David And Goliath, A Story Of Place: The Narrative-Geographical Shaping Of 1 Samuel 17 -- By: John A. Beck
WTJ 68:2 (Fall 2006) p. 321
David And Goliath, A Story Of Place:
The Narrative-Geographical Shaping Of 1 Samuel 17
John A. Beck is a consultant with Bible World Seminars and a freelance writer in Germantown, Wis.
The details that fill the story of David and Goliath are vivid and memorable. Even those less than familiar with the Bible as a whole can typically picture the lightly armed David running towards the weapon-laden Goliath. Given the colorful detail within the narrative, the reader can almost hear the whirling sling, the whistle of the smooth stone as it sails through the air, and the thud that marks the collapsing frame of the gigantic opponent.
While the popular recollection of the story focuses on such details, scholarly interest has been attracted to yet another set of details in the story. These are matters associated with the textual history of the story and apparent inconsistencies that may trouble the readers of 1 Samuel. For example, there is the dramatic difference in length between the Septuagint version (LXXB) of this story and the Hebrew account. The latter is 80 percent longer than the former giving rise to a conversation about the compositional history of the narrative.1 Then there is the matter of Saul’s acquaintance with David. The introduction of David in 1 Sam 16:21–22 as the armor bearer of Saul, whom Saul knew personally, stands in some tension with 1 Sam 17:55–58 which implies Saul did not know David so well at all.2 And then there is the question of how to harmonize the story in 1 Sam 17 which celebrates David’s victory over Goliath and 2 Sam 21:19 which apparently attributes this victory to Elhanan.3 Most of the scholarly attention directed to this narrative is consumed by matters such as these.
But all the scholarly energy expended on such topics has left another dimension of this story virtually unaddressed. That is the tendency of the author to report on the geography of the event in great detail. In the fifty-four verses of
WTJ 68:2 (Fall 2006) p. 322
this story,4 the reader meets twenty specific geographical references (not including the geographical allusions found in the reference to “Philistine” and “Philistines” that occur thirty-five times in the story). Given the frequency with which specific geographical detail is depl...
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