Emerging Voices in Samuel Studies – Short Papers

Emerging Voices – Full Program

Friday, April 26th — Short Papers Session 1poster for emerging voices
8:30–10:30 am
Memorial Union


Echoes of the Exodus in the Ark Narrative

Echoes of the exodus have been identified in virtually every scene of the Ark Narrative (AN; 1 Sam 4:1-7:1; see esp. Daube, The Exodus Pattern in the Bible, 73–88). The objective of this paper is first to re-evaluate the extent of the AN’s links to the exodus, and then to elucidate their significance. I begin with a brief survey of the AN’s references and allusions to the exodus story, and show that the AN evokes the exodus story by explicit reference (1 Sam 4:8; 6:6) as well as through shared themes and vocabulary. Next, I address the question of whether the links to the exodus are an original element of the AN. I demonstrate that 1 Sam 4:8 and 6:6 both sit in tension with surrounding material, indicating that they are likely secondary. At the same time, I argue that these explicit references were triggered by implicit allusions to the exodus that were already present in an early form of the AN. Finally, and most importantly, I take up the question of why the AN recalls the exodus. I argue that literary allusion is a form of cultural remembering, a means by which a community’s past is recalled and re-used for present purposes. The allusions to the exodus story provide a framework for understanding and even taming the mysterious and discomfiting events recounted in the AN.

Recasting Kingship and Scribal Adaptation in 1 Samuel 8 

In 1 Samuel 8, after Yahweh comforts Samuel by stating that the people have rejected him as ruler and not Samuel, Yahweh tells Samuel to listen to the people’s request for a king and to declare to them 1(משפט המלך Sam 8:11–18). Scholars have typically understood Samuel’s declaration of משפט המלך to the people of Israel as an example of monarchic excess, as a negative evaluation of kingship. These scholars interpreted the whole of chapter eight, including משפט המלך, as a late, anti-monarchic chapter designed to reframe the reading of historically earlier, pro-monarchic passages in Saul’s rise—reflecting the so-called Deuteronomistic Historian’s negative view toward kingship. Yet, upon examining vv. 11–18 in isolation, one recognizes that the language itself is neutral in its essence and does not necessarily reflect a negative assessment on kingship. Scholars have read this passage as negative, pointing to לקח, meaning “to take,” as the characteristic theme of משפט המלך, understanding the king’s action of “taking” as a corrupt seizure of people or property for the king’s own advantage. In standard legal context, however, the Common Semitic root LQḤ is a basic form of exchange, an act of giving one thing and receiving another in return, connoting a neutral or positive relationship between individuals and the king. Thus, through a de-contextualization out of the chapter and a re-contextualization into a legal context of the terms לקח, עבד, and זעק, the coreמשפט המלך text—prior to being framed within the chapter—reflects a monarchic vision in which the king’s power relied on the approval of individual households who together symbolically created a social body, a collective Israel. In its original legal context, the termלקח means exchange, instead of corrupt seizure; the term עבד should be understood as servants of the king, not chattel slaves; and the term זעק should be understood as raising a cry for legal relief, not a cry of anguish or oppression. The scribes and redactors who placedמשפט המלך within 1 Samuel 8 attempted to reshape and recast the material they inherited. In its original, potentially monarchic legal context,משפט המלך served as a neutral depiction of kingship; however, the post-monarchic scribes and redactors re-contextualized the source through a rereading of its polysemous terms לקח, עבד, and זעק, in an effort to simultaneously preserve the משפט המלך text and reinterpret it through exploiting the semantic range of its word.

