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A Narrative Criticism Of 1 Samuel 9:1 21

2269 words - 9 pages

To engross oneself in the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures is to be absorbed into a world of literature, a world in which the events of many thousands of years past are relived and re-experienced in the imagination of the reader and of the listener. Within this rich ability to form our imaginations exists techniques and features identified through scholarship and used by authors to evoke, reflect, instruct and suggest this reality into its fullness, and it is the way that these are used in the narrative of 1 Samuel 9:1-21 to which we will now turn our attention. Identified in the NRSV translation of the Bible as the narrative in which “Saul [is] chosen to be King” we find in this text the first story of Saul’s call to kingship and the circumstances around it . Throughout this narrative, the author, or perhaps more accurately, editor(s) , evokes a number of literary features to build a story and to portray the character of Saul. In this essay, we will focus on the features of the narrative’s folklorist character, the use of type-scene, the presence of suspense and anticipation and the motif of providence, exploring how these affect the story and how they portray the character of Saul.

Before beginning this essay proper, it is important to roughly outline the underlying methodology of Narrative Criticism that will be used in our interpretation of 1 Samuel 9:1-21. Narrative Criticism, as opposed to many other forms of biblical criticism, is focused primarily on the world of the text, that is, the story world as created by the narrative . This leads the interpreter to immerse her or himself in this world, suspending disbelief as one would in a fictional story to elicit the authors intended meaning with less reference to historical context, or the world behind the text. This far more literary reading of biblical scripture allows us to focus in on specific areas or literary features common throughout narrative and explore how they aid the author’s purpose. In this essay, we will be focusing on several of the literary features found in 1 Samuel 9:1-21, namely those of folk tale, type story, suspense and anticipation and the motif of providence. Reflecting on the presence of these, we will then explore the effect they each have on the story and plot development as well as the portrayal of the character of Saul in the imaginings of the ideal reader .

In order to more fully grasp the plot and the implied use of literary features within the narrative of 1 Samuel 9:1-21 a fuller understanding is needed of the stories place within the overall narrative of the Hebrew Scriptures and of 1 Samuel specifically. The narrative that is the focus of this essay is located in the second section of the book of 1 Samuel, in what could be considered a transition phase between the leadership of the prophet Samuel and the eventual king Saul . Within the greater narrative of the canonical scriptures it is in these texts that the reader is introduced to the...

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