Knowing when a book was written and who wrote it can help us understand the contents of the book. We don’t have the luxury of knowing these things about the book of Joshua from the Bible. We have traditions that tell us who might have written it, but there is nothing definitive. The Bible itself doesn’t even tell us who wrote it.
When it was written is a little bit of a mystery as well. It describes events that most historians say didn’t happen. However, we’ve determined that there was a group of people in Canaan by around 1200 BC because the name for these people, Israel, appears on a stele that dates from around that time. So though we’ve yet to empirically prove that the Israelites took Canaan by force as described in Joshua, we do know they did come to occupy and live in Canaan by 1200 BC, we just don’t have any copies of Joshua that date to this time.
The oldest known copies we have were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, and they date to somewhere around 250 BC to 70 AD. Scholars generally agree that Joshua wasn’t compiled and recorded in its present form until after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. However, there are hints in the text itself that indicate the book is much older, perhaps just a few years removed from the events in the book. No matter when the book was compiled, we know these stories must have been handed down to succeeding generations orally, just as the Israelites were commanded to do.
And we covered Moses and Joshua in previous episodes, but today we talk about another prominent character, the LORD. The LORD’s involvement cannot be overlooked. Indeed, he’s really the center of our story.
I hope you enjoy episode three. Thank you for listening and bearing with me as I tweak the format and the audio. Be strong and courageous. Have I not commanded you?