Did God Command Genocide?

GenocideAnyone who reads the Old Testament with 21st century Australian eyes will be confronted with a world completely alien to their own. The people, cultures, geographies, politics and religious practices of the Ancient Near East breed confusion for the modern reader. Perhaps most difficult to make sense of, however, is the deity who stands behind many of the stories. In the days of Noah, God drowns humanity in a great flood. Some time later, God erases Sodom and Gomorrah from the topography of the plain lands with a meteor shower of fire and brimstone. As troubling as these texts are, sceptics hone in on the Conquest of Canaan, where God supposedly commands the Israelites to annihilate 7 tribes inhabiting the promised land–men, women, children and livestock. Such stories raise difficult questions about God’s character, the Bible, and the moral status of religious violence. Is the Bible just another charter for holy war?

At a recent open forum at Ashgrove Baptist I addressed these and many other questions, garnering various responses from Christian tradition and contemporary scholarship, and offering a helpful framework for addressing the Old Testament’s trouble texts. Check out the talk here, Did God Command Genocide?

Big thanks to my RZIM colleague Dr Christian Hofreiter for permission to use his unpublished PhD framework.

 

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