My Top 6 Commentaries (Joshua)

My Top 6 Commentaries (Joshua) June 28, 2021

After a short break, we are back with our “Top 6” series featuring recommendations by expert Old Testament/Hebrew Bible scholars. Today we are fortunate to have picks from Dr. Lissa Wray Beal. She is a seasoned commentary writer, with a volume on 1 & 2 Kings (Apollos), and another on Joshua (Story of God). And she is planning more to come on 1-2 Samuel, Ruth, and Jeremiah. So, we can be sure she does her homework and offers excellent recommendations! Without further ado…

Book of Joshua

Dr. Lissa M. Wray Beal


Trent C. Butler (Word). This updated commentary includes the author’s translation and critical textual, philological, and historical work. Its 2-volumes allows for ample exegesis. Overall, valuable for in-depth engagement with the Hebrew text, solid exegetical work, and some theological reflection.

Pekka M. A. Pitkänen (Apollos). This volume includes the author’s own translation and balances historical, textual, philological, and theological questions. There is broad engagement with current scholarship, attention to the ancient Near Eastern context, and some attention to modern concerns such as warfare violence and neocolonialism. A good resource for scholars and serious students of the text.


Richard Hess (TOTC). Hess’s succinct commentary works with the literary shape of the text and provides some theological commentary. Of particular note is engagement with the realia of the boundary and town lists, and with archaeological and historical data to set the book’s events in the late second millennium.

Daniel Hawk (Berit Olam). Hawk’s attention to the text’s narrative art is superb. By tracing a theme of “boundaries” (ethnic, land) throughout the text, his commentary also clearly addresses contemporary questions.


David G. Firth (Evangelical Biblical Theological Commentary). This new commentary showcases Firth’s deep familiarity with Joshua and his clear communication style. Firth focuses on the text’s literary shape, theological meaning, and canonical connections, providing a wonderful resource for the church and its preachers.

Gordon H. Matties (Believers Church Bible Commentary). A literary and theological commentary that intentionally addresses modern questions of warfare, colonialism, and ethnic identity. A lengthy appendix includes short essays on critical, historical, and archaeological issues. A valuable and at times provocative work, helpful for pastors and lay-people.

And because I can’t leave it out

Origen’s Homilies on Joshua (Fathers of the Church). An example of a faithful premodern work that shows a pastoral heart. The premodern interpretive methods raise significant hermeneutical questions while providing a good counter-voice to modern methodologies.

Again, don’t forget to check out Wray Beal’s own commentary on Joshua in the Story of God series!

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