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A Mother's Paean, A Warrior's Dirge A MOTHER'S PAEAN, A WARRIOR'S DIRGE: REFLECTIONS ON THE USE OF POETIC INCLUSIONS IN THE BOOKS OF SAMUEL! by Francisco O. Garda-Treto A native of Cuba, Francisco Garda-Treto received his Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies from Princeton Theological Seminary. He holds the rank of Professor and the office of Chair in the Department of Religion ofTrinity University in San Antonio. Professor Garda's most recent publications are: "The Fall of the House: A Carnivalesque Reading of 2 Kings 9 and 10," in Danna Nolan Fewel, ed., Reading Between Texts: Intertextuality and the Hebrew Bible (Louisville, KY: Westminster/.Tohn Knox Press, 1992)" p. 153-171, and "A Reader-Response Approach to Prophetic Conflict: The Case of Amos 7:10-17," forthcoming in J. Cheryl Exum and David]. A. Clines, eds., The New Literary Criticism and the Hebrew Bible (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993). Dr. Garda is currently working on a Spanish commentary on the Books of Samuel, to be a volume in the Comentario Biblico Hispano Americano (Miami, FL: Editorial Caribe). Introduction 51 The inclusion of canticles placed in the mouths of principal actors of the narrative is characteristic of the style of the Deuteronomistic History. Beside the Song of Hannah in 1 Samuel and David's lament for Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 2-the chiefobjectsof this paper's interest-one can cite the Song of Deborah in Judges 4, or David's canticle in 2 Samuel 22 lThis paper is a revised version of an address presented to the graduate faculty and students of the Biblical Department at Baylor University, Waco, Texas, April 1992. 52 SHOFAR Winter 1993 Vol. 11, No. 2 as other examples. Traditionally, historical-critical scholars have tended to see these inclusions as "redactional," that is, as secondary intrusions into the pristine prose of the "Qriginal" text of originally unrelated, preexistent poetic pieces. Speaking of the Song of Hannah, Lyle M. Esslinger distinguishes two basic positions on the question-which the judgment that it is a "redactional insertion" inevitably raises-of the logic behind the insertion. An older group of critics3 speculated that a redactor saw a "slim, almost spurious" connection between some feature of the song-primarily the reference to the birth of children to the barren woman in verse 5b4 -and the narrative, indeed, that the connection of poem and narrative is at best purely decorative,5 and had nothing intrinsically to do with Hannah's story. Such interpretations, at best banal, betray at worst a dismissive attitude toward the conscious and accomplished art of the author6 of the literary masterwork which we call the Books of Samuel. Another option is that taken by critics-for example McCarter in his indispensable Anchor Bible commentary7-who appreciate to a greater or lesser degree the "adequacy" of the poetic insertion in the narrative, but whose central concern with reconstruction of a redactional process inevitably relegates these intrusions to a secondary plane at best. McCarter, characteristically, sums up his position in these words: Here and there in the major prose narratives of the Bible a poem appears. In most cases the subject of the poem is generally adequate to the context; often the poem is explicitly attributed to a major figure in the story. 2Lyle M. Esslinger, Kingship of God in Crisis: A Close Reading of 1 Samuel 1-12 (Sheffield: The Almond Press, 1985), pp. 199-102. Yfhenius 1864, H. P. Smith 1899, Budde 1902, for example. '''The barren has borne seven, but she who has many ctlildren is forlorn" (RSV for MT's n""c~ C'J:ll M:ll'" nl1~rzI n.,,,, n"pl1). 5Esslinger quotes Herzberg's comment in his 1964 commentary (OTL): "We should take this in the same way as the addition of a suitable hymn to a Bible reading" (Herzberg, 1964, p.29). 6My basic assumption about that "author" is that, even though there was in all probability a pre-Exilic, "Josianic" first version of what has come to be called the Deuteronomistic History, in its finish form we are dealing with a literary product of the Babylonian Exile, and in Samuel and Kings in...


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