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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.

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]