King David and the Future of Academic Bible Scholarship

By the beginning of the 21st century, Bible scholars had become divided into rival interpretive schools, each locked into its own rigid orthodoxies, writes Mark McEntire. Postmodernists, archaeologists, and practitioners of literary or historical-critical analysis grew accustomed to writing solely for their ideological brethren. A new study by Jacob L. Wright, focusing on the story of King David, has attempted to combine the best of these varying approaches, with much success. Wright also draws on comparisons between modern commemorations of war and the Book of Samuel’s desire to tell the story of the civil war between Saul and David. McEntire writes:

[Wright’s] methodological alacrity finds its greatest payoff in the conclusions about a “War-Torn David.” The biblical authors use the past to address their own present, which we can understand in light of our own present. According to Wright, “The same activity that produced the monuments dotting our [American] national landscapes propelled the Bible’s formation. Using representative individuals, the biblical writers appealed to memories of wartime contributions and sacrifice as they addressed issues of belonging—both within the community of Israel and between Israel and other peoples.” People of all eras struggle to make their version of a great story the dominant one and to decide who is allowed to attach themselves to the tradition surrounding the story. . . .

Read more at Marginalia

More about: Biblical criticism, Biblical scholarship, Hebrew Bible, King David, King Saul, Samuel


While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy