REL 337W: Biblical Topics – King David, Fall 2011.    SYLLABUS.                       RJDKnauth
T/Th 9:45-11:35 am in B-309.  Office Hours M/W 10:30-11:30am, W 2:00-3:00pm in D-320.
Tel: 321-4298 (xGAYT), home: 326-3822 (DAN-DUBB), email:; web:


King David is a central figure in biblical history and literature, presenting a complex story of heroism, pathos and tragedy.  This course will explore the "multi-voiced truth" about the legendary character of King David as preserved in biblical tradition, seeking to place him in proper literary, historical, political and theological context.  We will use various scholarly approaches and methodologies to enlighten our understanding of the larger biblical message.  Using primarily the books of 1-2 Samuel, with parts of Judges and 1Kings (in the "Deuteronomistic History"), we will look at the development of David's character from various viewpoints in terms of the "charismatic leadership ideal," in contrast with Saul, Absalom and Solomon, and in the context of biblical debates over kingship and temple.  Brueggemann's commentary will represent the standard traditional Judeo-Christian perspective.  Halpern seeks to represent the alternative and more critical perspective of David's enemies.  Between them we will discover a complex character full of both human weakness and divine inspiration.  This is intended to be an upper-level seminar, which will be offered as writing intensive and thus will incorporate a variety of written assignments and attention to the writing process. 


Texts:  The use of a complete Bible (any version) will be required in class.
            Walter Brueggemann, I and II Samuel (1990)
            Baruch Halpern, David's Secret Demons - Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King (2001)


Recommended: Walter Brueggemann, David's Truth in Israel's Imagination and Memory (2nd ed. 2002)
                            Eugene Peterson, Leap Over a Wall (1997)                   - selected portions on reserve

                           Kyle McCarter, I Samuel and II Samuel (Anchor Bible - 1980, 1984) - on reserve
                             Robert Alter, The David Story (translation/commentary - 1999)         - on reserve
                            Stephen MacKenzie, King David - A Biography (2000)                      - on reserve

                             Richard Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible? (1987)                                    - on reserve
                            Richard Friedman, The Hidden Book in the Bible (1998)                    - on reserve 
                            Robert Polzin, David and the Deuteronomist (1993)


Some useful reference books which you can find in the library:

            Old Testament Survey, Hill & Walton                                                                   - on reserve
            Old Testament Parallels, Matthews & Benjamin (OTP)                                        - on reserve
            Ancient Near Eastern Texts, Pritchard (ANET)                                                     - on reserve
            Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, Frank Moore Cross (CMHE)                         - on reserve
            From Epic to Canon, Frank Moore Cross (E-C)                                                    - on reserve
            The Anchor Bible Dictionary  (ABD)                                                                   - reference
            New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible  (NIDB)                                               - reference
        The Anchor Bible commentary series                                                              - BS 192 in stacks 
        other commentaries                                                                                            - BS 1200 in stacks        

These will point the reader to further useful bibliography, as will the ATLA Religion Index
(look on the library web site under "databases").





REL337I Course Requirements:


1.      Attendance and informed participation (readings having been completed and reflected upon in writing in an informal journal) at all class sessions will be expected, worth 20% of the final grade.   Included in this participation grade will be some short in-class exercises, occasional short presentations, an informal journal (spot-checked), and regular discussion.  The attendance policy for this course is that there are no excused absences without a written note from a doctor or parent/guardian regarding a serious family or medical emergency (e.g. requiring hospitalization).  Each set of 2 absences (or 4 partial absences) lowers your final grade by 1%.


2.      There will be 6 short assignments, a paper proposal, annotated bibliography, 2 peer reviews and a self-evaluation, worth a total of 20% of the final grade.  Assignments should be approx. 2 pgs each, typed, due in class on Thursdays, and will be the basis for class discussion on that day.  Late assignments will be accepted, but penalized, as preparedness will be crucial to our discussion time.


3.      There will be two take-home exams (each worth 10% of the final grade).  They will be open-book, limited-time (2 hours) essay exams (thematic, issue-oriented), taken on the honor system.  Review sheets will be handed out in advance.  Exams should be typed and handed in ON TIME as instructed in the syllabus.


4.      Each student, with a partner, will sign up to be responsible for one week (two meetings) as "discussion facilitators," worth 10% of the final grade.  Facilitators will produce a substantive outline of major issues (to be handed out to the class), take the lead in discussion, and hand in a brief summary of major points in the readings for that week. 


5.       Students will do a Biblical Research Paper (8 pages, plus annotated bibliography), to be proposed, written, revised on the basis of peer reviews, and presented in class (worth 30% of the final grade).  Proposals for the paper will be submitted in advance (due Thurs Oct. 27; see appended form); 2 peer reviews, self-evaluation and writing center visit are required.  The paper will be submitted electronically at (class ID 1963834, enrollment password “David07”), where you should then be able to read each others’ papers for the purpose of peer review and participation in discussion.