Two Gods for Judge Samuel: Re-reading 1 Samuel 8–16

Source criticism failed to move its way into the Historical Books by the middle of the 20th century, giving way to tradition-criticism (e.g., Martin Noth’s dtr). Yet, some of the insights from source criticism, like the different terms used to refer to divinity (Yahweh and Elohim), may be helpful, in conjunction with narrative criticism, in explaining at least one reason why Saul’s kingship failed. Thus, one way of re-imagining (and probably historicizing) the biblical traditions is to interpret the biblical text using polyphony and polytheism. Drawing on the call for both polyphonic (see Green 2004; Newsom 2007) and polytheistic (see Jobling 1999) interpretations of the Samuel and Saul narratives, I will present a polyphonic and polytheistic reading of 1 Samuel 8–16. The result of my interpretations creates more torn robes than finished garments. Why is Samuel working for both Yahweh and Elohim? Does Samuel even know the difference between these two deities? Whether Samuel does or not, does Saul? Do Elohim and Yahweh know that Samuel is aiding the other deity? In what way(s) might these two deities be related? To whom does Kish’s son owe his allegiance? And while this confusion rages, what are we to make of the Israelite people as they struggle to free themselves, however unsuccessfully (see Gunn 1980), from the raw deal (i.e., Mosaic covenant) they struck with Yahweh in the desert. One outcome of this reading, reading the Israelites as a polyphonic, mixed-up, often oppressed, and always-desperate folk living in a foreign land, is to understand the Israelites’ demand for a king as an attempt to re-imagine themselves. Thus, while Judge Samuel and his sons represent old-Israel, the new king that the elders ask for engenders hope for a new-Israel. And, finally, while the biblical narrator (and most of her/his interpreters) may have decided that Saul is a tragic hero who fails, my proposed reading of 1 Samuel 8–16 allows us an alternative perspective.

The Spatial Motif of Saul’s Senses

This paper is a selection from my dissertation which advocates for a narrative space approach to the Hebrew Bible based upon theoretical work from narratologists beyond biblical studies. Inspired by the contributions of Gabriel Zoran, Marie-Laure Ryan, and Katrin Dennerlein, narrative space is understood as a negotiation of cognitive worlds but a negotiation grounded in diverse worldviews and particular texts. The case-study herein exposes the critical influence of spatiality upon the coordinated message surrounding Saul’s senses in 1 Samuel.

Humans use their senses to perceive the world around them. They are absolutely vital to the experience and epistemology of space. In 1 Samuel, Saul has sensory problems. On the other hand, David is pleading to be seen and heard by Saul and, ultimately, by God. The focus on Saul’s senses in the pursuit passages (chs. 19–26) continues a motif found early in 1 Samuel.  The repeated mention of Saul’s lack of awareness contrasts with his clear recognition of David’s person and destiny after the experiences of being spared in 1 Sam 24 and 26.

This work demonstrates how the “spatial motif” of Saul’s senses interpenetrates with various metaphors that are repeated in the pursuit passages of 1 Samuel (e.g., hunter vs. hunted). The metaphors themselves have a deep connection to spatiality. This helps us to appreciate further the influence that narrative space has upon the production of meaning.

Friday, April 26th — Short Papers Session 2
1:30–3:00 pm
Memorial Union


Textual and Source Criticism of 1 Samuel 16–18: A Complete Account

The preservation of the Hollywood story of David and Goliath in two forms, one in the Greek Bible (Codex Vaticanus [Vat. gr. 1209]) and the other in the Hebrew Masoretic Bible (MT), offers one of the juiciest cruxes for the Bible critic. It furnishes a unique control case for the methods of textual and source criticism and their reputed disciplinary limits. In particular, the textual discrepancy provides a rare instance in which manuscript evidence can be brought to bear on a potential source critical problem. Two versions really do exist, with the longer MT version encompassing the entire short version plus additional material interspersed throughout. Scholars have long addressed this crux, and, despite many influential dissenters (e.g., Rofé 1987), a consensus has emerged around Wellhausen’s early position (1899: 247–250) that the short version in Vaticanus (Version 1) represents the earlier stage and that MT contains another version of the story (Version 2), together with harmonizing interventions and also other material. No single study, though, has taken a comprehensive view of the problem, accounting for each MT plus, delimiting the extent of each source and layer, and assessing the impact on the growing text as a whole. In addition to providing this analysis, we argue that Version 2 originally concluded with David’s marriage to a daughter of Saul, and triggered redactional changes to the story elsewhere in MT Samuel. The study has three major sets of implications which are of significance to the ongoing debate about methods of biblical composition and editing: (1) It confirms that parallel stories about characters and episodes found in the Bible existed and circulated in written form in ancient times. (2) It confirms that the meticulous splicing together of written sources was a method employed in ancient times to incorporate such perceived parallels. (3) It demonstrates that rather than solving potential contradictions and discordance, some insertions develop plot-lines in unpredictable directions.

