Matt and Kenny discussed passages in the Old Testament like the flood and the conquest of Canaan, that on the surface contain moments of troubling violence. But Matt contends that a closer and slower reading of passages like these can actually reveal a critique of violence and show us more of the goodness and mercy of God. We hope this episode will help bring some clarity to some of the difficult questions raised when we read the Old Testament, particularly in light of the God we see revealed in Jesus Christ.
My review of Crucifixion of the Warrior God focused thus far on Boyd’s overarching approach to the problem of violence in the Old Testament. The review has been selective, but identified what I consider several large-scale opportunities and problems with his approach.
In this final review post, I focus on Boyd’s approach to the book of Joshua. Often considered the crux interpretum for anyone attempting to wrestle with the problem of violence, I felt it important to see how he actually reads this portion of Scripture, and whether his ‘cruciform thesis’ provides a way forward.
After reviewing and critiquing Paul Copan’s Is God a Moral Monster? and finding it unsatisfactory (rightly, in my view, pp. 917-960), Boyd turns to his alternative cruciform approach to Joshua. To restate the problem Boyd sees: The story of divinely mandated merciless slaughter of men, women, children, and animals is incommensurate with the portrait of Jesus’ non-violent response to his enemies and his command that his followers treat enemies the same.
Boyd’s primary thesis regarding Joshua is that God originally gave a non-violent promise to Israel that he would gradually displace the Canaanites. We’ll call that ‘Plan A.’ This promise was subsequently mis-interpreted (perhaps willingly) as a command to violently exterminate the Cnaanites. We’ll call that ‘Plan B.’
Plan A: Non-Violent Displacement
There is ample biblical support for Plan A. Note the following example:
‘I will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you … little by little’ (Exod 23:20-33).
Other texts in the Pentateuch, and even Joshua, repeat the idea that Yahweh would gradually displace the Canaanite population before the Israelites (Exod 33:2; 34:11; Lev 22:23; Num 32:21-22; Deut 4:38; Josh 24:11-12). And no text suggests that the gradual displacement would be an alternative if a Blitzkrieg slaughter failed. Instead, the Pentateuch repeatedly suggests that the conquest would involve forced resettlement. Moreover, Yahweh alone would drive the Canaanites out by making the land inhospitable to them such that it ‘vomits’ them out (Lev 18:24-25).
Boyd suggests that this earlier plan was both non-violent and Yahweh’s ideal (p. 971). He considers this part of the story a ‘direct’ revelation because it coheres with the image of Jesus’ non-violent response to enemies on the cross.
Plan B: ‘Giving the Canaanites Over’ to Israelite Violence
However, as often occurs, the people didn’t hear or heed what Yahweh commanded. Instead, they adopted a ‘culturally conditioned assumption’ that Yahweh wanted them to acquire the land through violence (p. 973). Thus the claim that God told them to ‘eliminate’ the Canaanites ‘all at once’ (Deut 7:22), which appears to flatly contradict the idea of God displacing the Canaanites ‘little by little’ (Exod 20:33). This extermination plan is an indirect revelation, since it is both culturally conditioned and not what God said.
The cross, for Boyd, not only guides our choice of what constitutes a direct revelation (Plan A) vs. an indirect revelation (Plan B); it also gives us a specific indication of ‘what else is going on.’
Here we return to Boyd’s idea that when faced with a text that does not cohere with the non-violence of the cross, we must nevertheless treat such texts as revelations of ‘something else’ that the text only hints at. In other words, the interpreter is to reconstruct from Plan B-type texts a scenario that looks like the cross.
Thus with confidence Boyd hypothesizes that the Israelites distorted Yahweh’s initial word—his Plan A. Like Jesus’ disciples, Moses and the Israelites listened selectively to Yahweh’s commands, opting for violence. They then ‘conceive[d] of God along the lines of a typical ANE warrior deity’ (p. 980). Whereas God had originally planned to displace the Canaanites non-violently, now via Plan B God gives them over to Israelite violence by withdrawing his protective presence. The story of Joshua preserves traces of both plans.