Instructions for Electronic Reserves: Supplemental course readings have been placed on electronic reserve through Moodle, at Your username is your Novell login, with your regular Novell password. 


Disability Accommodation: If you have a specific disability and wish to request academic accommodations to meet your needs, please consult with Mr. Dan Hartsock, Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities.  You may reach him by telephone at 321-4294, or stop by his office on the third floor of Snowden Library in the Academic Resource Center.


A Note on Workload:  College courses require preparation – on average 2-3 hours of preparation for every hour in class. So plan on 8-9 hours of preparation time per week per course, not including class time.  This is more than a full-time job!  However, given the high amount you pay for your education, you will not get out of it what you deserve unless you put in the time and do the preparation.


A Note on Academic Dishonesty:  Academic Dishonesty is a serious offense at Lycoming College and will not be tolerated in this class.  Academic Dishonesty includes failing to give credit to sources used (otherwise known as Plagiarism).  This would include copying material – either words or ideas – from books, articles, web sites or another student’s work without citing your source, whether on a formal paper or a short assignment.  You are allowed to discuss assignments together, but when it comes to writing out your answers, you must do your own work and use your own words.  If you do not clearly understand what this means or what plagiarism is, please come and talk to me about it and I will be glad to explain.  The main difference between plagiarism and good research is only proper citation – so just be sure to cite your sources!





Schedule of Classes:


Week 1:  Introduction.  David's Literary and Historical Context - Historiography and the Problem of Bias
All history is necessarily selective, told with a purpose.  Discerning that purpose is essential to interpretation.
1-2 Samuel is a composite text representing several perspectives, including apologetic political propaganda.
Read Brueggemann David’s Truth Intro (on Reserve) and Halpern ch. 3-5, 13-14, 23 (appendix).
T  (Aug 30)- Introduction.  David's place in Biblical history: Iron Age transition from "tribal league" to united
monarchy, and current debate over 10th century archaeological remains.
Writing:  In-class Exercise 1 on history writing.
Th (Sept 1)-
David's place in Israelite historiography: Noth's "Deuteronomistic History," Friedman's  "Super-J" and Brueggemann's "multi-voiced truth" and the "construction" of reality. 


Week 2:  Evaluating Leadership - The "Charismatic Ideal" and Debate over Kingship
Read Judges plus Malamat, “Charismatic Leadership in the Book of Judges,” in Magnalia Dei (on reserve).
T  (Sept 6)-
 The “Charismatic Leadership Ideal” in Israel - Moses, Gideon, and Judges generally.  E.g.:
  Moses: Exod. 1-19, 32-34; Num. 11-14, 16-17, 20-21, 25, 27, 31.
  Judges: Judges 3:15-25, 4:4-9, 6:1-7:22, 11:1-11, 13:2-14:20; 1 Sam. 1-3, 9-10, 16-17; Deut. 9.

Writing:  In-class Exercise 2 on choosing a focus and formulating a thesis.
Th (Sept 8)-  D
ebate over Kingship: Pro- and Anti-Monarchic Tendencies in Judges & Samuel
Structure of judges as pattern of decay ("In those days...") vs. key speeches (Gideon/Abimelech/Jotham)
Asst. 1 on using evidence - Is/was the book of Judges primarily pro- or anti-monarchic?
                                            Support your answer with evidence from the biblical text.   


Week 3:  Samuel and the Ark Narrative
Read 1Samuel 1-7, 2Sam 6; Brueggemann part 1. 
T  (Sept 13)- The Central role of Samuel as transition figure, literary glue
Samuel's leadership as Judge, Prophet, Priest and King-Maker.
Birth Narrative and Call of Samuel.  Issue of word-plays with "Saul."
Writing: Hebrew poetry and the impact of genre and structure on content.
Th (Sept 15)- The "Ark Narrative" and the Sovereignty of God. 
Issues of theological polemic, miniature exile, textual difficulties.

Asst. 2:
Re-write the “ark narrative” using Hebrew poetic form, acrostic or chiastic structure.
                        Reflect on how the literary format influences the content and message.


Week 4:  Asking for a King and Introducing Saul
Read 1Samuel 8-12 (review 1Sam 2).  Compare Deut. 17, 1Kings 11, 2Kings 21, 23-24. 
Read Brueggemann part 2 to p. 96; and Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible? ch. 5-7 (on reserve).
T  (Sept 20)- The Problem of Succession, Israel's Request for a King and Samuel's Speeches.
Philistine political role galvanizing Israel toward monarchic state, sons not following in ways of fathers.
The Priests of Shiloh and the Deuteronomistic History. 
Writing: Evaluating opinions, topic vs. thesis (again).
Th (Sept 22)- Introducing Saul as Charismatic Leader - Last Judge, First King.  
Issue of Anti-Kingship polemic in an "apology" document, character of Saul.
Asst 3:  Discuss 6 ways in which Saul's character is developed in 1Sam 9-11.

