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Davids Secret Demons: "Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King" Hardcover – Jun 6 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (June 6 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802844782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802844781
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.3 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 885 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,325,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 17 2003
Format: Hardcover
Some see David as a mythological figure. Certainly the image projected of him and the shadow this character casts over subsequent Israelite and biblical history is one of mythic proportions. Partly the constructs around David have become so strangely skewed that one asks the question, as the literature both in the biblical texts and later developments can lead one to asking the question, �can any one man have been or done all this?�
Halpern addresses this question in this book By looking at the latest archaeological evidence, Halpern concludes that the character our David is based upon was most likely a real character. But, how much similarity is there between the real David and the David of later biblical writers? How much is legend? Will the real David please stand up?
Halpern takes the reader on a journey through various questions, and part of the different questions can be discerned from the title of the book: David�s Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King. One issue with which to contend is the diversity of voices in the biblical text itself. The portrayal of early Israelite history in the Bible is not a uniform, seamless construction. The Chronicles relay different information than the historical cycles that runs through the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. Even when they relay the same information, they do so with differing interpretations behind motives and outcomes.
David is an intriguing figure. While being held up as the exemplary King of Israel to whom all others must be compared, he is at the same time shown to have some devastatingly human failings. The number of people that David kills, for instance, Halpern contends would earn any modern politician the label of serial killer.
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By mrliteral on Jan. 30 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a mystery story. True, it is nonfiction, but it is a mystery, nonetheless, the mystery of David. Halpern does a good job of solving this mystery and showing us what the real David was probably like, but it is a rough journey to see the solution.
Halpern has done his research and definitely knows his stuff. Unfortunately, he is not very good at presenting his material; this book has all the detail and tedium of a courtroom trial (although he does give warnings about the most technical chapters). The overall organization is not well-thought out; he revisits the same information over and over again.
I think that this is almost a good book. Halpern does get his point across and shows that David was not as heroic as he is often thought of. He brings out the reality behind the myth. If he only could lay out the details better, this book would go from almost good to either good or great.
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By A Customer on Aug. 15 2001
Format: Hardcover
Every so often, a scholar emerges in a particular field to reinvigorate it with a flash of brilliance. Baruch Halpern is one such scholar. Recently in the field of Biblical Studies, open warfare has erupted over whether the biblical record of Israel's past is anything more than a well-written romance, whether the Bible contains material useful to the modern historian. Halpern turns the historian's lense on the biblical portrait of David, and provides positive answers to these questions in a tour de force that is witty, learned, and hugely entertaining. Halpern shows that the main narratives about David, in Samuel and the first chapters of Kings, preserve a nearly contemporary effort to vindicate the king from the calumnies hurled by his erstwhile enemies and their supporters (since most of the enemies "wake up dead"). Two principles of historical reconstruction distinguish Halpern's work. The first is the idea that the voices of David's opponents can still be heard if the historian engages in imaginative reconstruction. The second, the product of Halpern's immense erudition and familiarity with other Near Eastern historical literature, is that royal scribes in Israel and the Near East are not free to give false testimony about their lieges' accomplishments. The scribes may try to lead the reader to the grandest possible interpretation of even minimal accomplishments, by tolerating or even promoting ambiguity, but they can't spin their reconstruction out of whole cloth. The logic of these principles leads Halpern to reconsider the extent of David's "empire," which the text would have us think was extremely vast. It also leads to a portrait of the king that shines with a duller veneer than the one David's (and Solomon's) apologists apply.Read more ›
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By Elaine Diskin on July 10 2001
Format: Hardcover
The best thing about this book is that it looks at history outside the box of the textual sources. It does not concede that everything that happened in ancient Israel is described in the books of Samuel, it considers the probable impact of forces not described as active in Samuel. These are important points. Who, it asks, conquered the cities later incorporated into Israel? What were the Philistines up to during the fight between the House of David and the House of Saul? And it doesn't treat either the Philistines or the Israelites as single, unified groups. Instead it asks about factional differences, things other scholars just have not done. I felt like I was reading real historical reconstruction instead of either a defense of or an attack on the Biblical record. And at the same time, the book explains why the Biblical record says what it says.
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