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Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem

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The challenge of a seemingly genocidal God who commands ruthless warfare has bewildered Bible readers for generations. The theme of divine war is not limited to the Old Testament historical books, however. It is also prevalent in the prophets and wisdom literature as well. Still it doesn’t stop. The New Testament book of Revelation, too, is full of such imagery. Our questions multiply.

  • Why does God apparently tell Joshua to wipe out whole cities, tribes or nations?
  • Is this yet another example of dogmatic religious conviction breeding violence?
  • Did these texts help inspire or justify the Crusades?
  • What impact do they have on Christian morality and just war theories today?
  • How does divine warfare fit with Christ?s call to “turn the other cheek”?
  • Why does Paul employ warfare imagery in his letters?
  • Do these texts warrant questioning the overall trustworthiness of the Bible?

These controversial yet theologically vital issues call for thorough interpretation, especially given a long history of misinterpretation and misappropriaton of these texts. This book does more, however. A range of expert contributors engage in a multidisciplinary approach that considers the issue from a variety of perspectives: biblical, ethical, philosophical and theological.

While the writers recognize that such a difficult and delicate topic cannot be resolved in a simplistic manner, the different threads of this book weave together a satisfying tapestry. Ultimately we find in the overarching biblical narrative a picture of divine redemption that shows the place of divine war in the salvific movement of God.

Key Features

  • Emphasizes the importance of an accurate understanding ofthe “holy war” texts
  • Examines the use of peace, violence, and warfare throughout Scripture
  • Addresses misuse and abuse of biblical texts


  • Part 1. The Challenge of Holy War for Christian Morality
  • Part 2. Old Testament Perspectives
  • Part 3. New Testament Perspectives
  • Part 4. Biblical-Theological Perspectives
  • Part 5. Ethical Philosophical Perspectives
  • Part 6. Theological Perspectives
  • Part 7. Afterword


  • Geth Allison
  • Alan S. Bandy
  • Stephen B. Chapman
  • Paul Copan
  • Douglas Earl
  • Jeremy Evans
  • Matthew Flannagan
  • Timothy G. Gombis
  • Daniel R. Heimbach
  • David T. Lamb
  • Reid Powell
  • Murray Rae
  • Glen H. Stassen
  • Robert B. Stewart
  • Heath A. Thomas
  • Stephen N. Williams

Praise for the Print Edition

The articles, on the whole, are in dialogue with salient scholarship, and the footnotes will serve as fertile ground for additional research. . . . the book moves the discussion forward.

—William L. Lyons, Theological Studies, Vol. 75, no. 3

While God does not need to be rescued from false caricatures, his followers do need reinforcements to withstand the faith-shaking attacks from New Atheists and others. This book provides helpful biblical, historical, theological, and philosophical reinforcements.

—Stephen J. Lennox, Bulletin for Biblical Research, 24.2

This is an excellent resource for the scholar, student, pastor, or Bible student who seeks to know more about the concept of holy war in the Bible.

—Matthew James Hamilton, Bible Study Magazine, September/October 2013

Product Details

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

About the Editors

Heath A. Thomas (PhD, University of Gloucestershire, UK) is assistant professor of Old Testament & Hebrew at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He also serves on the editorial board for the Southeastern Theological Review and as the book review editor.

Jeremy Evans (PhD, Texas A&M University) is associate professor of philosophy at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He is coauthor of Taking Christian Moral Thought Seriously.

Paul Copan (PhD, Marquette University) is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. His books include The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas, An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, Creation Out of Nothing, Did God Really Command Genocide? and Holy War in the Bible. He previously served with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and taught at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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    Digital list price: $34.99
    Save $16.00 (45%)

    Almost funded