John Walton – The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest

Episode: Matt L & Dru try to find the Lost world of the Israelite Conquest with John Walton, of Wheaton College, and they give it their best. This discussion dips into the various provocative claims of John’s book, but also manages to cover important items like John’s response to sombreroed penguins, good novels, and counting one’s steps to ensure the closest route between two points. If you’ve ever wrestled with the ethics or theology of the conquest story, tune in.

Guest: John Walton is Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, IL. John works at the intersection of biblical and ancient Near Eastern studies. He is the author of numerous monographs and commentaries, including the NIV Application Commentary on Genesis, the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary on Genesis, and the IVP ‘Lost World’ series, including The Lost World of Genesis 1: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and The Human Origins Debate, and is co-author (with his son J. Harvey Walton) of the book under discussion today, The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest: Convenant, Retribution, and the Fate of the Canaanites (IVP, 2017).

Book: (From the Publisher’s Site) Holy warfare is the festering wound on the conscience of Bible-believing Christians. Of all the problems the Old Testament poses for our modern age, this is the one we want to avoid in mixed company.

But do the so-called holy war texts of the Old Testament portray a divinely inspired genocide? Did Israel slaughter Canaanites at God’s command? Were they enforcing divine retribution on an unholy people? These texts shock us. And we turn the page. But have we rightly understood them?

In The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, John Walton and J. Harvey Walton take us on an archaeological dig, excavating the layers of translation and interpretation that over time have encrusted these texts and our perceptions. What happens when we take new approaches, frame new questions? When we weigh again their language and rhetoric? Were the Canaanites punished for sinning against the covenanting God? Does the Hebrew word herem mean “devote to destruction”? How are the Canaanites portrayed and why? And what happens when we backlight these texts with their ancient context?

The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest keenly recalibrates our perception and reframes our questions. While not attempting to provide all the answers, it offers surprising new insights and clears the ground for further understanding.

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4 Replies to “John Walton – The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest”

  1. Nance

    Hi! I listened to this episode recently, and there was a brief mention of a theologian (first name “Egypt”?) whose worked overlapped with some of Dr. Walton’s thoughts. A ‘status quo that is ideal’… I was just trying to figure out who that was you were discussing. Thanks!

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