*Fr (Sept 23), 7:00-9:00 pm in Jane Schultz Rm, Wertz – Summer Dig/Internship Report




Week 5:  Rejection of Saul, Enter Jonathan.                                                        Facilitators =   ___          
1Sam 13-15; Brueggemann part 2 (cont).  Compare Gen. 22, Judges 11.
T  (Sept 27)- Rejected
Saul as “foil” for David - insane jealousy, power-grasping, lack of faith.
Th (Sept 29)- Jonathan as Perfect Heir.  Issue of Saul's sacrifice (compare Abraham and Jephthah).

Asst 4:  Discuss the proposed sacrifice of Jonathan in comparison with the binding of Isaac and the
             sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter.  How does this reflect on the character of Saul?


Week 6: Introducing David:  Anointing and first meeting(s) with Saul            Facilitators =   __           
Read 1Sam 16-17, plus 1Sam 21:8-9, 2Sam 21:15-22 and 1Chron 20:4-8.
Read Halpern ch. 1, 2A-B, 15; Brueggemann part 3 to p. 134. 
Issues: Development of David's character; duplicate introductions (note apparent contradictions).

T  (Oct 4)- David the shepherd and musician 
Th (Oct 6)-  David the giant slayer (?) 
Asst 5:
  Discuss how might one explain and/or reconcile the two introductions of Saul and David.

**Hand out Take-Home Exam - due in class on Tuesday along with final paper topic**

Week 7:  David's Claims for Legitimacy - Ruth, Michal and Jonathan  Facilitators (wk 7 + 12)   =                    
Ruth; Num. 22-25, 31; Deut. 7, 23:2-8;1Sam 14, 18-20, 25:44; 2Sam 3:6-21, 6:12-23; 1Ki 2:13-25; Halpern ch. 16; Brueggemann pp. 135-153. Issues: David the Moabite, Saul's children siding with David as political propaganda?
T  (Oct 11)- Library tour. Discuss Annotated Bibliography - finding and evaluating sources, determining viewpoint/bias.
 Th (Oct 13)-
Ruth as Davidic Apology; Michal as political pawn (1Sam 18-19, 25:44, 2Sam 3:6-21, 6:12-23, 1Ki 2:13-25).
David and Jonathan - brothers and friends (1Sam 14,19-20).


Week 8:  Saul's Insane Jealousy, David’s Duplicity                                      Facilitators =                      
Read 1Sam 21-30; Halpern ch. 17; Brueggemann pp. 154-206.
T  (Oct 18)-  Violent Rebel or Innocent Victim of Saul's Paranoia? How do you decide?
Issues: Nob execution justified? Saul spared twice. Abigail's anti-violence wisdom. Necromancy works.
Writing: responding to the counter-argument.
*Preliminary Research Paper Proposal due Tues in class (topic, biblical text, thesis, preliminary bibliography).
Th (Oct 20)- Consorting with the Philistine Enemy (explain David’s duplicity, mercenary status)

* 4:05-5:05 pm in C-303: Archaeology Colloquium Guest Speaker Dr. Matt Adams:

                     "The City of the Great Temple Builders: The JVRP Excavations at Tel Megiddo East"

* 7:00 - 8:15 pm in Heim G-11:  Public Lecture by Dr. Matt Adams (Bucknell, Penn State):

                     "The Myth of Memphis: The Construction of an Ancient Egyptian Capital"


Week 9:  David’s “Innocence,” Establishing Davidic Kingship                Facilitators =                      
Read 1Sam 31, 2Sam 1-5; Peterson ch. 16 (Mephibosheth); Halpern ch. 2C-D, 4B, 17F, 18-19; Brueggemann pp. 206-247.
T  (Oct 25)
-  David's Professed Innocence in Saul's Death (suicide vs. regicide in 1Sam 31 vs. 2Sam 1)
Asst 6 (due Tues):  Discuss conflicting versions of Saul's death, possible motives for changing the story.
             Which version do you think is more likely to be accurate?  Why?
Th (Oct 27)- Civil War with the House of Saul and the Fate of Mephibosheth (2Sam 2-5).
*Revised Research Paper Proposal due in class Thursday
   (topic, biblical text, revised thesis, plus 1-page substantive outline of proposed argument).


Week 10: Establishing the Kingdom - David's Covenant, Wars, Historicity. Facilitators =                      
Read 2Samuel 6-10; Halpern ch. 2E, 6-12, 19-20; Brueggemann pp. 247-270.

