The EBTC series has picked up speed since Lexham took it over and this latest release by David Firth is another quality commentary. The historical books of the Old Testament are clearly the forte of Mr. Firth as he has already produced a major commentary on 1 & 2 Samuel, shorter commentaries on Joshua and Esther, and a volume in the NSBT on Ruth. All were successful. In this, his second stab at Joshua, he got the chance to take a deeper dive.
The first 30 pages have a somewhat traditional introduction that you might find in any major commentary. To be honest, this was not especially the strength of this work. Sometimes he only addressed a few viewpoints and even said there wasn’t space to address them further. Perhaps that had something to do with the constraints of the series, but I am not sure. As he had done in his earlier work, he argued that the violence in Joshua is not as extensive as most think. The rest of the introductory material was somewhat pedestrian.
It was in the next section where this commentary truly flourished. Here he addressed biblical and theological themes and showed his ability to write a commentary with a theological focus. He covered faithfulness and obedience, identity of the people of God, Joshua and Jesus, land as God’s gift, leadership, power and government, rest, and the promise of God. It was in this section that you had a real introduction to what Joshua is about. I can’t imagine a better overview for the theology you’re going to encounter for the whole book.
In the commentary proper, it only got better. His skills as an exegete joined with his newly discovered trait as a theologian made for some awesome commentary. What was impressive to me was the depth of observation. In each passage he had a section entitled “context”that truly set the stage for what you were reading before he broke out into his detailed exegesis. Next, in a section entitled “bridge”, he tied all the loose ends together and brought the theology out into the brightest day. Along the way, he succeeded in delivering the goods on the stated objective of this series.
There might be a few commentaries that outdo this one in some categories, but this is the work for theology in Joshua.
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