In Boyd’s ‘what’s really going on’ scenario, he attempts to stick as close as possible to the biblical text. I appreciated this dimension of his work, as well as his close reading of Brueggemann on Joshua 11 (see pp. 986-1002). Several aspects of his thesis deserve attention here.
For Boyd, Plan A reflects ‘what we would expect’ a cruciform hermeneutic to yield. A non-violent displacement of Canaanites squares with Jesus’ non-violent treatment of his enemies. In this story of displacement, we discern the Spirit ‘breaking through’ and bearing witness to the way of the cross.
Displacement is Not Non-Violent
However, it is difficult to see how his displacement scenario paves a road to Calvary—especially as Boyd understands Calvary. He states that God’s plan was ‘to make this region so unpleasant with hornets that the indigenous population will voluntarily relocate themselves’ (p. 966). Rendering the land inhospitable due to insects would have inflicted widespread damage and death to the indigenous populations. Moreover, it would have thrust the Canaanites into the hands of their inhospitable neighbours, precipitating significant conflict. In short, displacement is not as non-violent as it sounds.
Embracing Enemies & Plan A
Moreover, I don’t see how displacing enemies (Plan A) fits at all with Jesus’ act of embracing his enemies on the cross. If God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor 5:19), even Plan A would need to be re-interpreted to bear witness to the cross. The inhospitable land thesis seems to fly in the face of the ‘hospitality of the cross,’ to use Hans Boersma’s phrase. To this end, Boyd’s approach shows signs of stress. His hermeneutical principle of ‘conservation’ requires him to salvage as much of the text as possible, yet even the texts he salvages rarely meet the standards he sets.
I don’t think this is a problem with the biblical story, per se, but rather a problem with Boyd’s approach of squeezing each text until it submits and confesses to things that match exactly his reconstructed picture of the cross. This approach flattens the biblical text into a series of direct and indirect ‘literary crucifixes,’ such that each OT text only ever confirms what we already know from the cross. It flashes pictures of God from one moment in time.
Other Potential in Joshua
Boyd covers a wide range of material in his 1,400-page book. For a 1,400-page book on OT violence to spend only about 50 pages on Joshua is a missed opportunity. Granted, he’s dealing with quite a few texts. Indeed, the book is full of biblical references and specific examples. However, it seems to me that Joshua is the case for any theory of violence in the Old Testament, and for there to be almost no discussion of the Rahab-Achan story, very little discussion of the ways that Joshua was actually re-applied non-literally within the Old Testament itself (e.g., during Josiah’s reign), hardly any investigation of ways that the herem (ban) instructions resist easy literalization, no attention to the possible post-exilic setting of Joshua in its final form, and much more. In all these ways, Joshua and the ongoing OT traditions engage in re-framing and critiquing the book’s surface violence in ways that Boyd misses. While Boyd engages in a close reading of Joshua 11, and to good effect, I expected to see a more nuanced treatment of the whole book.
In sum, Boyd’s Crucifixion of the Warrior God will likely engage interpreters for years to come, and will have significant impact via his popularized Cross Vision. I highly recommend that students of the Bible engage Boyd’s book, if for no other reason than to look the problem of violence squarely in the face. However, I doubt Boyd’s book will win the day, even for Christians willing to engage in ethical critique of the Old Testament. Boyd’s book ultimately drives readers into the same untenable position as the interpreter who says, ‘There’s no problem here.’ Both propose a total solution to an intractable problem. Both leave readers vulnerable to that one small crack in the glass that splinters a thousand ways and eventually shatters the whole.
Worship as Warfare
The book of Chronicles tells of a story where King Jehoshaphat of Judah faced an enemy coalition of some 2 million soldiers, or just a few shy of modern China’s active military. The story is clearly engaging in some hyperbole, since the size of this army alone is well beyond all human population estimates for this time. The author is painting something larger than life, with the odds stacked against Judah. The central questions driving the narrative appear in Jehoshaphat’s desperate prayer in the courtyard of the temple: ‘Are you not God in heaven? … Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel?’ Based on God’s actions in Joshua, Jehoshaphat builds to his point: ‘O God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless.’ (2 Chr 20:6-12).
