Bible: 1 Samuel

(after 960 BCE)

The biblical book 1 Samuel (8–12) contains the memories of how kingship emerged in ancient Israel with Saul. These chapters also contain some of the most abrasive criticism of kingship to be found in the Bible. As early as the 1840s biblical scholars discerned two narrative traditions woven together in these chapters: an old pro-monarchical source in 1 Samuel 9:1–10:16, 11:1–15, 13:1–23, and 14:1–52, which arose between the tenth and the seventh centuries BCE, and a later anti-monarchical source in 1 Samuel 7:1–17, 8:1–22, 10:17–27, 12:1–25, and 15:1–35, probably created by the Deuteronomistic Historians in 622 BCE.

Scholars hypothesize that the Deuteronomistic Historians were nameless scribes in the court of King Josiah of Judah, who produced a grand history of Israel and Judah to support the king's monotheistic reform in the late seventh century BCE. We call them the Deuteronomists after the book of Deuteronomy, which contains reform-oriented laws...

Image for: Bible: 1 Samuel

A mosque built over the tomb of Samuel (Library of Congress)

View Full Size