Contesting Claims and Divine Inscrutability in 2 Samuel 16: 5-14
2. “Out with the Old and In with the New”: Surveying the Work of Earlier Interpreters: What has Worked, What Hasn’t and Why A Fresh Approach Is Needed
Surveying the Work of Earlier Interpreters: What has Worked, What Hasn’t and Why a Fresh Approach Is Needed
As the methods of biblical scholarship have flowered in recent years, creating divergent paths down which an interpreter can proceed, so have the conclusions developed out of those variegated approaches shifted the possible interpretations of the biblical text and the characters inscribed therein. In no case has the controversy been sharpest and results more divergent than in scholarly study devoted to David and his reign. Is David a historical figure? Did he ever actually rule over either kingdoms known as Judah and Israel? Or is the presentation found in the Bible simply an early form of religious fiction, containing enough verisimilitude to make the story real enough to hook a reader, but not necessarily accurate in terms of factual detail? Should the goal of scholarship be the elucidation of the religion of ancient Israel or defining the contours of God as a character in Israel’s sacred story? The quest for the historical David has increased in importance over the years as the earlier belief that the Old Testament contained facts of great antiquity has slowly begun to crumble. W.F. Albright’s argument that the patriarchal narratives were historical faltered first, as did subsequently the arguments of the so-called “Children of Albright,” regarding the Exodus story.1 The most recent line of defense has been drawn around David, and debates between those who accept a historical David in some form and the so-called...
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