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VoLume 9. No.1 FaLL 1990 109 Samuel and the Deuteronomist, by Robert Polzin. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989. 296 pp. $38.95. Robert Polzin, Professor of Hebrew Bible at Carleton University, Ottawa , Canada, has written an intriguing study of the Book of First Samuel. In contrast to the typical commentaries on the Hebrew Bible which do intense textual or historical criticism, spending much time with fine points of the text, trying "to recover or reconstruct sources or documents" (p. 13), this book is a study of the text as it stands. This book, the author writes, "presumes the text of I Samuel makes sense, however worked-over the text is scribally" (p. 17). What Polzin does is to stand, as it were, above the book and view it in its totality rather than to delve into the fine points of the text. Professor Polzin points out in a somewhat metaphoric way that we can join with the narrator of I Samuel, who is omniscient, knowing not only what has happened in the past but also what is yet to come in the future. In addition, the narrator is also capable of penetrating the consciousness of the persons who live and whose words are depicted in the total story. So, from this lofty height, the narrator of the text sees past, present, future, and weaves all into a unified whole. . For example in the story of the capture and the release of the ark, the reader reads about Eli and his sons and also backward into Israel's enslavement in Egypt as well as also forward to its captivity in the Babylonian exile. Another incident illustrates Professor Polzin's approach: Hannah's request for a son at the outset of the book is also a foreshadowing of Israel's request for a king. What Hannah is reported to have said to the Lord makes "artistic sense," for "the story of Samuel's birth is the story of Saul's birth as king of Israel" (p. 26). In fact, it is suggested that we need to understand the whole story of Samuel's birth "as a finely orchestrated overture on the birth of kingship in Israel" (p. 31). Polzin writes, "The voices we hear in chapter one, those of the narrator and the characters, take on a dual accent that reverberates backward and forward on the question of kingship in Israel" (p. 26). The author develops an intriguing comparison between Hannah's song of rejoicing and David's psalm of rejoicing in I Samuel 2 and in II Samuel 22. This, Polzin argues effectively, points out the multivoiced word pictures used in the books ofSamuel, speaking of many things at once. In summary, writes Polzin, chapters 1-7 of I Samuel (i.e., the life and death of Eli and his sons and the rise of Samuel to prominence) are an overture on the entire monarchic history. Eli's falling over bacl~ard represents the doom of the kingship brought to Israel (p. 64). In time the kingship will end! And it is also true that in the story of Saul's meeting the woman of Endar found in chapter 28, where we see an old man clothed in a royal robe 110 SHOFAR rising up from the earth like a god, we see also the idolatrous effect of kings on Israel. Eli died; Saul died; the monarchy died! Samuel and the Deuteronomist is highly recommended as not only a study of Israel's history but also a study of a contemporary scholar's view of the development of the text of the Bible as it now exists in final form. Again, the view of the author is not only of probing through the underbrush but one of flying above the forest and getting a view from that vantage point of the book of I Samuel. This commentary should prove itself of value to the scholar and to the competent novice as well. E. Herbert Nygren Department of Biblical Studies Taylor University The Book of Theodicy: Translation and Commentary on the Book of Job, by Saadiah Ben Joseph AI-Fayyumi, edited by Lenn E. Goodman. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 109-110
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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