Destruction of the Canaanites: God, Genocide, and Biblical Interpretation
Talbot School of Theology
How can a good God command genocide?
In this short, accessible offering, Charlie Trimm provides the resources needed to make sense of one of the Bible’s most difficult ethical problems—the Israelite destruction of the Canaanites as told in the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges.
Trimm begins with a survey of important background issues, including the nature of warfare in the ancient Near East, the concept of genocide (with perspectives gleaned from the field of genocide studies), and the history and identity of the Canaanite people. With this foundation in place, he then introduces four possible approaches to reconciling biblical violence:
- Reevaluating God—concluding that God is not good.
- Reevaluating the Old Testament—concluding that the Old Testament is not actually a faithful record of God’s actions.
- Reevaluating the interpretation of the Old Testament—concluding that the Old Testament does not in fact describe anything like genocide.
- Reevaluating the nature of violence in the Old Testament—concluding that the mass killing of the Canaanites in the Old Testament was permitted on that one occasion in history.
The depth of material provided in concise form makes Trimm’s book ideal as a supplementary textbook or as a primer for any Christian perturbed by the stories of the destruction of the Canaanites in the Old Testament.
Violence in the Bible; Genocide -- Biblical teaching
Trimm, Charlie (2022). Destruction of the Canaanites: God, Genocide, and Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.