REL 337W: Biblical Topics – Kingship Ideologies, Spring 2000.    SYLLABUS.    RJDKnauth
T/Th 1:00-2:50 pm.  Office D-320, tel: 321-4298, home: 326-3822, email:

Topic:  The Anti-Power Struggle in Israelite Kingship Ideals. An upper-level writing intensive seminar.

Using primarily the books of Judges, 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings, we will explore Israelite kingship ideologies in their ancient Near Eastern context, including pro-monarchic and anti-monarchic biases within the texts, and especially the charismatic leadership ideal as exemplified by King David and contradicted by Solomon.

The primary purpose of this course is for you to develop deeper thinking with regard to a major biblical issue, and to see the study of the Bible as an ongoing process in which our answers often change over time, just as the text’s own answers to life-problems have changed over time.  This is also an ongoing topic of research for me in which my own views have changed dramatically, and will probably continue to change.  Readings are often repeated over the course of the semester precisely because you will be encouraged to re-examine the text from new perspectives each time.  This is also a “writing-intensive” course, which will seek to help you develop your writing skills.  Issues of writing will regularly be taken up in class, and assignments are designed to stress various aspects of the writing process.

Texts: The use of a complete Bible (any version) will be required in class.
          Other texts will be available on reserve at the library.

Some useful reference books which you may find in the library:
            Understanding the Old Testament, Anderson
            The Anchor Bible Dictionary
            Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible
These will point the reader to further useful bibliography, as will the ATLA Religion Index:

ATLAReligion through FirstSearch

    Course Requirements: 

1.      Attendance and informed participation (readings having been completed) at all class sessions will be expected, worth 10% of the final grade.

2.      There will be 6 short assignments and 2 paper proposals, worth 10% of  the final grade.  Assignments should be approx. 3 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 15% 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.      Two short (7 pg) Formal Papers will be written (each worth 15% of the final grade).  The first will be an Exegesis Essay (closely analyzing a biblical text and then giving a contemporary or personal application), the second will be a biblical research paper, with annotated bibliography.  One of these papers will then be chosen for revision and expansion (10 pgs max), to be presented in class (this Revision and oral presentation, plus peer review, will be worth an additional 20% of the final grade).  Proposals for these papers will be submitted in advance (see appended form); peer reviews and a visit to the writing center are required.

**Formal Papers and Revisions will be due on Friday at midnight in the mailbox outside the instructor's office door (D-320).  Since any papers delivered after 5:00 pm will not be received until the following Monday morning, any papers found in the box on the Monday morning will be considered to be on time.  Please do not ask for last-minute short extensions because of printing problems and the like.  Just get your papers in the box by first thing Monday morning.  Any papers received after that, unless there is a serious excuse such as a major illness (with a note from the doctor), family emergency (with a note from parents), or other serious problem, will be penalized at the discretion of the instructor.

Note:  Plagiarism (copying material from books, articles, web sites, or other students’ work without citing your source) will not be tolerated in the formal papers, in the exams, or in the short assignments.

Schedule of Classes:

Week 1:  Introduction – Deuteronomistic History and the Charismatic Ideal

  Read Malamat, “Charismatic Leadership in the Book of Judges,” Magnalia Dei (on reserve).

            T  (Jan 11)- Introduction.  Martin Noth and the Deuteronomistic History

            Th (Jan 13)- General overview of the Charismatic Leadership Ideal in Israel


Week 2:  Contrasting Kingship Ideals

  Read Exod. 1:1-7:7; Deut. 17:8-20; 2 Sam. 7, 11-12; 1 Kings 12,14, 21; Daniel 2-3; Esther 1, 3-4, 8.

            T  (Jan 18)-  Contrasts with Egyptian and Mesopotamian Kingship, the case of the Ur III Dynasty

            Th (Jan 20)- Canaanite Kingship and the case of Naboth’s vineyard (1Kings 21)

                                    Israelite experience of slavery as foundational to ideas of justice.


Week 3:  Examples of Charismatic Leadership

  Moses: Read Exod. 1-19, 32-34; Num. 11-14, 16-17, 20-21, 25, 27, 31.

  Judges: Read 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.

            T  (Jan 25)- Moses exemplifying the charismatic ideal, or “Moses: Standing in the Gap.”

                                    Writing: choosing a focus and formulating a thesis.

            Th (Jan 27)- Charismatic Leadership in Judges and beyond.

**Assignment 1: Compose a sermon outline based on the story of Gideon entitled: “Send the army home!”


Week 4:  Pro- and Anti-Monarchic tendencies in the book of Judges 

  Read the book of Judges.

            T  (Feb 1)- Gideon and Abimelech, Jotham’s Fable:  “God is your King!”  Writing: Using Evidence.

            Th (Feb 3)- The structure of Judges, pattern of decay: “In those days…”

**Assignment 2: Is/was Judges primarily pro-monarchic or anti-monarchic?

            Support your answer with evidence from the text.

**1st Paper Proposal for Exegesis Essay due Friday (2/4) on a topic related to the themes of the class.


Week 5:  Samuel and the Ark Narrative

  Read 1 Sam. 1:1-25:1, 28:3-25 (noting especially the role of Samuel); 1 Sam. 4-7, 2 Sam. 6 (Ark narrative). 

            T  (Feb 8)-   The leadership of Samuel: Judge, Prophet, Priest.  Writing: genre and structure.

            Th (Feb 10)-  The “Ark Narrative” and the sovereignty of God.

**Assignment 3: Re-write the “ark narrative” using Hebrew poetic form, acrostic or chiastic structure.

                                    Reflect on how the mode of expression influences the content and message.


