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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 268 Reviews DAVID: BIBLICAL PORTRAITS OF POWER. By Marti J. Steussy. Studies on Personalities of the Old Testament. pp. viii + 251. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1999. Cloth, $34.95. These days David is on many agendas! This can be seen in the recent heated discussion in leading journals covering the Old Testament, ancient Near East, and archaeology of the Levant regarding the existence (or rather non-existence) of the Davidic empire and the tenth century B.C.E. With all this interest, Steussy's book appears to be an opportune tool in the hand of the educated public to access the scholar's take on the life of the most-often mentioned biblical personality. While focusing upon the educated lay public (p. 8), instead of academia, Steussy nevertheless does provide quite a number of endnotes (pp. 199-221) and also includes a fourteen-page bibliography (pp. 223-236) at the end of the book. The book itself is divided into five main sections: (1) an introduction indicating the method a.nd problems involved in the study of the life of David (pp. 3-25); (2) the portmit of David in the primary history, by which Steussy refers to 1/2 Samuel and 1/2 Kings (pp. 29-96); (3) the Chronicler's representation of the great King (pp. 99-128); (4) the glimpses of David gleaned from the book of Psalms (pp. 131-188); and (5) the synthesis of her study (pp. 191-197). Steussy's approach seems to be a marriage of-in her terms-"the dogmatic , critical and artistic" approaches (pp. 6-9) current in scholarship in these days. Obviously one could take issue with the name tags that she utilizes -after all "dogmatic" is not a term genemlly used to describe methodology but is rather connected to systematic theology and seems to have a pejorative "ring" to it-but it is rather the broader issue of "methodological mix-and-mingle" that has caused the present reviewer to mise an eyebrow . Is it possible to combine a literary approach (which has been characterized as being "a-historical") with the standard historical-critical method of reading the Old Testament and still maintain a methodological integrity? And how does one take into considemtion one's own presuppositions (read "dogmatic approach") and label and indicate them clearly? Would this point of departure not make void the new ground gained by the literary approach? When Steussy looks at the issues at stake for somebody trying to reconstruct the life (or perhaps in her view rather the "story") of David she depends heavily on standard historical-critical assumptions and positions,-such as the doublets of David's fight against Goliath (pp. 10--11) and the sequence of David's connection with the court of Saul, without Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 269 Reviews looking for possible explanations of the data from either a literary 0 r theological perspective (where sequence and repetition are important tools to express a specific point of view). To say it more directly: although Steussy appears to read the David story from a literary point of view (pp. 23-25), she does so by utilizing standard historical presuppositions (for example on p. 6 she accepts the idea that Genesis was written after David; on p. 126 she suggests that Ruth was written in the same time as Chronicles). After this critical introduction concerning the methodology of the book, some specific comments would be in order. Utilizing her literary tool-set Steussy has a keen eye for the not-so-apparent, which enriches traditional exegesis, although sometimes she accepts some interpretations that not everybody would agree with. A good illustration of this is her reference to Polzin's interpretation of Hannah's story which-according to him-embodies a parable with Hannah's desire for sons paralleling Israel's desire for a king, etc. (p. 32). Without doing injustice to Polzin, this rather allegorical interpretation seems to lack a clear marker in the text indicating its parable nature. Steussy's discussion of Samuel's role in the establishment of the monarchy (pp. 32-39) is enlightening and sheds some new and interesting light upon...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 268-270
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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