King David and the Future of Academic Bible Scholarship

October 29, 2014 | Marc McEntire
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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. . . .

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