Goliath among the Giants: Monster Decapitation and Capital Display in Samuel and Beyond

A single verse near the conclusion of 1 Samuel 17 mentions that after defeating Goliath, David took the giant’s severed head to Jerusalem (1 Sam 17:54). The extensive scholarship on this combat narrative has had surprisingly little to say about this verse. In the present paper, I will argue that a literarily imagined transport and display of Goliath’s head encodes royal supremacy over monstrous bodies and casts the king as uniquely dominant over enemies at the physical extreme. This function of communicating royal and national power has parallels in both literature and in historical circumstances. I will discuss as illuminating points of comparison: (1.) various literary traditions of Gilgamesh that describe the decapitation of Humbaba and the display of that giant’s severed head, paralleled by apotropaic use of Humbaba’s head as known from the Mesopotamian archaeological record; (2.) Greek mythographers’ descriptions of Perseus’s defeat of Medusa, similarly paralleled in iconography by Gorgoneion architectural elements; and (3.) displays of severed heads belonging to defeated or appropriated ethnic Others in American dime museums and freak shows of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries C.E. I will engage Lacanian work on the semiotics of severed heads in literature and art (e.g. Kristeva 1998) and theorizations of the monstrous (e.g. Cohen 1999), along with recent scholarship on decapitation in the ancient Near East (e.g. Dolce 2018), in order to describe what biblical authors might have expected their audiences to understand by David’s action and its likely outcomes.

The Septuagint Storyteller: A Discourse-Pragmatic Study of the Historical Present in 1 Samuel 17–31

This paper analyzes the use of the so-called “historical” present tense within the LXXB text of 1 Sam 17–31 in order to satisfy Van der Louw’s (2013) recent suggestion that students of the Septuagint ought to interact more with the study of discourse in their analysis of translation style. The historical present is the use of the present tense in the midst of past tense narrative discourse. For the Septuagint in particular, the historical present is the present indicative tense of Greek used to render the simple past tense represented by the wayyiqtol and the past tense represented by the qatal conjugation. The norm for the Samuel translator is to translate both of these Hebrew forms with the aorist tense. Thackeray (1920) originally claimed that this use of the present tense within the book of Reigns functioned as a tool of “drama” for the translator as well as a marker of narrative transition. Thackeray’s study, however, was limited in scope and was not a comprehensive attempt at explaining this linguistic phenomenon. No further study has been undertaken to analyze the nature of the present tense in Samuel since Thackeray’s work except for Aejmelaeus (1997) who briefly commented upon the tense in her analysis of the Samuel translator’s style. She claimed in her study that the Samuel translator was unable to translate beyond the limited context of three to four words. Although she considered helpful examples of the translator’s sensitivity regarding the translation of the present and imperfect tenses, she largely seemed to understate the importance of the historical present in her conclusion. In contrast to Aejmelaeus’ claim, I suggest that the many uses (approximately 94 occurrences) of the historical present tense within 1 Sam 17–31 indicate the translator’s ability to attend to a broader level of narrative discourse by translating, for example, verbs of motion, battle organization, speech, and perception with the present tense. Although the translator to some extent systematically translates individual components of Hebrew words literally into Greek, I contend that the translator uses the historical present tense to show his sensitivity to the linguistic norms of Greek historical narrative.