Week 6:  The Problem of Succession

  Read 1 Sam. 2:11-36, 8:1-7; 1 Kings 11; 2 Kings 21, 23-24.

            T  (Feb 15)- The Philistines and the need for orderly succession.  Writing: proposal and evaluation.

            Th (Feb 17)- Eli’s sons, Samuel’s sons, and the problem of dynastic succession. Questions re papers?

**1st Formal Paper (Exegesis Essay) due Friday, on a topic of your choice (related to the themes of the class).


Week 7: Samuel’s Speeches and Review for 1st Exam

  Read 1Samuel 8, 12;  Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible?, ch. 5-7 (on reserve).

            T  (Feb 22)- Israel’s request for a king and Samuel’s speeches.

                        The Priests of Shiloh and the Deuteronomistic History.   ** Hand out review sheet.

            Th (Feb 24)- Review for Exam.  Come with questions!  **Hand out take-home exams.*

**Take-home Exams due by 5:00 pm on Friday** 

***Spring Break!!!  Enjoy your week!***


Week 8:  Saul: Last Judge, First King

  Read 1-2 Samuel, comparing the character of Saul to that of David.  Also – what about Jonathan?

            T  (March 7)- Saul as Charismatic Leader – Israel’s last judge, first king. Jonathan as perfect heir.

                                    *1st Test returned, discuss.* Writing: dealing with the counter-argument.

            Th (March 9)- Saul’s rejection vs. David’s success: WHY?!  Who should inherit kingship?

**Assignment 4: Why was Saul rejected while David is called the “man after God’s own heart”?

            Make an argument using specific evidence from the text. Use debate format.

            Be prepared to debate this issue in class on Thursday.

**2nd Paper Proposal (Biblical Research Paper) due Friday, with preliminary proposed bibliography.


Week 9:  Davidic Covenant

  Read Gen. 12, 15, 17, 22; Exod. 19-20, 34; Deut. 5-6, 8-11; Josh. 8:30-35, 23-24.

  Read  1 Sam. 13, 15-16; 2 Sam. 7; 1 Kings 11; 2 Kings 24-25; Psalm 89.

            T  (March 14)- Library talk/tour. Discuss writing: using sources, determining viewpoints,

                        Evaluating opinions, topic vs. thesis (again).

            Th (March 16)- The Davidic Covenant: Eternal and unconditional?!

**Assignment 5:  Think about the nature of the Israelite Covenant with God and the history of Israelite apostasy.  How does the Davidic Covenant compare to the Patriarchal Promise and the Sinai Covenant?  How does one understand the eternal nature of God’s covenant promises in the face of the reality of the exile? Within this larger topic, choose a narrower focus and formulate a thesis about it.  Compile a short list of sources (annotated) that would inform or support such a thesis.


Week 10: David’s Downfall (?)                                                                

  Read Num. 22-25, 31; Deut. 7, 23:2-8; Ruth; 2 Sam. 11-24; 1 Kings 1-12, 16:21-22:53, 2 Kings 9-11.

T  (March 21)-  Foreign wives, queen mothers, David the Moabite. 

    Writing Center talk. Discuss paper revision, peer review. 

    Guidelines: thesis, evidence, argument. Clear? Organized? Convincing?

            Th (March 23)- The “Succession Narrative” as the disintegration of Davidic Rule?

**Draft of 2nd Formal Paper (research, with sources) due by Friday at the Writing Center. 

    By Friday you must also turn in one peer review for a partner.  Topic is your choice.**


Week 11:  Absalom

  Read 1 Sam. 15-31, 2 Sam. 1; 2 Sam. 13-20.

            T  (March 28)- Absalom’s Rebellion and David as the “man after God’s own heart”

                                    Jeremiah and the Exilic Perspective: “If God is pleased with me…” (?)

            Th (March 30)- Power-grabbing and the Saul/David/Absalom sequence

**2nd Formal Paper due to instructor on Friday.**


Week 12:  Solomon

  Read Deuteronomy 17:14-20; Judges 9; 1 Sam. 8, 12; 1 Kings 1-12.   

            T  (April 4)- Solomon and the beginning of dynastic kingship “like the nations”

            Th (April 6)- The Deuteronomic “Law of the King” (Deut 17:14-20): anti-Solomonic polemic?

                                    Northern charismatic kingship vs. southern dynastic kingship?

**Assignment 6: Do you think these accounts reflect a Northern viewpoint critical of the Davidic Dynasty?

            If so, how do you reconcile this with the positive portrayal of David?


Week 13: Josiah, the Exile, and the structure of the Deuteronomistic History

  Read 2 Kings 11-12, 16-25;  Hand-out on the “Anti-power struggle ideal.”

            T  (April 11)- Josiah as ideal king. Explaining Exile: Solomon, Manasseh as foils for Josiah? 

            Th (April 13)- Athaliah, Joash, and the “anti-power struggle ideal”

***By 10:00 AM on Thursday, turn in draft of final paper to be distributed to class.***


Week 14: Student Oral Presentations (with self-critique and peer review**).

            T  (April 18)-   1.












                                    *Hand out final exam review sheets.*


            Th (April 20)-   5.






                                    Review for Final Exam, discuss major themes of course.

                                    Hand out exam.*

 *Take-home exam and final paper revisions are due in the instructor’s mailbox at the end of the scheduled exam time for this class.  The final revisions will be collected into a book and distributed to the class.*

**For each student presentation, all students must turn in a written review or self-critique (one copy to the author of the paper and one copy to the instructor, due in class on the day of the presentation), and be prepared to discuss the paper in class at the time of the oral presentation.  These reviews will be counted as part of the grade for the oral presentations.

 ***Happy Easter!***

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