Covenant: Gen. 9, 12, 15, 17, 22; Exod. 19-20, 34; Deut. 5-6, 8-11; Josh. 8:30-35, 23-24; 1Kings 11, 2Kings 24-25, Psalm 89. Review 1Sam 13, 15-16.
T  (Nov 1)- Jerusalem, the Ark, and the Davidic Covenant: Eternal and unconditional (?) 2Sam 6-7
“Foolish before God: David vs. Saul via Michal in the Ark Narrative.”
Th (Nov 3)- David's Wars and Historicity.   
*Annotated Bibliography for Research Paper (12 items) due Thursday in class.

*F (Nov. 4)- Art Trip to NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art, special tour of Cypriot sculpture coll.


Week 11:  David’s Downfall - Bathsheba and the “succession narrative”    Facilitators =                        
Read 2Sam 11-14; Peterson ch. 17; Brueggemann pp. 271-299; Halpern ch. 2F;
Regina Schwartz, "Adultery in the Household of David" in Bach Reader pp. 335-350;
Phyllis Trible, Texts of Terror ch. 2 "The Royal Rape of Wisdom" (Tamar).
Issues: Children punished for sins of father.
Foreign wives, queen mothers (1 Kings 1-12, 16:21-22:53, 2 Kings 9-11). 
T  (Nov 8)- David's sin, repentance and punishment.           
Th (Nov 10)-
The “Succession Narrative” as the disintegration of Davidic Rule
*Preliminary Draft of Research Paper due at Writing Center (ARC) by Sunday Nov. 13th. 


Week 12:  Absalom's Rebellion                                                       Facilitators (wk 7 + 12) =                      
2Sam 15-19; Peterson ch. 18; Halpern ch. 2G, 4C, 21; Brueggemann pp. 300-328.
Issues:  Chiastic structure.  Positive/Negative view of David.
Who benefits? Pro-/Anti-David implications.
T  (Nov 15)-
Absalom as second “foil” for David; Power-grabbing and the Saul/David/Absalom sequence
Faith made perfect in weakness – David as the “man after God’s own heart”
                     Jeremiah and the Exilic Perspective: “If God is pleased with me…” (?)
Th (Nov 17)- Writing Center talk. Discuss paper revision, peer review.
                          Guidelines: thesis, evidence, argument. Clear? Organized? Convincing?
*Revised Draft of Research Paper due in class Thursday for in-class peer review. 


Week 13:  Movie Night and Thanksgiving Break
T  (Nov 22)-
NO CLASS *IF* substitute Movie Night in wk. 14 agreed upon! Prop. Friday 12/2, 8:00 pm.
Th (Nov 24)- Thanksgiving – NO CLASS.


Week 14: Vengeance, Wars, and Debates over Temple and Succession
Read 2Sam 20-24, 1Kings 1-12, Deuteronomy 17:14-20.
Review Judges 9, 1Sam 8, 12, 2Sam 7, 1Chron 10-29, Lam 3:21-27, Isa 55:3, Psalms 89 and 132. 
Read Halpern ch. 22, Brueggemann pp. 329-358. 
*3rd Draft of Research Paper due Tuesday 11/29 - hard copy to instructor plus electronic submission at (class ID 1963834, enrollment password “David07”).*

T  (Nov 29)- Vengeance vs. Trusting God's Punishment, David’s Death-bed Advice.  Samuel Appendix.

                      Solomon and the Establishment of the Temple (and dynastic kingship "like the nations")
                       The Deuteronomic “Law of the King” (Deut 17:14-20) as anti-Solomonic polemic?
Th (Dec 1)- Wrap-up of Tuesday discussion

                  4 Student Oral Presentations of Research Papers (with self-critique and peer reviews**).


         _______________, _________________, _______________, _______________


Week 15: Student Presentations and Wrap-up
T  (Dec 6)- 5 Student Oral Presentations of Research Papers (with self-critique and peer reviews**).


    _______________, _________________, _______________, _______________, _____________

Th (Dec 8)- 5 Student Oral Presentations of Research Papers cont’d.  Hand out 2nd Take-home Exam.*

    _______________, _________________, _______________, _______________, _____________

*2nd Take-home Exam will be due at the end of the officially scheduled exam time slot for course.*
Final paper revisions will also be accepted at this time (instructor’s mailbox), and will be collected in a book.

**All students must submit a self-critique plus 2 written peer reviews along with the final paper draft
(give one copy to author and one to instructor).  These reviews will count as part of the assignment grade. 
Please also re-submit your original paper proposal (marked up) and annotated bibliography, as well as any
xeroxed sources used, along with the final draft of your paper.