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Elaborated Evidence for the Priority of 1 Samuel 26 (Essay)

Journal of Biblical Literature 2010, Fall, 129, 3

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The two stories about David's declined opportunities to kill Saul in 1 Samuel 24 and 26 constitute a long-standing crux interpretum for biblical scholars. (1) No one, to my knowledge, doubts that the stories are related in some way, but the nature of their relationship is a matter of considerable disagreement. (2) Beginning with Julius Wellhausen, many scholars have seen the version in ch. 26 as the older of the two. (3) But perhaps just as many have pointed to ch. 24 as the older account. (4) The arguments on both sides are often impressionistic or laced with assumptions rather than appealing to specific features of the respective texts. Thus, Wellhausen asserted that ch. 26 was older because it was shorter and more pointed, and Hans Joachim Stoebe disagreed with Klaus Koch about which of the two chapters preserves the traces of a genuine hero saga that would have been passed on orally by David's men. A third approach, popularized by Koch's influential treatment, assumes that the two stories derive from oral variants of an original, single episode. (5) An exception to this general neglect of specific features was a well-crafted 1998 article by Cynthia Edenburg. (6) The article laid out five categories of evidence for what Edenburg termed "author devised interrelations" and then argued from those categories that the story in ch. 24 was dependent on ch. 26 rather than both stemming from a single older tradition. She concluded, however, that both stories were written by the same author, who used them to highlight the keystone tale of David's encounter with Abigail (ch. 25), which anticipates the dynastic promise (2 Samuel 7) and ties it to refraining from wrongful bloodshed. In this brief article, I wish (1) to elaborate one of Edenburg's key arguments and thereby to affirm her basic conclusion about the direction of dependence from ch. 26 to ch. 24; (2) to offer a text-critical explanation for an observation she makes about the narrative of ch. 24 that further supports her view of the direction of dependence; and (3) to demur from her conclusion regarding common authorship of the two chapters and to propose a slightly different explanation for their function individually and together in the larger narrative.

Elaborated Evidence for the Priority of 1 Samuel 26 (Essay)
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  • Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Published: 22 September 2010
  • Publisher: Society of Biblical Literature
  • Print Length: 15 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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