The inflated imagery in this story suggests that the story-teller isn’t doing historical realism. He’s using impressionism or cubism. The artist is accentuating the staggering odds, Judah’s powerlessness, and most importantly, the location. This prayer took place at the temple, the very place where Solomon had said (1 Kgs 8) that Israel should come if they ever faced trouble.
A Levitical temple singer then arose to prophesy:
This battle is not for you to fight; take your positions, stand still, and see the victory of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem (2 Chr 20:17).
The ensuing scene is almost comical. The army still goes out … but only to watch. They proceed as if going to battle, when in reality, they were play-acting. By the time they reached them, their enemies had already turned on and killed each other.
But though the army had no role, the Levitical Priests took center stage. Their special duty was to accompany Yahweh into battle and announce his arrival. In the past, the Levites would have carried Yahweh’s ark, or throne. Throne or standard-bearing was a common motif in ancient Near Eastern warfare.
Since the ark had already ‘come to rest’ in the Temple (a major theme in Chronicles), the Levites went forth instead as singers. Their praises formed a veritable throne for Yahweh as he went forth to fight for his people. This concept is likely behind the psalmist’s claim that Yahweh is ‘enthroned on the praises of Israel’ (Ps 22:3). Rather than the ark, the priests bore Yahweh into battle on the praises of Israel.
At the beginning of this battle against the 2 million, the singers were silent … until that crucial moment, when with the army in position, the Levites lifted their song. Chronicles’ account is stunning:
At the moment they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed (2 Chr 20:22).
Praise seems to effect something powerful here. It’s as if praise is the storm-cloud in which Yahweh comes against the enemy. Chronicles emphasizes the co-ordination between singing and Yahweh’s visitation. In the previous verse, Jehoshaphat appointed the Levites to literally ‘praise (his) holy theophany,’ or dramatic visitation. As they sang, Yahweh came in power (cf. 2 Chr 5:13). In sum, this post-exilic story paints the image of a God who achieves victory over the enemy, accompanied by the praise of the powerless.
Joshua and the Liturgy of Jericho
We have strong indications that parts of Joshua were edited during the post-exilic period, during the same time that the Chronicler was writing. Though they probably weren’t study buddies, the Chronicler and the post-exilic editor of Joshua share a concern for highlighting the priestly dimensions of warfare. Priests probably highlighted and clarified an earlier edition of Joshua (a ‘Deuteronomistic’ edition, in scholarly parlance) that already put a strong emphasis on the Levites.
It’s not surprising, then, that the story of Jericho lands smack dab in the middle of the book’s account of entering the land. Elsewhere, the book flies through the battle accounts in chs. 10-12 without much specificity. But for Jericho (and Ai), the tempo slows … almost to a snail’s pace … or perhaps better, to the metronome of a Levitical procession.
Joshua 3-6 reads like a liturgical procession. It takes two whole chapters for Israel to process across the Jordan, stopping at each significant site to mark it for later re-enactment. If there’s a main character here, it’s the ark. Mentioned some 24x in these chapters, the ark is without doubt the narrator’s preoccupation. There’s a kind of mesmerizing effect as the ark proceeds before the people before they crossed the Jordan. They were forbidden to approach it within 3,000 feet, and they couldn’t move until it moved. The assumption is that Yahweh’s presence was so dangerous and unapproachable that the people needed to stand back, much as they would related to his presence in the Tabernacle itself:
As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” 5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” (Josh 3:3-5)
The actual battle at Jericho begins and ends at Gilgal, one of Israel’s oldest and most significant places of worship, and all along the way, it marks the priestly procession with stones used for an altar. Leading this 7-day ceremony are the priests, who carry the ark before the people. The 7 day pattern of walking around the city (Josh 6) recalls the 7-day Passover celebration in Joshua 3-4, and the distinctive 6+1 rhythm of the Jericho liturgy recalls the 6+1 story of creation. Not surprisingly, on that 7th holy day, when the city was finally encircled 7 times and destroyed, all of its valuables were given over (as herem, or sacred offering) to the sanctuary, God’s resting place (Josh 6:24).
