Joshua’s Conquest of Jericho and Ai – a Historical Account?

Dwelling foundations unearthed at Tell es-Sultan in Jericho
Dwelling foundations unearthed at Tell es-Sultan in Jericho. Photo source: Wikipedia.

It is often argued that the biblical account of Joshua’s conquest of Jericho and Ai is nothing more than historical fiction. So it is very refreshing to come across a cogent argument for its historicity as John M. Monson does in his controbution to Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith, edited by James K. Hoffmeier and Dennis R. Magary. Monson provides a brief summary of the debate over the archaeology of the area before presenting a plausible explanation which attempts to do justice both to the biblical text and to the available archaeological evidence.

James K. Hoffmeier & Dennis R. Magary, eds., Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?: A Critical Appraisal of Modern and Postmodern Approaches to Scripture. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2012.

He concludes:

…it is clear that when geographical analysis is added to the study of Israel’s entry into Canaan, and when archaeological data (which remains partial and inconsistent) is prevented from being the final arbiter of all things historical, the most plausible and understandable reconstruction is that the biblical text reflects actual events of the Israelite arrival in Late Bronze Age Canaan. The burden of proof lies with those who would deconstruct these stories or find some alternate explanation for this expansive, geographically focused account. [p.452]

Crossway Books have kindly granted permission for the chapter the chapter to be hosted on this website.

John M. Monson, “Enter Joshua. The “Mother of Current Debates in Biblical Archaeology,” James K. Hoffmeier & Dennis R. Magary, eds., Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?: A Critical Appraisal of Modern and Postmodern Approaches to Scripture. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2012. Pbk. ISBN: 978-4335-2571-1. pp.427-457. [Click to download the chapter in PDF]

Redating the Exodus and Conquest by John J. Bimson

Both my wife and I remember reading John Bimson’s groundbreaking book Redating the Exodus and Conquest when we were studying theology. So I was delighted when Dr Bimson granted me permission to make his book freely available on-line. I hope that a new generation of Bible students will find it as helpful as we did.

John J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus and Conquest, 2nd edn. Sheffield: The Almond Press, 1981. Pbk. ISBN: 0907459048. pp.288. Download in PDF.

John J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus and Conquest

“The Bible points to a date for the Exodus in the 15th Century B.C. and the archaeological evidence, as interpreted by Bimson, corresponds very closely to, the biblical chronology. Dr. Bimson argues forcefully and with great clarity (as well as in considerable detail) for his theory which runs counter to current scholarly opinion.”

– Journal of Jewish Studies

“By advancing a plausible alternative hypothesis, the book demonstrates that those who hold to a thirteenth century exodus-conquest have no monopoly on the archaeological evidence.” – Journal of Biblical Literature

“The author includes a full chapter on Jericho as an index of Conquest chronological data and correctly concludes that its evidence is now ambiguous. Most enlightening is a long chapter on bi<;hrome ware and ceramic chronology in which he asserts convincingly that ceramics shatters the case for a late
Conquest… A fine piece of work.” – Bibliotheca Sacra

“The section on Bichrome Ware should be mandatory reading for anyone dealing in pottery.”  -Orientalia

“Both the problem it addresses and the style it follows make the book of interest to a wider audience. Bimson calls for a reevaluation of the archaeological shift from middle to late Bronze Age in Palestine … In a day when the traditional archaeological support for a thirteenth century unified invasion of Canaan is increasingly under fire, Bimson offers a fresh look at an old and often ignored alternative.” – Christianity Today