Friday, November 03, 2006

David: A hermeneutic Entree into Scripture

I recently finished a short project I was doing for WJK Press, which had me thinking again about the Bible's presentation of David. I wanted to blog a few thoughts on King David as a hermeneutic entree into the relevance of Scripture.

The character of David's portrait in Bible invites the reader to identify with the figure in all his humanity. David is so often presented in Scripture not as a great king, but as a human with a real soul in whom readers can see their own struggles and pain.

Brevard Childs was right when he famously argued that those who added the superscriptions linking certain psalms to events in David's life did us all a real hermeneutical service. Those intra-biblical links to a real soul, in real human predicaments, greatly helps us use the psalms in our own painful struggles of life.

Walter Brueggemann captures this archetypical, "accessible" character of David well in his recently (2002) reissued book, David's Truth. Here is one quote that I like:

"This narrative [of the Bathsheba disaster], which focuses stunningly on this person, does so in a way that lets David become a model or paradigm for humanness. It is precisely the concreteness, when it rings true, that permits generalization and identification. I have, in another setting, argued that the David of this narrative provides the main clues for the understanding of the narratives of Genesis 2-11, and that these primal narratives in part are a generalizing of this story and this man. Thus, I suggest that the narratives in Genesis quite intentionally drew out the insights of this royal interiority." (pp. 38-39)

Brueggemann's last point here started to grow on me as I read it and re-read it. It makes sense in light of the shared theology of the "J" circle and the writers of the "A" source of Samuel (as argued for by many, and recently in a book by R. E. Friedman).

One important but controversial theme in both Gen 2ff. and the Bathsheba story is that of "original sin." Both texts share a theology of sin's power to escalate and domino and entangle every human person in their own web of selfishness and cover-up. This latter dynamic was the topic that I was writing on for WJK.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

The David/Genesis project sounds very interesting. Personally, I found Rosenberg's King and Kin to be the most helpful reflection on this issue that I've seen, but I'd be interested in seeing a more sustained theological reflection on this connection than is out there currently.


Sun Nov 05, 11:54:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Thank you! --Steve

Sun Nov 05, 02:21:00 PM GMT-5  

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