Old Testament

The Books of Samuel

Introduction to the Course – Discussion Questions

Questions for reflection:

1. Is it important whether the stories in the Books of Samuel are historical or not? If so, why?

2. Is it important that David is not depicted as a saintly figure, but as a complex and all too human character?

3. What light do these stories shed on the institution of the monarchy, and its strengths and weaknesses?

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Take notes on this lesson

2 Notes

  1. O.G.

    Response to questions above:

    1. Is it important whether the stories in the Books of Samuel are historical or not? If so, why?

    Yes, from a political, and historical basis, but not if all you are interested in is the story. It would probably be better for everyone if the stories weren’t true, and the people of the middle east dealt with each other in terms of co-existence in a land no one has biblical claim to – biblical claims with no merit in archaeological corroboration. No one has been chosen, no one has a Divine mandate. I prefer the fiction, and that the fiction be recognized as such, because it gives me greater leeway in embellishing the story. I’m a poet, after all.

    2. Is it important that David is not depicted as a saintly figure, but as a complex and all too human character?

    There is nothing about David to construe as saintly. The guy, as will be shown, was an adulterer, a murderer, a near regicide, a hugely ambitious ruler – quite the opposite of a saint. Besides, saints are a bit too one-dimensional to be of any use to fiction, or history – though we agree there’s not a lot of history (one stellae) to agree upon.

    3. What light do these stories shed on the institution of the monarchy, and its strengths and weaknesses?

    Remains to be seen. The intro doesn’t really go into detail as to the merits of the monarchy. We know, however, that all governments are faulty, and the best of them cohere various interests into a national whole, and go on to be more benign than tyrannical – though all are a combination of both, and are the exception.

  2. Dominic Flamiano

    1. The historical accuracy of the Books of Samuel are not as important as the narrative of the initiation of the kingship and the characters of David, Saul, etc.
    2. Portraying David as not only a hero warrior and king but as a complex and sinful man, needing of redemption is important. As is David the pslamist and lyre player is important to portray a fully alive human.
    3. Monarchy as a unifying force is important for the development of Isreal, the weakness of abuse of centralized power not balanced and checked by the will of the people is also illuminated.