Friday, April 26th — Short Papers Session 3
3:30–5:30 pm
Memorial Union


Jonathan the Savvy Strategist: Re-Reading 1 Samuel 20:2 in the Context of Jonathan’s Characterization in 1 Samuel

When describing Jonathan as a naïve or unintelligent character, commentators frequently read 1 Sam 20:2 as Jonathan doubting David’s claim that Saul is planning to murder David; their subsequent test convinces Jonathan that Saul persists in his violent intentions toward David. However, using narrative analysis with particular attention to characterization, I will argue that Jonathan assumes Saul will continue to inform him of his plans, as he did in 1 Sam 19:1, and that the subsequent test explores whether Saul is still sharing his plans with Jonathan. David worries that Saul has recognized that David ‘has found favor in Jonathan’s eyes,’ which could motivate Saul to withhold his plans from Jonathan. When speaking to Saul (1 Sam 20:28–29), Jonathan strategically adds the phrase “favor in your eyes” to the speech David gave him (1 Sam 20:6) to gauge Saul’s reaction to this description of David and Jonathan’s relationship. Since Saul grows angry with Jonathan only after hearing this phrase, Saul had not perceived this development in Jonathan and David’s relationship on his own. When the narrator reports Saul’s initial thoughts about David’s absence (1 Sam 20:26)—that David was ritually impure—it highlights Saul’s previous lack of perception. Jonathan’s skilled maneuvering in 1 Sam 20 continues his characterization as the savvy strategist who successfully hides David from Saul’s plan to murder him (1 Sam 19:1–7). Though Saul swears David will not die in 1 Sam 19:6, Jonathan has seen Saul depart from another vow (1 Sam 14:38–46).

Elaborated Evidence for the Literary Independence of 1 Samuel 24’s Grundschrift

1 Samuel 24 and 26 each describes an encounter in which David finds Saul in a vulnerable position and spares his life. The similarities between the two stories have generated intense debate on whether chapter 24 is dependent on chapter 26 or vice versa. This paper explores this question through a redaction critical analysis of 1 Samuel 24. It argues that the Grundschrift of 1 Samuel 24 contains a narrative which was originally embedded in one of the two main strands in the History of the Rise of David (HDR). One of the diagnostic features of this HDR strand, as proposed by Jeremy Hutton, is that David remains alone during his time in the wilderness of Judah and there was no militia with him as he moved around. As part of this HDR strand, the Grundschrift of 1 Samuel 24 therefore describes an encounter between Saul and David alone. The additional materials which refer to other characters in chapter 24 were secondarily added to the Grundschrift by later redactors as links between the two HDR strands. The blind motifs and other materials, which cast chapter 24 as dependent on the narrative in chapter 26, are limited to these secondary materials and, as such, the Grundschrift of chapter 24 itself is independent of chapter 26.

Reading 1 Samuel 28 as a Necro-Invocation Ritual

Over the past several decades, scholarship has greatly expanded our understanding of how the living were thought to interact with the dead in the ancient Near East as a whole. Some of our most fascinating examples come from Ugarit, where necro-invocation is demonstrated both in the familial context and in the royal succession context. This scholarship naturally informs our reading of texts in the Hebrew Bible which refer to contact with the dead. Saul’s encounter with the necromancer at Endor serves as the clearest example of this type of communication.  It provides a rare glimpse into an Israelite-era practice that is clearly condemned and therefore mostly absent in the Hebrew Bible, except as a literary device (e.g., Isaiah 14:9).

This current paper engages in a comparative thematic and linguistic analysis of 1 Samuel 28:3–25. It draws from several examples where the dead are contacted in Ugaritic literature to propose a common West-Semitic necro-invocation ritual. It then seeks to analyze Saul’s encounter with the necromancer through the lens of this ritual. In doing so, several odd features in the text can be seen in a new light. Saul’s hunger (v. 20ff) is recast as a key component of the ritual. The meal prepared by the necromancer can be seen as a sacrificial meal to benefit the deceased in the netherworld. Finally, the terror of the necromancer can be attributed to suddenly realizing Saul’s true identity as the necro-invocation ritual required that an heir of Samuel be present to call him up.