As in the story from 2 Chronicles 20, the people were accompanying Yahweh into the land, but were in essence standing back in worshipful reverence to watch him win a victory. And like the story in 2 Chronicles 20, the Priests and people remain silent until they unveil—or proclaim—their secret weapon. The people burst forth with shouting and trumpet blasts, but Yahweh is the real actor in the story. Their joyful shout joins the priestly trumpet blast that announces Yahweh’s arrival in the city. In sum, Yahweh achieves his victory amidst the priestly procession and celebration of his people, and culminates in an offering to the sanctuary.
Implications for Considering Violence in Joshua
In the last post I explained how the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua and Kings ‘re-frame’ extermination commands in terms of differentiation. Interpretive shifts were already under way that dislodged the story of conquest from any essential association with genocide. Whether this was for reasons of moral discomfort or what we cannot be sure. But the effect is the same. The story of herem warfare was understood to mean: Don’t cavort with idolatrous nations, and even more importantly, remain true to the Torah.
I want to tentatively propose another similar shift taking place within Joshua. I’m calling it a priestly re-framing, from warfare to liturgy. Joshua is ‘liturgizing’ an earlier story of conquest, with Yahweh’s lone military action in the foreground and Israel’s participation in worship as the accompaniment.
Like Chronicles, Joshua is hyperbolizing (not falsifying! Is Monet falsifying the water lilies?) its historical sources in order to make important theological points. This is a non-controversial claim. Lawson Younger detailed the many ways that Joshua’s conquest rhetoric participates in standard ancient Near Eastern warfare rhetoric, where ‘putting to the sword everything that breathes’ basically meant, ‘winning a victory,’ and everyone knew it. I’m suggesting further that Joshua is also participating in a broader biblical pattern of liturgizing warfare—i.e., (a.) heightening the drama of divine victory, (b.) downplaying or completely eliminating any meaningful human contribution to the victory, and (c.) heightening the significance of the worship system within the battle scene. This sets the stage, I suggest, for the reception of such stories in worship settings for a totally different purpose, namely, to celebrate the power of Yahweh effected in the praise of his people.
The effect of this liturgizing was to render an older story of conquest meaningful for a people whose land had been effectively taken away. The returnees from exile, who most likely put the finishing touches on the book of Joshua, were but a powerless and vulnerable people in the land. They had no standing army, no king, few defenses, and little political clout. But they did have a temple. They did have priests. So when they looked back on their history to ask, where is the powerful God of the past in our day? they answer, He’s present in our worship. Therein lies our strength.
According to Joshua, Israel’s army was never its source of strength. It was ‘not with your sword or with your bow,’ Joshua later reminds the people (Josh 24:12). Rather, it was the God enthroned in the praises of Israel who defeats the enemy. He was the one who ‘ordained praise from the mouths of infants, to silence the foe and the avenger’ (Ps 8:2).
So while Joshua could be read in such a way that warfare is seen as a form of worship, I’m suggesting that the momentum of the book was in the other direction, toward the idea that worship was a form of warfare. The book ‘permits’ both readings, but only one leads toward the one who later took up the name Joshua/Jesus.
[Jesus entered Jerusalem] ‘And the crowds went before him. … But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry. And said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself [to silence the foe and the avenger]‘?” (Matt 21:7, 15-16)
Jesus’ march on Jerusalem continues the Joshua story. To the praise of children he achieved his victory.
To read part 7 click HERE.
How to Burn Down Your House
(on fixing the problems of violence and wrath in the Bible)
When preparing to teach on violence in the Old Testament recently I was reminded of a book review I once read. The reviewer recounted his neighbour’s efforts to remove a grease stain from his garage floor. The neighbour dumped a few gallons of gasoline on the floor and scrubbed. It worked beautifully. The stain disappeared completely. Job done!
However, there was a slight problem. The gasoline fumes filled the garage and were eventually ignited by his boiler’s pilot light. The great conflagration that ensued ended up burning his entire house to its foundations.
This story offered a warning that stuck with me: Turn off your mobile phone at the pump, you ask? Yes, but also, beware of solutions that too easily resolve. They might be highly combustible!
