Hannah, Samuel, and Saul in 1 Sam 1:1-2:11a*

 

hannah-praying-woodcutI have posted the first installment to my series on the literary history of 1 Sam 1:1-4:1*. The introduction to the series can be found here and the first installment on 1 Sam 1:1-2:11a* here. In order to illustrate the discussion of particular units and verses in the body of the paper and show how the textual and literary evidence all fits together, I have also created hypothetical versions of the different stages of the text here.

Some of the highlights and main contributions of my study of these chapters so far include:

–I have found two main compositional layers behind these chapters, first an early source originally belonging to a Saul narrative and then a Dtr adaptation of that source into a Samuel narrative. The Dtr adaptation is then followed by separate redactional trajectories reflected in the LXX, MT, and 4QSama.

–The early source underlies material in each of the three chapters of 1 Sam 1:1-4:1a, though it is in a fragmentary state and no longer reconstructable as a continuous narrative.

–I believe I have offered the strongest argument to date for identifying the original child of the birth story as Saul rather than Samuel, and further argue that the location of the temple that Saul was brought to was near Gibeon rather than Shiloh.

–I have found that the Samuel narrative of 1 Sam 1:1-4:1a, to distinguish it from the early source, was likely always part of a broader Dtr narrative that included parts of the book of Judges.

–The MT recension has an abbreviatory character in terms of its preservation of the earlier Dtr Samuel narrative.

–In terms of the history of ideas, the early source seems surprisingly comfortable with iconolatrous religious practice and cult, whereas the later Dtr adaptation and subsequent redaction, particularly in the MT, becomes progressively more stringent and rigorous in its theological outlook.

–The lifelong nazirite dedication of the child is likely secondary to the narrative. Originally the child was dedicated for temple service during his childhood as a form of “child sacrifice”.

–Part of the song of Hannah seems to have been original to the early source and was not imported from elsewhere, contrary to the general thinking of much critical scholarship, though it has clearly been a focus of redactional interest.

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2 comments on “Hannah, Samuel, and Saul in 1 Sam 1:1-2:11a*

  1. Dudley MCLEAN says:

    Insightful. Thinking of the implications of the birth narrative of Saul and his selection as king. What does it tell of his “mission?”

    Like

    • Ryan Thomas says:

      Thanks for the comment Dudley.

      I think the birth narrative genre points to Saul’s role as a deliverer of his people, and in fact there are indications that the narrative originally portrayed him in this role more emphatically and positively. His royal career followed an arc, rising to become an exemplary leader of Israel who defended from the Philistine threat and then finally falling before David as kind of a tragic figure. However, most of this earlier narrative arc has been obscured by the Dtr author and the picture of Saul in the present form of Samuel is largely negative.

      Like

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