This volume sets out to build on some of the best insights from recent biblical interpretation. These show up in the concern for close attention to the present text, in the concern to show due respect for the text's past, and in the concern to focus on the fundamental questions of the text's form and meaning.
At present, we can no longer be satisfied with the old patterns of biblical exegesis. Ways are needed to combine appropriately the insights of literary analysis with those of developmental analysis in the service of meaning. This book, coming out of the form-critical stable, is an attempt to explore new patterns. Two aspects facilitate the literary process. First, the text is not atomized. It is dealt with in its larger units, whether of sense or story, where meaning is to be found. Second, the text is not fragmented into a hypothetical past. It is dealt with substantially as it now exists, as present text. At the same time, a couple of centuries of modern research are not ignored; they have uncovered a history of the text that no postmodern should want to claim as non-existent. The opening to union between present and past is the recognition of the high level of intelligence and skill used by the editors who shaped the past traditions into the present text. Finally, the basic questions of form criticism are constantly asked: What sort of a text is this? What is its shape or structure? What does it mean?
In the experience of many, no narrative texts in the Older Testament are more stirring and more challenging than those in the books of Samuel.
In the person of Samuel, they deal with the emergence of the figure of the prophet, so significant in the religion, politics, and literature of Israel. In the person of David, they deal with the emergence of the figure of the king, the head of central government in ancient Israel, both north and south.
The overall structure of the books is centered in the monarchy, begun with Saul and established with David. The role of the prophet is central to the . . .