About the author:
Dr. Gregory Beale is Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.
Last year P&R published this little book as part of its Christian Answers to Hard Questions series. It is only 48 pages, but in our judgment it will be perhaps the most useful handling of the subject on your bookshelf. Beale’s handling of the question is largely unique, and although so brief it is comprehensively and convincing. So we thought our members would enjoy having this “bonus” summary.
Skeptics have long charged that the Old Testament commands of God to exterminate the Canaanites, as well as the imprecatory Psalms, reveal an inconsistency on the part of God that is not in keeping with the morality he himself is said to require. How can we justify his command to the Israelites to annihilate whole people groups — non-combatants, women, children, all?
Some attempts to answer the question have been offered that Beale finds to be less than completely satisfying, and he recites them briefly. Most would acknowledge that there is a “wartime ethic” that stretches the normal bounds of justice, but even the extenuating circumstances of war do not account for the intentional extensiveness of the commands God gives to the Israelites concerning the Canaanites. So also, even if these commands were not to be understood literally, details remain that such considerations simply cannot handle. And in any case, it certainly appears that the commands were intended to be taken (at least essentially) literally. This latter suggestion
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The Morality Of God In The Old Testament