A Narrative Criticism of 1 Samuel 9:1-21

analytical Essay
1926 words
1926 words

To engross oneself in the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures is to be absorbed into a world of literature, a world in which the events of many thousands of years past are relived and re-experienced in the imagination of the reader and of the listener. Within this rich ability to form our imaginations exists techniques and features identified through scholarship and used by authors to evoke, reflect, instruct and suggest this reality into its fullness, and it is the way that these are used in the narrative of 1 Samuel 9:1-21 to which we will now turn our attention. Identified in the NRSV translation of the Bible as the narrative in which “Saul [is] chosen to be King” we find in this text the first story of Saul’s call to kingship and the circumstances around it . Throughout this narrative, the author, or perhaps more accurately, editor(s) , evokes a number of literary features to build a story and to portray the character of Saul. In this essay, we will focus on the features of the narrative’s folklorist character, the use of type-scene, the presence of suspense and anticipation and the motif of providence, exploring how these affect the story and how they portray the character of Saul.

Before beginning this essay proper, it is important to roughly outline the underlying methodology of Narrative Criticism that will be used in our interpretation of 1 Samuel 9:1-21. Narrative Criticism, as opposed to many other forms of biblical criticism, is focused primarily on the world of the text, that is, the story world as created by the narrative . This leads the interpreter to immerse her or himself in this world, suspending disbelief as one would in a fictional story to elicit the authors intended meaning with less reference to histo...

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...ok of Samuel: A Literary Study of Comparative Structures, Analogies and Parallels. Jerusalem: Rubin Mass Ltd, 1990.

Gilmour, Rachelle. "Suspense and Anticipation in 1 Samuel 9:1-14." The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 9 (January 2009).

LaSor, William Sanford, David Allan Hubbard, and Frederic William Bush. Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament. 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing co., 1996.

Mark, Strom. The Symphony of Scripture: Making sense of the Bible's many themes. Phillpsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001.

Powell, Mark Allan. What is Narrative Criticism? Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1990.

Robert, Alter. The Art of Biblical Narrative. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1981.

Rogerson, J. W., and Judith M. (ed) Lieu. The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how engrossing oneself in the stories of the hebrew scriptures is to be absorbed into a world of literature, where the events of thousands of years past are re-experienced by the reader and listener.
  • Outlines the underlying methodology of narrative criticism that will be used in their interpretation of 1 samuel 9:1-21.
  • Analyzes the transition between the leadership of the prophet samuel and the eventual king saul in the book of 1 samuel.
  • Analyzes how the narrative of 1 samuel 9:1-21 establishes saul as an acceptable king through a folklorist description.
  • Analyzes how the folklorist introduction to the narrative tempers the editors support of saul, primarily found in the story of his endeavour to find his father’s donkeys, culminating in a scene at the well.
  • Analyzes the use of suspense and anticipation in 1 samuel 9:1-21 as a means of drawing the ideal reader further into the story world.
  • Analyzes how the motif of providence evokes a sense of destiny around the character of saul in the mind of the reader.
  • Analyzes how the editor(s) of the narrative in 1 samuel 9:1-21 have used literary features to draw the reader deeper into the story world and suggest a general understanding of saul as king and the monarchy as divinely willed.
  • States that rogerson, j. w., and judith m. (eds) lieu. the oxford handbook of biblical studies. new york, ny: oxford university press, 2006.
  • Introduces abingdon press' the new interpreter's dictionary of the bible.

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