Summary: Division of Canaan among Israel
For the past couple of years we as a family have gone to the Opera House in Belfast to see the Pantomime and because we usually book over the telephone and pay by credit card our name and address are on the data base of the Opera Houses’ computer system. That means that whenever they are sending out their programme of events for the forthcoming season we always receive a copy. While browsing through an edition of their programme a year or two ago I noticed that the reduced Shakespeare company were scheduled for a visit. The reduced Shakespeare company are a group of artists who in a show lasting perhaps two and a half hours try to cover as many plays of William Shakespeare as possible, taking perhaps a bit out of Romeo and Juliet and a bit out of The tempest, and then moving on to some scene of Macbeth and then King Lear and so on. Their presentation is reported to be very entertaining and does succeed in giving you something of a flavour of Shakespeare, albeit somewhat superficial and tongue in cheek. I say that it is reported to be very entertaining because although we got the information about the event we never actually got to see it. I did however hear a guy a couple of years ago giving an even more greatly reduced and very entertaining summary of Shakespeare’s works, in about three to four minutes.
Of course connoisseurs of Shakespeare would not be at all enamoured with such a treatment of the great playwright’s works, preferring a more detailed, studied approach to the various individual texts. But who knows perhaps the less deep, overview type of approach might have actually served some practical purpose in getting people interested in a genre of English literature that they might otherwise have avoided because they considered it of no entertainment value.
Well this evening you are going to get the reduced Joshua as I endeavour to cover seven chapters of this book in about 25 minutes in a single sermon.
Some of you might perhaps think that such an approach is somewhat superficial and I have to confess that in one sense it is. I have been very selective in my choice of material and of necessity will be leaving out great chunks of text. However I trust that my overview approach this evening will not only prove to be a benefit in and of itself but will also stimulate some interest at least in chunks of scripture like this that many of us would perhaps usually avoid. One’s natural tendency when one comes to a section of the Bible, like this, where chapter after chapter is given over to a seemingly endless lists of names that one cannot pronounce and places that one can no longer identify and so on is to skip over such a section and go on to the next more interesting part of the Bible and I have to confess to having done that myself from time to time. But there are golden nuggets of truth and practical instruction to be found in what from the human perspective are the most unlikely and seemingly unpromising of places in scripture.