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'Power' and 'the Other' in Joshua: The Brutal Birthing of a Group Identity

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In a world marked by war, terrorism and ethnic cleansing, reading violent biblical writings such as the Book of Joshua has become problematic. This study probes the phenomenology of violence in Joshua in the light of analyses of state-instigated genocide by contemporary social and political scientists. With the aid of African scholar Mahmood Mamdani the cultural, economic and political group identity of Joshua's Israelites and their stigmatization of 'the other' is investigated. Then, with the help of studies on violence in Indonesia (Colombijn & Lindblad, 2002) where the author lives, the essay outlines seven missiological questions concerning the dynamics of brutality and the issue of 'power'. The contemporary reader may not be that distant from the mind-set of Joshua and, perhaps unconsciously, is engaged in prejudicial categorizing. Only after facing uncomfortable facts and our own ingrained fear can reconciliation move forward. Reading Joshua forces us to re-assess our place in our strife-torn world.


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