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King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – August 28, 2001
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The difficulty of bringing into perspective figures that are larger than life is well known to Jonathan Kirsch, the author of a life of Moses and of the provocative biblical study The Harlot by the Side of the Road. In this well-researched narrative he attempts the same for King David, arguably the most important figure in the entire Jewish Bible. By searching for the real King David, Kirsch does not claim to bring new information to this study. He is more journalist than biblical scholar, and clearly acknowledges when he is speculating (as, for example, in his reconstruction of the scene when David first glimpses the beautiful Bathsheba). Rather, he wants to remind his readers that David is not myth but flesh and blood and is, astonishingly, presented this way in the biblical texts themselves. He is real, human, both heroic and flawed.
Following much of modern scholarship in calling the Bible "a patchwork of ancient texts that were composed and compiled by countless authors and editors," this study is clearly not going to appeal to most fundamentalist readers. Neither is it intended for scholars. It should, however, satisfy many readers who wish to explore more deeply the fascinating and pivotal life of a very real man, a charismatic leader who, as one historian puts it, "played exquisitely, fought heroically, and loved titanically." --Doug Thorpe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In this biography/commentary hybrid, Kirsch sheds light on biblical characters and gives readers a refresher course on Israel's monarchic period, from 1025 to 925 BCE. Arguing that the Old Testament may have originated as David's royal biography, Kirsch cites dozens of Bible scholars in his attempt to separate history from myth. The two myths he examines most closely are those cultivated by a "Court Historian" who embellished David's exploits to make him seem more kingly than he was, and those written by the "Deuteronomistic Historian," who revised the ancient texts about David to downplay his bad behavior and emphasize the sovereignty of Yahweh. Kirsch's citation of experts is dutiful but frustrating; only rarely does he mention the schools of thought to which his sources belong, which excludes readers from a crucial dimension of any intellectual debate. Kirsch's agenda is murky as well; it is never entirely clear whether he wishes to find the truth about David and extrapolate didactic messages or simply make a sport of listing the various and contradictory readings of his life. It may be that Kirsch eschews these complicated questions in the service of accessibility, and for that he can be forgiven, since secular books about the Bible are often inaccessible to all but a handful of scholars. This book, on the other hand, welcomes a wide audience to a scandalous, violent and surprisingly familiar ancient Israel, and both educates and entertains. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
very good reading, i could not put it down