Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Religious Studies


A.E. Combs




II samuel i-vii is the story of David's accession to the throne after the death of King Saul. Numerous studies of these chapters have concluded that particular aspects of style are evidence 1) that the narrative is a combination of several originally distinct sources, 2) that these sources were edited at a later date to form larger narrative sequences, 3) that the historical David is different than the David depicted in the narrative and 4) that the narrative is sufficiently disunified so that it cannot be read as a sequence of events which culminate in II Samuel vii. The purpose of this dissertation is to argue that the aspects of style used to justify these various conclusions can be more adequately understood as purposeful uses of the Hebrew language for the creation of a narrative. When the details of style are rightly understood, the chapters can and should be read as a coherent sequence of events. The purpose of this story is to depict the actions of several individuals, but David in particular, from a time shortly after the death of Saul to the point at which God makes several promises to David in II Samuel vii. The depiction of the actions of various individuals reveals a richness and complexity of motives, and this complexity is exemplified in the person of David as well. However, the story also represents David as being guided by 1) restraint in response to the house of Saul because Saul had been the anointed of the Lord, 2) a desire to unify both Judah and Israel as a political and religious entity, and 3) a willingness either to consult the ways of God prior to his actions or to conform to God's direction when necessary. David is sufficiently obedient to the stipulations of God in these chapters that God's original anointing of David as king is brought to completion and God makes several new and generous promises to him for the future. The dissertation is divided into two parts. Part I is a review of the most important previous studies on or relating to II Samuel i-vii. In this section I note in detail the stylistic characteristics which are used for the justification of the various readings of the passages. Part II is an inquiry into the style of each of the chapters. This section involves an evaluation of the accounts of style given in Part I as well as a determination of the purposes of other aspects of style of the chapter not yet adequately appreciated. Part II presents the ways in which the Hebrew style of the narrative functions purposefully in the creation of a unified and forceful depiction of this portion of David's life.

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