has addressed the whole range of issues emerging from Joshua, from its earliest narratives, oral and written, to its textual history, both before and after its reception into the canon.
Dr. Butler combines his use of the tools of textual and literary analysis to provide a new perspective from which to appreciate the value of the Book of Joshua. From this new perspective, both the scholar and the minister receive valuable insights: The oral stages of the traditions, as Dr. Butler assesses them, "center on certain life and death questions for God's people as they seek to settle in the land and establish their grip on its territory." Then came the transformation into materials for worship, which "illustrate the mighty acts of God in continuing the work he began at the Exodus"-and which focus on priestly activity rather than on the role of the military conqueror. At the literary stage, the Compiler ties the materials together into a continuous narrative "that emphasizes the importance of a committed leader and a responsible people." In its final, canonical form, the text of Joshua "is a program for a life beyond the Jordan for a people who have lost the land and seek new hope . . . the exiles in Babylon."