Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, Old Testament Studies PhD

First Advisor

William H. Shea

Second Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Third Advisor

J. Bjornar Storfjell


Problem. It has been suggested that the biblical account of the Israelite conquest of Canaan and the archaeological data are incompatible. This study evaluates the five main Israelite settlement theories and reevaluates the Book of Joshua as it relates to archaeology.

Method. Chapter 1 surveys the five archaeological theories of the Israelite emergence in Canaan. Chapter 2 critiques each theory. Chapter 3 examines the Book of Joshua from an archaeological and thematic perspective. Chapter 4 highlights presuppositions that have been brought to the archaeological data and the Book of Joshua. Chapter 5 uses the discussions of chapters 2, 3, and 4 to identify the main issues in the relationship between archaeology and the Book of Joshua. Chapter 6 summarizes the study's conclusions.

Results. This study demonstrates that each of the settlement theories has weaknesses. By misapplying the Book of Joshua and selectively using archaeological materials, each theory has created a false construct.

The archaeology of sites connected to the Book of Joshua provides little evidence that can be related to that book, while the Book of Joshua itself provides few specific details useful to archaeologists. This situation has been interpreted to mean that the Book of Joshua is unhistorical. This study has determined that archaeology and the Book of Joshua are unique theories that rarely intersect.

Conclusion. The central purpose of the Book of Joshua is confirmation of the presence and power of YHWH when the Israelites entered Canaan. Its theme is not conquest, but rather confirmation of YHWH.

Archaeology has been seen as an objective measure of the truthfulness of the historical statements of the Book of Joshua. Archaeology, rather than being objective data, is itself, like the Book of Joshua, a theology proposed by its presenters. This study supports the view that the lack of evidence for destructions mentioned in the Book of Joshua is not the same as evidence.

If the archaeological data and the Book of Joshua are allowed a wide spectrum of interpretation, they are compatible. It is simplistic assumptions about the Book of Joshua and archaeology that are incompatible.

Subject Area

Jews--History--To 1200 B.C., Bible. Old Testament--Antiquities, Bible. Joshua--Criticism, interpretation, etc

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