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The End of the Beginning
Joshua and Judges
PAPERBACK; Published: 11/19/2019
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6838-1
Price: $ 30.99
352 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 5.5 x 8.5
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The End of the Beginning presents a chapter-by-chapter interpretation of Joshua and Judges, based on the author’s translation. Johanna van Wijk-Bos accompanies the reader through the story of Israel from the entry into Canaan up to the time of Samuel. van Wijk-Bos weaves together the memories of ancient Israel’s past into a story that speaks to the traumatic context of postexilic Judah. 

The books of Joshua and Judges were written for education, edification, and entertainment. Some of the stories may exhilarate us, some may appall; all will speak to the imagination if we let them. They show a people forging a path forward into an uncertain future in the hope that God will forgive past failures and begin again with them. Christians enter the stories of Israel’s past as outsiders, while at the same time claiming a bond with the same God. We expect more from the text than lessons of the past intended for a different people. These are not our stories, but we too hope for insight and for a guiding word in our own uncertain future. 

This is the first volume of A People and a Land, a multi-volume work on the historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings.

“The author’s own life experience, scholarly interests, and expertise inform this sensitive and beautifully articulated study of Joshua-Judges. The translations are felicitous and convey the cadences of the Biblical Hebrew. Erudite and accessible, this new commentary/translation not only explores the texts’ meanings and messages within their ancient sociohistorical contexts, but also examines the challenges that the corpus presents to contemporary readers. I particularly appreciate the author’s attention to a range of issues in biblical ethics, especially those pertaining to gender and political justice.”
— Susan Niditch, Amherst College
“Van Wijk-Bos bases The End of the Beginning on her commitment to the value of ancient Israel’s rendering of its identity through narrative, to the ongoing witness of Jews and Christians to the God of Israel, and to the struggles for a just and compassionate social order. Her translation of the Hebrew text into ‘short lines’ is a real aid for the modern reader. I am glad to recommend it.”
— J. Andrew Dearman, Fuller Seminary
Catholic Library World
“Warmly recommended to all academic libraries.”
Society for Old Testament Study Book List
“Although the treatment is not technical, scholars will appreciate the richness of [van Wijk-Bos’s] interaction, while a wider readership can be encouraged to come to grips with these often perplexing books.”
Review of Biblical Literature
The End of the Beginning, dedicated to four decades of her students at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, represents a summing up of van Wijk-Bos’s career as teacher, scholar, activist, and interfaith learner. If childhood memories of life in postwar Europe prompted her initial attraction to Joshua and Judges, it is adult engagement in Jewish learning that has inspired her final insights.”
Theological Studies
“This commentary will make you a more careful and perceptive reader of Joshua and Judges. It is highly recommended for anyone seeking a deeper and multifaceted engagement with these books.”