Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. A.M. Cooper
Chapters 8-12 of 1 Samuel have long been studied as a source of information about the development of a monarchy in ancient Israel. In modern scholarship the narrative in these chapters has usually been approached from the methodological perspective of historical criticism, in which an attempt is made to reconstruct both the historical events described in the narrative and the historical process of composition that resulted in the narrative. The result of 200 years of such study is that 1 Sam 8-12 is no longer read as a literary unit; individual units of the text are ascribed to various authors writing in various times and places, with various opinions about the concept of an Israelite monarchy.
The hypothesis explored in this dissertation is that it may yet be possible, perhaps even necessary, to read 1 Sam 8-12 as a literary whole in order to understand it properly. Moreover, initial surveying of the literary and rhetorical features of the narrative suggest that it is necessary to read 1 Sam 8-12 in the light of 1 Sam 1-7. Taken together, the various scenes in 1 Sam 1-12 constitute an episode in the continuing story of the theological-political experiment that was ancient Israel's national existence. When these twelve chapters are read together, they are found to contain a coherent exploration of a single problem experienced by ancient Israel as it attempted to live in a covenantal relationship with its national God, Yahweh.
The methodological approach used in this dissertation may be characterized as a close reading of the text that attempts to discover the literary techniques of Hebrew narrative, to describe these techniques, and to use the resulting understanding of Hebrew narratology to understand and interpret the ideas presented by the narrative. The basic premise of this approach is that in order to understand an ancient text from a foreign culture, the modern reader must allow his reading to be guided and educated by the literary conventions of the text. The most basic requirement for this type of reading is that the reader describe the narrative, rather than evaluating it, either as literature or history.
Eslinger, Lyle Mark, "Covenant and Kingship in Ancient Israel. A Reading of 1 Samuel 1-12" (1982). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1564.