Lesson 23- 1 Samuel 18-24
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Transcript (wasn’t linked before)
Notes and References
History writing and historiography (mentioned in podcast, but not discussed. Skip down to continue with podcast notes)-
“What were the ancient conventions for writing history? What did it mean to record history? What can be called good or accurate history writing by standards that were in existence when the Bible was written?” -Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament (highly recommended).
Robert Alter, Art of Biblical Narrative–
“What the Bible offers us is an uneven continuum and a constant interweaving of factual
historical detail (especially, but by no means exclusively, for the later periods) with purely legendary ‘history’; occasional enigmatic vestiges of mythological lore; etiological stories; archetypal fictions of the founding fathers of the nation; folktales of heroes and wonder-working men of God; verisimilar inventions of wholly fictional personages attached to the progress of national history; and fictionalized versions of known historical figures. All of these narratives are presented as history, that is, as things that really happened and that have some significant consequence for human or Israelite destiny. The only evident exceptions to this rule are Job, which in its very stylization seems manifestly a philosophic fable (hence the rabbinic dictum ‘There was no such creature as Job; he is a parable’) and Jonah, which, with its satiric and fantastic exaggerations, looks like a parabolic illustration of the prophetic calling and God’s universality.”
“Nevertheless, these stories are not, strictly speaking, historiography, but rather the imaginative reenactment of history by a gifted writer who organizes his materials along certain thematic biases and according to his own remarkable intuition of the psychology of the characters. He feels entirely free, one should remember, to invent interior monologue for his characters; to ascribe feeling, intention, or motive to them when he chooses; to supply verbatim dialogue (and he is one of literature’s masters of dialogue) for occasions when no one but the actors themselves could have had knowledge of exactly what was said. The author of the David stories stands in basically the same relation to Israelite history as Shakespeare stands to English history in his history plays. Shakespeare was obviously not free to have Henry V lose the battle of Agincourt, or to allow someone else to lead the English forces there, but, working from the hints of historical tradition, he could invent a kind of Bildungsroman for the young Prince Hal; surround him with invented characters that would serve as foils, mirrors, obstacles, aids in his development; create a language and a psychology for the king which are the writer’s own achievement, making out of the stuff of history a powerful projection of human possibility. That is essentially what the author of the David cycle does for David, Saul, Abner, Joab, Jonathon, Absalom, Michal, Abigail, and a host of other
Proverbs 6:16- “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him.” How many items in the that following list of things the Lord hates? Seven.
Michael= “Who is like God?”
Michal= “brook” or “stream”
“Jonathan here gives to David the clothing that symbolizes his role as crown prince and his claim to the throne” – See Stan Rummel, “Clothes Maketh the Man- An Insight from Ugarit” Biblical Archaeology Review, 2:02 (June 1976) and Ora Horn Prouser, “Clothes Maketh the Man- Keys to Meaning in the Stories of Saul and David” Bible Review 14:01 (February 1998).
On the Joseph Smith Translation (JST)
Robert J. Matthews (left), JST scholar and author of “A Plainer Translation”: Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, a History and Commentary (1975) and co-author with Kent Jackson and Scott Faulring of Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible- Original Manuscripts. (Intro available here, with expanded information on what I reproduce below.)
What can the JST represent?
- Restoration of original text, although they add that “Joseph Smith did not restore the very words of lost texts, because they were in Hebrew or Greek (or other ancient languages), and the new Translation was to be in English. Thus his translation, in the English idiom of his own day, would restore the meaning and the message of original passages but not necessarily the literary trappings that accompanied them when they were first put to writing.”
- Restoration of something once said or done but which was never in the Bible.
- Editing to make the Bible more understandable for modern readers. In this case, as they point out, the JST changes the original text. “An example might include 1 Thessalonians 5:26, in which “Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss” is changed to “Greet all the brethren with a holy salutation” It is likely that the King James text here accurately represents Paul’s original word and intent. Yet to modern Western readers, unaccustomed to Mediterranean displays of friendship and brotherhood, Paul’s word might miscommunicate and misdirect, and thus the Prophet made a change.”
- Editing to bring biblical wording into harmony with truth found in other revelations or elsewhere in the Bible. Like #3, this is likely modifying how the original text read.
- Changes to provide modern readers teachings that were not written by original authors.
Ein Gedi where David hides in a cave and Saul comes in to “cover his feet.
“David cut the hem of Saul’s cloak to prove that he could easily have killed Saul if he had wanted to, but that he would not harm the Lord’s anointed. The passage has a deeper significance, however—in some ways the opposite significance. The hem that David cut off was an extension of Saul’s person and authority. David did in fact harm the Lord’s anointed; that is why David immediately felt remorse for what he had done: “Afterward David reproached himself for having cut off the hem of Saul’s cloak” (1 Samuel 24:6). According to the New English Bible translation, David’s “conscience smote him” (1 Samuel 24:7). Although protesting that he had not lifted a finger or a hand against the Lord’s anointed (1 Samuel 24:10), David had in fact committed a symbolic act—cutting off Saul’s hem—of enormous significance. This significance was not lost on King Saul; he understood full well: “Now I know that you will become king”- Jacob Milgrom “Of Hem’s and Tassels” Biblical Archaeology Review 09:03 (May/June 1983)
“Cover the feet”= “go to the bathroom”, not take a nap.
On Aids and Helps, like Chapter Headings
[Who produced the chapter headings? “I think it would be no breach of etiquette or of confidentiality if I were to say with pleasure that Elder Bruce R. McConkie produced those headings. Now I don’t know anybody else who could do it so well.” Robert Matthews, text of a roundtable discussion printed in Monte S. Nyman and Robert L. Millet, The Joseph Smith Translation, p.300]
Speaking of “the Joseph Smith Translation items, the chapter headings, Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, footnotes, the Gazeteer, and the maps,” said, “None of these are perfect; they do not of themselves determine doctrine; there have been and undoubtedly now are mistakes in them. Cross-references, for instance, do not establish and never were intended to prove that parallel passages so much as pertain to the same subject. They are aids and helps only.” -“The Bible, a Sealed Book” in Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, 290.
What about the Bible Dictionary? From the intro– The Bible Dictionary “is not intended as an official or revealed endorsement by the Church of the doctrinal, historical, cultural, and other matters set forth. Many of the items have been drawn from the best available scholarship of the world and are subject to reevaluation based on new research and discoveries or on new revelation. The topics have been carefully selected and are treated briefly. If an elaborate discussion is desired, the student should consult a more exhaustive dictionary.”
Next week, David, Bathsheba, and Psalm 51.