What is the Big Deal about the Land of Canaan?

As I am studying and teaching Joshua and Judges this year (which is a serious, but welcome, challenge for a NT researcher!), I have wondered, time and time again, why the promise and acquisition of land is so important to the Old Testament. What makes Joshua so central to the OT? Why is Deuteronomy so fixated on Israel’s land-grant from Yahweh?

There are, no doubt, many answers. Perhaps the most profound one, theologically speaking, has to do with the “incarnation” principle behind it. Note these scholarly ruminations:

Yhwh chose to create humanity in bodily form and thus relates to Israel in a way that involves land and is not merely a matter of the spiritual, moral or theological (Goldingay, OTT1, 512)

Israel’s faith insistently focused on the material, on the real, lived circumstance of life in the world. It is this focus that distinguishes Israel’s faith from many other religions that move in the direction of “spiritual” matters removed from lived reality (Bruce Birch et al., A Theological Introduction to the OT, 176)

Amen and amen.

Justification: Five Views (IVP)

Be on the lookout at SBL for the latest volume in the “Spectrum Multiview” Series from IVP: Justification: Five Views edited by Beilby, Eddy, and Enderlein. What are the “big five”?

Traditional Reformed (Michael H0rton)

Progressive Reformed (Mike Bird)

New Perspective (James Dunn)

Theosis/Deification (V-M Karkkainen)

Roman Catholic (Gerland O’Collins and Oliver Rafferty)

I love these books, produced so well, offering conversational tone (like hearing a lecture) and seeing scholars interact and engage. In the past some of the engagements have been brutal and cruel. I dearly hope to see an irenic spirit in this book. Certainly Dunn and Bird and known for this. This book is officially on my “wishlist”!