Mini-Review: ‘David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory’ by Joseph L. Wright (Cambridge University Press, 2014)


‘David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory’ is a scholarly serious book about the layers of “war commemoration” and contested tribal polity hidden in the often contradictory layers of biblical memory in the David, Saul, and Caleb sections. Wright’s redaction analysis illustrates that many of the key elements of both the Caleb and David stories are probably much younger than assumed by scholarly consensus, and the fissures in the presentation of David show a narrative where David and Saul did not intertwine in the earliest texts.

While the text is definitely scholarly Wright offers enough analogies to contemporary society and political memory to illustrate the main points of the contested war commemoration. Wright clearly illustrates that in addition to a heroic path, the insiders and outsiders of Judahite and Calebite societies are clearly related to much of what otherwise seems lime marginalia to the main thrust of the stories of Caleb and David. Furthermore, Wright shows that Caleb actually offers a counter-history to Davidic and Judahite claims on the history of Hebron.



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