Studies in 1 and 2 Samuel Part 1: The Structure of 1 and 2 Samuel -- By: John A. Martin

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 141:561 (Jan 1984)
Article: Studies in 1 and 2 Samuel Part 1: The Structure of 1 and 2 Samuel
Author: John A. Martin


Studies in 1 and 2 Samuel
Part 1:
The Structure of 1 and 2 Samuel

John A. Martin

[John A. Martin, Assistant Professor of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theological Seminary]

The books of 1 and 2 Samuel are a part of the “historical” section of the Old Testament.1 In the Hebrew canon the books of Samuel (hereafter called Samuel or the Book of Samuel and referred to as one book) are placed among the Former Prophets, which also include the books of Joshua, Judges, and Kings.2 Scholars disagree on the date of composition,3 the author,4 the purpose,5 and the theology of Samuel.6 Along with these issues is the problem of the text itself,7 which leads the interpreter into many aspects of Old Testament text criticism.8

Attending all these problems is the question of the hermeneutics and application of Old Testament narrative, the genre of Samuel. The tendency is for conservative Old Testament students to steer a safe course and treat Old Testament narrative as “merely” the history of Israel from which devotional material can be drawn.9 Not surprisingly expositors have difficulty preaching from Samuel because their aim is often neither to give a history lesson nor random observations on the text. However, as one approaches most commentaries and lessons on Samuel that is what he finds.10

This series of four articles seeks to address some of these issues. The present article discusses the structure of Samuel and seeks to trace the major motif the author of Samuel used throughout the book. The second article will deal with Samuel as literature, focusing attention on the literary quality and devices the author used in crafting his book under the

Holy Spirit’s inspiration. The third article will take up the question of the text of Samuel, dealing with the state of current research in textual studies in Samuel. The final article will present a brief biblical theology of Samuel.

The Structure of Samuel

Noting the structure of narrative literature is important in determining the proper interpretation of a biblical passage or book. Any narrative should be viewed as a unit, as one piece composed by one author or compiler. Over the last several centurie...

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