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David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory


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  • Date Published: January 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107672635

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About the Authors
  • Of all the Bible's personalities, David is the most profoundly human. Courageous, cunning, and complex, he lives life to the hilt. Whatever he does, he does with all his might, exuding both vitality and vulnerability. No wonder it has been said that Israel revered Moses yet loved David. But what do we now know about the historical David? Why does his story stand at the center of the Bible? Why didn't the biblical authors present him in a more favorable light? And what is the special connection between him and Caleb - the Judahite hero remembered for his valor during the wars of conquest? In this groundbreaking study, Jacob L. Wright addresses all these questions and presents a new way of reading the biblical accounts. His work compares the function of these accounts to the role war memorials play over time. The result is a rich study that treats themes of national identity, statehood, the exercise of power, and the human condition.

    • Treats King David, one of the greatest figures in the imagination of the West
    • Shows the rivalry between David and Caleb in biblical memory
    • Presents a new model for understanding the formation of biblical literature, one based on interdisciplinary research on war commemoration
    • Suggests a new approach to biblical studies, one informed by questions from the discipline of Jewish studies
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    • Honourable Mention, 2015 PROSE Award for Theology and Religious Studies

    Reviews & endorsements

    'In engaging, limpid prose occasionally seasoned with humor, Wright argues that the stories of David and Caleb in the Tanakh were efforts in nation building. At the heart of Wright's argument is 'war commemoration'. Depicting characters as either helping or hindering David in one of his many military endeavors is, according to Wright, a key means by which individuals and communities were deemed to be part of, or outside, the people of Israel by the postexilic redactors of Samuel 1 and 2 and Kings 1 and 2. In narratives featuring Caleb, Wright explores how redactors transformed this Kenizzite, or outsider, into an exemplary Judahite, or insider. Wright bases his readings on a 'supplementation' model of textual development rather than the traditional documentary hypothesis. The result is a fresh and fruitful perspective on ways David and Caleb were used to construct Israelite peoplehood after Judah and the Temple were destroyed by the Babylonians. Wright succeeds in making painstaking textual inquiry into a stimulating book for general readers and experts alike.' Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107672635
    • length: 284 pages
    • dimensions: 213 x 137 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Slings and arrows - remembering King David
    2. Flesh and stone - from war monuments to the David story
    3. King of Judah - the earliest account of David's life
    4. Tales of loyalty and betrayal - the cases of Keilah and Ziph
    5. The bones of Saul - the loyalty of the Gileadites
    6. Uriah the Hittite - a tale of royal modesty
    7. Ittai the Gittite - mercenary allegiance versus national solidarity
    8. David in exile - priests, statehood, and the Benjaminites
    9. Territorial transitions - the Transjordan, Israel, and Judah
    10. Chronicles - David as a catalyst of national unity
    11. Caleb and the conquest - inventing a new hero
    12. Caleb the warrior - the evolution of legends
    13. Caleb the Judahite - an iconic figure
    14. War-torn David - conclusions.

  • Author

    Jacob L. Wright, Emory University, Atlanta
    Dr Jacob L. Wright teaches Hebrew Bible and Jewish studies at Emory University, where he is a member of the faculty of distinction. His first book, Rebuilding Identity: The Nehemiah Memoir and its Earliest Readers, was awarded The John Templeton Award for one of the best first books in religion and theology. For his research on war commemoration, he received a prestigious faculty fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


    • Honourable Mention, 2015 PROSE Award for Theology and Religious Studies

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