Methods in biblical scholarship

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Tue Dec 28 16:31:34 EST 1999

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re[7]: Methods in biblical scholarship
Author:  <mc2499 at> at Internet
Date:    28/12/1999 07:00


>>As NPL pointed out Samuel died in 1Sam25, so did he also report his own 
>>PK: Who before NPL has ever claimed that Samuel did write the books of 
>So Samuel is another pseudepigraphic work, like Enoch, right? 
>PK: No, because "pseudepigraphic" means that the book contains within 
>its text a false attribution of authorship. Samuel was merely given a 
>name, which was probably never intended to suggest authorship.

OK, pseudonymous, like Jubilees, also misclassified as pseudepigraphic...

PK: No, not pseudonymous, not pseudepigraphic, but anonymous.

.. (though one might wonder about the significance of "the book of Samuel 
the Seer")...

PK: What significance? I assume you are referring to 1 Chronicles 
29:29. This might have been a quite different book; or the book we now 
know as "Samuel" may be a composite of "the records of the seer 
Samuel,... the records of the prophet Nathan, and ... the records of 
the seer Gad". That is some speculative external attestation of 
multiple authorship.

.. Nevertheless, would you like to contemplate a single author who wrote in 
one chapter that Saul, after failing to get his armour-bearer to kill him, 
finally kills himself and is followed by the armour-bearer in death, wrote 
in the chapter immediately following that Saul was killed by a just happened 
to be there resident alien Amalekite stranger who came and told David and 
who David in turn immediately killed?...

PK: Obvious. The Amalekite was obviously lying in the hope of a 
reward. Anyway, your objection applies equally to a redacted version.

.. Would the same writer have forgotten that David killed Goliath and go on 
to say that El-hanan son of Ja'are-oregim actually killed Goliath? Perhaps 
our writer was only a redactor or rewriter writing a long time after the 
events and drawing on written sources that had developed dealing with the 
deaths of Goliath and Saul. The Davidic materials at the end of 2Sam have 
all the appearance of early traditions that a redactor had come across after 
the writing of the main body of work and stuck the material on at the end -- 
especially when you consider that the immediately prior material in 2Sam23 
gives us the *last words* of David.

PK: This is a possible speculative and unprovable explanation for 2 Samuel 
23:8-38 and perhaps also chapter 21. One thing we do know about these 
passages is that they are textually corrupt and very different in places 
from their parallels in Chronicles. In places such as 21:19 which seem to 
contradict both 1 Samuel 17 and the Chronicles parallel, I think we have 
reasonable grounds (though not proof) to propose that the text is corrupt.

>>>And not trying to support the widespread use of the DH, have you got a 
>>>better explanation for the doublets and triplets in the literature?
>>PK: Yes: the hand of a skilled writer who knew how his own language 
>>worked much better than you or me.
>This doesn't seem like a better explanation, just dogma unfortunately. Try 
>it with Abram and Sarai in Egypt, or Abraham and Sarah in Gerar, or Isaac 
>and Rebekah in Gerar.
>PK: I could say exactly the same about the DH explanation. For this 
>triplet, as I said recently on this list, I guess that the author was 
>trying to make the point of how some people never learn their lessons.

What lessons do you get out of this story told three times, Peter? That it 
was ok for patriarchs to lie and gain from their lying? It's incredible to 
me that you take this attitude to the story in its three guises. But then 
I'd read the above as you admitting between the lines that you don't take 
the information as having actually happened, if it is only an "author" 
trying to make a point.

>>Plus some cases in which history
>>actually came close to repeating itself - that does happen, you know. 
>I can see you're a gambling man.
>PK: No, though with a cert like this one I would be tempted.

Certifiable, for sure. Abraham doesn't remember having done the same thing 
in Egypt as he is about to try in Gerar? Perhaps he remembers, but doesn't 
remember the consequences? Or perhaps he remembers even the consequences, 
"hey pass off my wife as my sister and I'll get all sorts of goodies out of 
these rascals when they find out what they were actually doing just like 
what happened with pharaoh"? But then, this ruse was originally an attempt 
at safety (just as it was for Isaac).

PK: The lesson is simple here as well. Abraham failed to learn from 
his mistake in Egypt and tried the same trick at Gerar. Isaac failed 
to learn from his father's double mistake and tried the same trick 
himself. The three times repetition (maybe historically it happened 
more than three times!) was used by the author as part of his literary 
skill to underline the stupidity of such action, which is clearly 
condemned in the text.



Peter Kirk

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