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A Closer Look at Joshua

Joshua Commentary by Robert Hubbard

Seminary professor’s new commentary analyzes an Old Testament hero and the biblical book named after him

CHICAGO (June 4, 2009) – Robert Hubbard, professor of Old Testament at North Park Theological Seminary, says he would have titled his new commentary, “Surprised by Joshua.” But instead it is simply Joshua, after the Old Testament book of the same name. The volume is the latest installment in Zondervan's NIV Application Commentary Series.

“I was really surprised by how much the [Bible] emphasizes Joshua as a continuation of Moses,” says Hubbard, reflecting on the man himself. For example, Joshua copies the book of the law onto stone tablets and reads it to the people after they enter Canaan, not unlike Moses’ presentation of the Ten Commandments.

While the commentary emphasizes continuity, it also illustrates how Joshua adapted Moses’ commands to a new situation. “Joshua exemplifies the obligation to contextualize,” Hubbard notes. “He is being innovative. He’s not just slavishly following Moses.”

He adds that the biblical book is often is overlooked “because it has too much blood and guts.”

“It makes people uncomfortable. It raises too many ethical questions about war,” Hubbard explains. But he hopes the commentary will navigate through the battle scenes to see the larger ideas of the book.

“The principle of annihilation is superseded by God’s desire to draw close to people who are open to Him,” Hubbard says, pointing to the story of Rahab. She was among the people God commanded the children of Israel to destroy when they entered the land. But by helping the Israelite spies who initially visited Jericho, her life was spared.

The growth of Joshua as a leader and descriptions of the land are also important aspects addressed in the commentary.

Ironically, its publication almost didn’t happen. Hubbard said he had begun writing it, but stopped because he was frustrated by the constraints of the series’ format. Authors must divide the comments on each passage to three sections: Original Meaning, Bridging Contexts, and Contemporary Significance. Zondervan enlisted another scholar to write it, but after that author backed away, again turned to Hubbard to finish the commentary.

“I really felt a sense of call, which surprised me,” says Hubbard, who found he was able to adapt to the structure the second time around. “I did find that the format, while it was challenging, did not frustrate me,” he admits. “I found my own voice.”

Joshua will be released later this month but is now available for preorder at online retailers.