Joshua 1 & Introduction to the Series

Settlers and Anarchists: 
What Side Are We On?
Reading Joshua and Judges
Easter Season, 2018
Trinity UC Kitchener

Daily reading and reflection with audio
Easter Week April 1 to Pentecost week May 24
Pick up CDs at Trinity United on Church
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Download audio for Joshua 1-6 here
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Weekly live conversations at ‘The Garret’
Sundays 7-8:30pm (come to one, some, all)
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call (519) 998-8687 for access

Easter Day
April 1, 2018

Look, this is not from the academy or from the bureaucracy.  It’s proudly parochial, from a little local church with a typical pastor who last went to college 35 years ago.  We make no claim to objectivity, or great expertise, but this is our bible, too.   I try to name my privilege and prejudice, as an old WASP pastor.  What’s yours?

That doesn’t mean I blithely agree with evangelical co-religionists supportive of Israel and eager for Armageddon, nor am I a knee-jerk leftist glib trivial liberal.  I do weep again this weekend at news of renewed violence on Land Day, as Palestinians stuck in Gaza protest land grabs by ‘settlers’, and IDF covert violence becomes overt.  We’re the first generation in millennia to read bibles with a current state of Israel, aware of our most recent genocide, the Holocaust, and 50 years of ‘illegal occupation’ in Palestine.

Closer to home, my sect offered Apology in 1986 to First Nations, and added words over the decades which I doggedly repeat in worship.  We’re given clear direction by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (hereinafter TRC) and don’t act upon it either.  Yes, my people ran residential schools - and we still staff the police, health, education, and child / family services systems of Canada.  It is time now for us to re-read Torah, now Joshua, to find distinctive, parochial response.

When I started these daily readings again at Foothills in Calgary, in the fall of 2016, I took more time to outline why I chose Everett Fox’ translation of Torah in the Schocken Bible to read aloud for people to listen – even though they preferred their own more familiar bibles.

I’m doing this spring what I did that fall, and winter of 2017, with Genesis and Exodus, relying on Fox’ ear for orality, to offer a rendition of Joshua that is just enough strange to help you hear it again, as if for the first time.  If you want to revisit the longer rationale, click these links:

The primary source for this reading is “The Early Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings”, by Everett Fox, published by Schocken Books in 2014.  I haven’t done local church bible study on this stuff in more than a decade, when I called it ‘The Former Prophets’, but I look forward to how participants in weekly discussions here in Kitchener on Sunday evenings and Tuesday middays through Easter season 2018 will ‘read’ Joshua and Judge, as they ‘read’ people, and ‘read’ their world, and in some cases, have for decades ‘read’ bibles.

You can assume that I carry the same old bias toward Fernando Belo and Michel Clévenot’s Marxist materialist approach to scripture, reflected in turn in some old Latin American sources, all published by Orbis in the 1980’s.  My most worn commentary on Joshua is from the more mainline Anchor Bible series, published in 1982, by Robert G Boling and G.Ernest Wright.

In searches on or you may see that I do read some more current voices, like Catherine Keller in theology and hermeneutics, or Slavoj Zizek in updating Marxist and Christian discourse on the edge of philosophy.  In Lent, anticipating this season, I gleefully skimmed through ‘Psycholanalytic Mediations Between Marxist and Postcolonial Readings of the Bible’, from SBL Semeia series (#84) in 2016, edited by Tat-Siong Benny Liew and Erin Runions.

You might hope that I check my thoughts more often against Carolyn Pressler’s commentary from Westminster in 2002.  I have a copy close to hand of Michael Hattin’s commentary in the Maggid Studies in Tanakh – Stone Edition, published by the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Yeshivat Har Etzion, in 2014. 

In the end, we are not subject to academic or bureaucratic rules – but to the much tougher accountability of a parochial community of discourse.  How do you ‘read’ people, ‘read’ situations, ‘read’ reality?  The way we read our bibles together may inform it, and express it.  Don’t sue my congregation or denomination: they don’t agree either.