David’s Lament in 2 Samuel 1 and the Women’s Laments of the Iliad

Over the last decade, research into eastern Mediterranean poetic connectivity has established the dependence of Homer and Hesiod on Near Eastern predecessors, as well as the means by which this oral poetry was transmitted. This paper builds upon this recent work, bringing the archaic poetry of Ancient Israel into the conversation through the genre of the lament over the fallen warrior.

In the Iliad (c. 8th C. BCE), a specific thematic form is used when a woman is quoted delivering a lament over a hero who has fallen in battle. This lament follows a highly specific pattern, not found in men’s mourning speeches: the woman begins and ends her speech in direct address to the fallen hero, calling him by name or title, with a form of the phrase “you have fallen”; the center of the lament consists of a short discourse on the hero’s life; and the poem ends with a parting note of intimacy. This pattern, though absent from other Near Eastern laments, appears in the single full lament over an individual that is quoted in the Hebrew Bible, David’s lament over Saul and Jonathan (c. 10th-8th C. BCE). This paper proposes that these texts belong to a shared theme between early Greek and Hebrew poetry. Through this comparison, new questions are raised not only regarding the connection of biblical poetry to the wider eastern Mediterranean world, but also the interpretation of the lament, and ultimately David’s characterization as one who laments using a woman’s form of poetry.

Saturday, April 27th — Short Papers Session 4
8:30–10:30 am
Memorial Union


The Literary Background of 2 Samuel 8:1–14 in Light of the Ancient South Arabian Royal Memorial Inscriptions

Scholars such as Halpern and Edenburg note that conceptual parallels between 2 Sam 8 and ANE royal inscriptions may enlighten our understanding of the literary background of this passage which researchers often reconstruct by assuming an editorial compilation of earlier chronistic material. While the former argues that the source of 2 Sam 8 may be identified with a West Semitic display inscription, the latter understands the Deuteronomistic editorial process of this passage to be shaped by a knowledge of Neo-Assyrian scribal conventions.

However, their conclusions pertaining to the literary history of 2 Sam 8 remain largely unconvincing due to the general nature of their observations. Rather than analyzing structural and rhetorical parallels between the known WS royal inscriptions and 2 Sam 8, Halpern’s and Edenburg’s works point to general loci of royal ideology in the ANE. On the basis of such observations, necessary conclusions regarding the literary history of 2 Sam 8 cannot be established.

In this paper, I will, therefore, demonstrate the presence of specific structural and literary parallels between 2 Sam 8 and a particular (often overlooked) type of WS royal epigraphs: the Old Sabaic texts. Since the Old Sabaic royal memorial inscriptions (RES 3945/3946 and DAI Ṣirwāḥ 2005-50) significantly enhance our understanding of the WS monumental epigraphs and, therefore, the relationship between 2 Sam 8 and its WS literary background, an examination of these will be beneficial.

Specifically, I will point out parallels in structure and formulaic language between 2 Sam 8 and the Old Sabaic royal memorial inscriptions such as: a) the division of the text into two segments describing royal military achievements and the accumulation of property; b) the usage of the third grammatical person; c) the usage of the verb “to defeat” (Heb. נכה; Sab. mḫḍ) to structure the first segment; d) the insertion of narrative material of a secondary nature; e) a similar application of formulaic language to express: a tributary relationship, the dedication of property, and the building of fortification systems; and f) the presence of conceptual and ideological similarities including: the reaching of a distant body of water, using chance to determine the fate of enemy people, and using high numbers to express the quantity of booty.

This comparison will provide evidence of a close resemblance between the structure and rhetoric of 2 Sam 8:1-14 and the Old Sabaic royal memorial inscriptions and, therefore, demonstrate that the literary history of this chapter must be reconstructed against the broader background of the scribal production of West Semitic royal memorial epigraphs.

