Will The Real Gideon Please Stand Up? Narrative Style And Intention In Judges 6-9 -- By: Daniel I. Block

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 40:3 (Sep 1997)
Article: Will The Real Gideon Please Stand Up? Narrative Style And Intention In Judges 6-9
Author: Daniel I. Block

Will The Real Gideon Please Stand Up?
Narrative Style And Intention In Judges 6-9

Daniel I. Block*

In the 1960s there was a popular television show in the United States in which a host would interview four characters, three of whom pretended to be the mystery person and the fourth who actually was. Based on the comments of these individuals the audience would have to identify which of the candidates was the actual celebrity of the night. After the verdict of the people was in, the host would announce: “Will the real So-and-So please stand up?” As I have been poring over the account of the life of Gideon in Judges 6–9 I have frequently found myself waiting for the host to call out: “Will the real Gideon please stand up?” Scholars have answered that question in several different ways.

I. The Classical Critical Response

For more than a century scholars have exploited the contradictions, discrepancies and tensions in the text of Judges 6–9 to reconstruct the evolution of the literary account and in the process have come up with some interesting conclusions. In the past, classical source analyses have tended to find in the Gideon narratives extensions of the hypothetical Pentateuchal sources. As a representative of this approach we cite the conclusions of G. F. Moore, 1 according to whom the earliest impression of the man is provided by the Yahwist. 2 The Yahwist portrays Gideon as a man specially called by Yahweh (Judg 6:11–24), empowered by being clothed with the Spirit of Yahweh (6:34), reassured by Yahweh through a Midianite’s dream (7:13–15), victorious for Yahweh with a ridiculously small band of men and absurd weapons, pitchers and torches (7:16–22), persistent in his pursuit of the enemy (8:4–21), commemorating the victory with the erection of an ephod at the holy place of Ophrah (8:22–27a), and being rewarded for his work with an ideal family of seventy sons, plus a son from his concubine whom he piously names Abimelech, “The [Divine] King Is My Father” (8:30–32).

* Daniel Block is John R. Sampey professor of Old Testament interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280.

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