This is a basic, but often missed, principle that applies to thinking through all sorts of knotty problems in theology. Answers that resolve problems too neatly and easily usually have hidden costs or trade-offs that don’t surface at first glance. Only by prodding and testing do they begin to emerge.
Two of the most common problems on which interpreters reach for the gas can are divinely sanctioned violence and divine wrath (I can see you reaching for it already!).
Easy resolutions to the problem of violence often look like one of the following two approaches:
The first looks at an issue like the Canaanite genocide and says, ‘Sin is sin, so of course God is justified in his command to destroy every man, woman, child, and infant in Canaan without mercy!’ The assumption here is that the one asking the question might not take seriously enough the problem of sin, or they do not have a sufficiently high view of God’s holiness and sovereignty. If they did, the problem would disappear. I’ve even heard one person ‘resolve’ the issue using eschatology, suggesting that Joshua is a case of ‘intrusion ethics.’ God’s eschatological judgment had broken into history and wiped out a few thousand as a foretaste of the billions he would destroy at the end of time. This displaced and augmented the problem.
The second easy resolution says, ‘Well of course the Canaanite genocide never happened,’ or, ‘The conquest story is the projected fantasy of a primitive tribalistic people.’
Both approaches pour gasoline on the problem … often with unintended consequences. The first approach ignores (or destroys) the rich tradition of protest against divine judgment that we see demonstrated in individuals like Abraham (Gen 18) and Moses (Exod 34; Num 12, 14, 16, 21). It also misses out on the rich complexity of Joshua’s message, which seems to question the fundamental division between ‘us/good’ and ‘them/bad’ that a surface reading of the book suggests (e.g., Josh 5:13-14). The second, which states the non-historicity of the Canaanite genocide, pretends to remove the problem but only shifts it. Now we’re saying that this is how God wants to be portrayed, even if it didn’t happen. And calling the ancient Israelites ‘primitive’ is just arrogant, and like the first approach, leads readers to miss much of Joshua’s theological depth.
Rather than rushing toward either resolution, perhaps we should explore the cost of doing business with them, avoid representing the biblical writers as our intellectual and moral inferiors, and adopt a posture of empathetic listening and faithful questioning. Perhaps we should read Joshua slowly. Let it disturb, surprise, and unsettle. As someone who has done this, I can only say that it repays such efforts abundantly.
Divine wrath is also a problem on which many want to pour gasoline … and they have for a long time, going back at least as far as the early 2nd century heretic Marcion (not a fan of Yahweh). Marcion wanted to do away with divine wrath, and with it, the Old Testament. He found it unbecoming of God’s goodness. In his critique of Marcion, Tertullian writes: ‘A better god has been discovered, who never takes offense, is never angry, never inflicts punishment, who has prepared no fire in hell, no gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness! He is purely and simply good’ (1.27).
But here’s Tertullian’s insight—there are always hidden costs to pictures of God that eliminate challenging tensions. In this instance, Tertullian claims that Marcion eliminates God’s ability to act as judge: ‘You allow indeed that God is a judge, but at the same time destroy those operations and dispositions by which He discharges His judicial functions’ (Adv. Mar. 2.16). For Tertullian (and many biblical texts), wrath is the emotion that animates God’s active concern for justice. Criticizing his wrath was like criticizing the instruments of a doctor. Wrath, in Tertullian’s formulation—and arguably in the Bible itself—is tied intimately to God’s exercise of justice.
Tertullian is highlighting the inseparability—or at least the complex interaction—of wrath and justice in God. In Exodus 22:21-24 for instance, God warns Israel that if his people cause the orphan or widow to cry out, ‘my anger will blaze.’ He would come in judgment upon those who cause such an outcry just as he came against Egypt. The point of these verses is not to be precise about the exact penalty for oppressing the weak, but to express the pathos of God in the face of injustice. For Israel, Mark Smith points out, God’s wrath was bound up in the idea that he was the protective father of the vulnerable—whether they be individuals or his people Israel. Wrath—like jealousy—was seen as a sign of concern for the weak against any who would put them at risk or threaten his legitimate claim to parentage. In this sense, God’s wrath toward the nations (e.g., for their mistreatment of Israel) was a deep expression of his love over and for his people.
