Judges is definitely not suitable for Sunday School reading, the bits that are told are firmly censored, and few of us go back to notice what we are missing. But, if we do, what we find is a book chock full of horrid twisted tales, brutal, brutish and sadly not short. Why? Can such a nasty collection of stories be justified, or should it simply be banned?"Nasty, horrid tales. Grubby," says Tim who, believe it or not, teaches Old Testament (why not "Hebrew Bible"?) at Carey Baptist College in Auckland. But after "all those tawdry tales" comes the last verse, which possibly provides some sort of moral for the tale... I think. Maybe. In fact, we're going to have to wait, for Tim promises more in the next instalment. Cynic that I am, I get the feeling that he's going to apply the baptismal waters to the grubbiness, working up a sudsy lather with the exegete's version of something that washes "whiter than white," and then we'll all be able to breathe again. This catalogue of travesties provides (again, I'm guessing here at Tim's approach) an example to avoid, thus justifying its existence in the canon. If that's the line (which it might not be), I for one don't buy it.
My first question, if I were one of Tim's students (I can hear Tim intoning "God forbid!"), would be about the harmful influence Judges has had down through history. It's influence on colonial powers, for example, and genocidal freaks. Can any amount of gentle scrubbing remove the splattered blood stains of countless indigenous people - men, women and children - in South and Central America, for example, victims of the mindset which this book - in substantial part - either created or encouraged.
In any case, I'll be awaiting part 2 with great interest. Do give part one a listen and see what you think.