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Book Reviews

David Remembered: Kingship and National Identity in Ancient Israel

Author: Joseph Blenkinsopp

David Remembered: Kingship and National Identity in Ancient Israel, by Joseph Blenkinsopp. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013. 219 pp.

     David Remembered is one of the more interesting books I have read in quite some time! Initially, though I was somewhat bewildered as I thought the book would be more about the person David. In reality, it is more concerned with how the reign of David was remembered by the various groups of writers who, according to Blenkinsopp, composed the Old Testament during the Exile Period, the Intertestament period, and even the Gospel writers. The presuppositions of this book suggests that writers of the Old Testament, Intertestament texts, and even the Gospels composed and redacted their writings dependent on their view of David and his messianic characteristics. For instance, rather than looking at scripture as being composed during the time of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the scripture is viewed as a remembered history reflective of the political and religious viewpoints of the Exile Period redactors. Additionally, the same concept is used to analyze extrabiblical literature, (e.g., Psalms of Solomon, and the Damascus Document) that seems to rely on and refer to the political and/or messianic memory of the Davidic dynasty.

     One example of this "remembering David" concept is how political alliances, specifically to either Saul or David, impacted the individual redactors and therefore their writing of the scripture. This theme where Saul is pitted against David, Benjamin against Judah, Jeremiah against Zedekiah permeates much of the book. At times, the constant demonstration that the scripture was composed of various redactors seem to be an attempt at validating the various document hypothesizes that biblical interpreters have created in their attempts to understand how the composition of scripture. As stated originally by Ulrich (2001: 58):    

critical study of the text of Scripture demonstrates that the books (of the Bible) are the result of a long literary development, whereby traditional material was faithfully retold and handed on from generation to generation, but also creatively expanded and reshaped to fit the new circumstances and new needs that the successive communities experienced through the vicissitudes of history. So the process of the composition of the Scriptures was organic, developmental, and contained successive layers of tradition.

     Using this approach ultimately leads the analyst to generate a host of unanswered questions related to the different descriptions or renderings of how the scripture was developed.

     The same concept of "remembering David" is applied to the Intertestament writings and the gospels, thus resulting in various declarations based upon the writers political, messianic, and eschatological bent. Of interest is the author's suggestion that the gospel writers were "remembering David" when composing the gospels. He contrasts this idea with Rabbi Akiva, who when he recognized Bar Koziba as the messiah was not "remembering David" as the gospel writers did; rather he relied on the Balaam prophecy declared in Num 24:17.

     As mentioned earlier, I was somewhat bewildered when I first started to read the book, but over time I became exceedingly interested in the author's overall analytical framework. While not necessarily one that I would use, it is an exceptional methodology to assist in analyzing scripture and other documents classifying them according to the political, messianic, or eschatological understanding.

Donald C. McNeeley, Tidewater Bible College


Ulrich, E.
         2001      The Bible in the Making: The Scriptures Found at Qumran: Pp. 51–66 in The Bible at Qumran: Text, Shape and Interpretation, ed. P. W. Flint. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.