For many of us, associating wrath with love is strange. But love in the Old Testament is grounded in the idea of Israel as God’s covenant people (Deut 6:4-5). Love was the relational glue between covenant partners. And if we think of covenant in terms of ‘family substitute,’ love was the trusting loyalty required for healthy family cohesion, while God’s wrath was his protective rage aimed at threats to that family (internal or external).
But we can’t swing the pendulum away from mercy toward wrath, as if wrath could never become a problem. Abraham and Moses certainly recognized this on many occasions—and even challenged God to exercise mercy! Tertullian, who defended God’s wrath against Marcion, urges us to weigh God’s ‘severity’ against his gentleness and observe the imbalance (Adv. Mar. 2.17). As I tell my students at WTC, God’s character is wildly imbalanced. The coexistence of wrath and mercy is not that of equals. If we take the language of mercy vs. wrath in Exod. 34:6-7 in strictly mathematical terms (love to ‘thousands of generations’ : ‘3-4 generations’ of judgment) God’s mercy outweighs by at least 500:1!
But for important reasons, these verses—which are central to an Old Testament portrait of God—keep God’s mercy and judgment sit together, even if they are imbalanced. Perhaps we lose something when we lose judgment and wrath, and perhaps we lose something when we toss aside violent texts as purely human projections. Maybe there is an understanding of God’s character that only comes by exploring the revelatory value of the most troublesome texts and by teasing out the complex characterization of Israel’s God that Scripture offers.
The subjects of wrath and violence are uncomfortable. But I suggest that how we handle them, and not just the topics themselves, is what poses the greatest danger. We will not all land in the same place on these topics, but what if we at least stop and explore the cost of doing business with easy resolutions? Let’s keep the roof over our heads.
 Smith, How Human is God? Seven Questions About God and Humanity in the Bible (Liturgical Press, 2014), 46.
 Smith, How Human is God? 48.
With: Richard Middleton and William Brown.
In this WTCLive episode, Matt continues the discussion on the subject of creation, violence and God with two of his favourite Old Testament scholars. Creation and the question of violence occupy an important place in the work of these Old Testament gurus. Plus, they’ve both just come out with some fantastic new books that you’ll want to read to help you navigate these topics and to open up new worlds. Middleton’s book is A New Heaven and A New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology (Baker 2014) and Brown’s is Wisdom’s Wonder: Character, Creation, and Crisis in the Bible’s Wisdom Literature (Eerdmans, 2014).
This is the second in our series on ‘Creation, Violence and God of the Old Testament’ (see part one here.)
J. Richard Middleton, PhD
Richard earned a Ph.D. from the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, in a joint-degree program with the Institute of Christian Studies, Toronto. His other degrees include: M.A. in Philosophy, University of Guelph (Canada), 1985, and B.Th., Jamaica Theological Seminary, 1977. Dr. Middleton has done additional graduate studies in the Old Testament at Colgate Rochester Divinity School (1986-1988), and in religious studies and philosophy at Syracuse University (1984-1985).
He is widely published in religious periodicals and journals, as well as the author of four books. His most recent books are The Liberating Image: The Imago Dei in Genesis 1 (Brazos) and A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology (Baker Academic). He has edited a volume of essays on Caribbean Theology for Pickwick Publications, and is working on a manuscript for Abingdon Press on the dynamics of human and divine agency in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel. Special areas of interest are Old Testament theology, the Christian worldview, the books of Genesis and Samuel, the doctrine of Creation, and Christianity and postmodern culture. He also serves as an adjunct professor of Old Testament at the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology in Kingston, Jamaica, and is the president of the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association.
William P. Brown, PhD
William earned his Ph.D. at Emory University, his MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his BA from Whitman College. He has abiding interests in the use of scripture in the life of the church and the world, particularly in the context of ecology and justice. Specific interests include creation theology, faith and science dialogue, the Psalms, and wisdom literature (Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes). Recent books include The Seven Pillars of Creation: Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder (Oxford University) and Wisdom’s Wonder (Wm. B. Eerdmans). Recently, he helped Columbia Seminary earn one of 10 grants totalling $1.5 million awarded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to integrate science into the seminary’s curriculum.