Women, Food and Power in the Book of Samuel

As food theorist and anthropologist Carole Counihan says, “across history and cultures, women have a special relationship to food, and a particularly vivid experience of their bodies” (Counihan and van Esterik 1997:3). Others have suggested that food is one the first ways that human beings learn to “do gender” but that this particularly close association with one gender means that to a certain extent, food is “recognizably womanly” (Inness 2001:9). Given this assertion, we can ask, to what extent is this the case for biblical women? This paper explores the close association between women and food in biblical narrative—in particular, the pinnacle of biblical prose narrative which is the Book of Samuel, which features a number of stories where women interact with food in significant ways. This paper practices a literary feminist reading of these four significant food narratives in 1 and 2 Samuel: Hannah (1 Samuel 1–2), Abigail (1 Samuel 25), the Necromancer at Endor (1 Samuel 28) and Tamar (2 Samuel 13). Because literary characters do not need to eat to live, this study asks what is conveyed or accomplished by the presence and manipulation of food in biblical narrative. By reading these food narratives alongside one another, patterns become apparent: these narratives weave the ways in which vulnerability, feeding work, and power to determine one’s fate are related to

one another together in complex ways. Drawing on concepts from the growing field of food studies will help to situate these literary patterns in the broader framework of food and food work, not just as a fact of daily life, but as a potent aspect of human community where gender roles and power dynamics are both communicated and critiqued.

Prophets from the North: A Linguistic Analysis of Potential Features of Israelian Hebrew in Antony Campbell’s Prophetic Record

In his 1986 monograph Of Prophets and Kings, Antony Campbell proposes a pre-Deuteronomistic redaction of the books of Samuel-Kings, which he dates to the late ninth century BCE and associates with prophetic circles in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Using a series of literary connections between several narrative episodes, he argues that the layer details the history of the monarchy up to the rise of Jehu to the northern throne (1 Sam 1–2 Kgs 10) with a noted emphasis on the role of prophetic figures in designating and rejecting various kings. The goal of this paper will be to extend the analysis of this proposed redactional layer through a study of its linguistic character. Specifically, the project will adduce instances of a potential northern Hebrew dialect (termed Israelian Hebrew by Gary Rendsburg) to evaluate Campbell’s claim that this layer is to be associated with northern prophetic groups. As suggested by Rendsburg, this northern dialect can be distinguished through its linguistic contrast with the southern dialect of Judah, embodied in Standard Biblical Hebrew, and detectable interference resulting from contact with languages of neighboring polities, specifically Aramaic. To analyze the linguistic character of Campbell’s prophetic record, this paper will apply Rendsburg’s hypothesis to identify elements in these texts that diverge from features of Standard Biblical Hebrew and demonstrate potential parallels with contemporary forms of Aramaic. At the conclusion of the study, this linguistic evidence will then be presented in connection with Campbell’s geographic and chronological conclusions.

Jesus as a New Samuel: Luke’s Reception of 1 Samuel

While scholars focus on how Luke uses allusions to the prophets to set Jesus up as a prophet, few studies have looked at echoes or allusions to 1 Samuel in the first two chapters of Luke. This paper attempts to remedy that condition by examining Luke’s reception of 1 Samuel. Ancient authors such as Philo, Pseudo-Philo, and Josephus, as well as works such as the Vision of Samuel, 4 Ezra, and the Wisdom of Ben Sira, allude to and discuss the characters of Hannah and Samuel. Like his contemporaries, Luke mimics and alludes to the characters of Hannah and Samuel in crafting the beginning of his gospel. In this paper, I will look at how Luke alludes to the Song of Hannah (1 Sam 2:1–10) in the song of Mary (Lk 1:46–55), imitates the character of Hannah with his character of Anna (Lk 2:36–38), and mimics the presentation of Samuel in Shiloh (1 Sam 1: 24–28) in the story of the boy Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem (Lk 2:41–52), in order to mark the shift of the kingdom brought about by the birth of Jesus. Through this, I will show how Luke broadens the portrayal of Jesus in his gospel. Rather than just portraying Jesus as a prophet or a king, Luke uses 1 Samuel to make Jesus kingdom bringer—the announcer and anointer of the coming kingdom.