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Altes Testament


Bezzel, Hannes


Saul. Israels König in Tradition, Redaktion und früher Rezeption.


Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2015. XII, 303 S. = Forschungen zum Alten Testament, 97. Lw. EUR 94,00. ISBN 978-3-16-153684-7.


Klaus-Peter Adam

This University of Jena Habilitation thesis by Hannes Bezzel takes up the reception-historical studies of Ehrlich/White 2006, Hentschel 2003, and offers five reflections on Saul in literary sources and his redefinition throughout the re-reading of tradition (3), starting with Qumran, the rewritten Bible of Pseudo-Philo Liber Antiquitatum, Ben Sira, Josephus; while bracketing out historical aspects (3,6). The reception history of more than 300 years in early Judaism (chapter 2, 8–81), from Ben Sira to 4Q252, testifies to the openness of earlier traditions about Saul for interpretation. Saul’s place in a salvation history in early Judaism is contested given the ambivalence of his election and his apparent demise by God.
Ben Sira programmatically understood Saul as »wicked« rsh’. While he cannot completely avoid his memory, he refers to him anonymously as nagid, mashiah, melekh (Sir 46:13,19,20), treating him with the contempt for the wicked who will be forgotten, Prov 10:7; cf. Ps 9:6; 34:17. Samuel is in the foreground; besides Saul, his activity of anointing includes David (46:13), who is the focus of Sir 47.
The fragmentary 4Q252, a list of unfulfilled blessings or a collection around the theme of sexual taboos, refers in col 4:1–3 to »Amalek, whom Saul slew«, which B. explains in the context of the ex-pect­ed destruction of Amalek »at the end of the days«, a reference to Deut 25:19, and also reminiscent of Exod 17:14 and, according to 1Chr 4:42–43, only under Hezekiah. This is conceptually in line with the reception of the tradition in the references to the killing of the Agagite Haman in Esther. Amalek’s eschatological destruction would then count as an extenuating factor for Saul. If, less likely, 4Q252 col. 4:1–2 should be translated »Amalek, whom slew Saul«, the passage would refer to Saul’s killing through an Amalekite 2Sam 1 (36–37).
In four core scenes, Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum 54–65 describes the figure of Saul: the loss of the ark; the war against the Amalekites; David and Goliath; and Saul’s death (38–58). Cast in a deuteronomistic (O. H. Steck, Bezzel: »neo-deuteronomis­tic«) historiographical perspective under the categories of sin and judg­ment, Lib Ant extends the divine vengeance for guilt onto future generations, as B. illustrates in an addition to Exod 20:5 in Lib Ant 11:6. Saul’s destiny is presented as a consequence of his unfaithfulness, cf. 1Chr 10:13–14.
Josephus’ presentation of Saul as an ideal virtuous, yet torment­-ed ruler echoes his ambivalent fame (80). Multiple times Josephus adds favorable explanatory comments: The details of Saul’s hiding among the equipment 1Sam 10:22 is explained in AJ 6:63 as the demonstration of Saul’s virtues of temperance and modesty. While AJ 6:116 takes up »unawareness/foolishness« from 1Sam 14:24 LXX, AJ 6:136 relativizes Saul’s killing of women and children by referring to Saul’s subjective innocence concerning his own brutal act. AJ 6:137 explains Saul’s mercy toward Agag through his being subdued by a passion for the Agagite king’s beauty and height, includ- ing an excursus about how this may serve as a quintessential example for learning about and understanding human nature AJ 6:262–268 (68). In general, Josephus paints Saul as an example of a beautiful death through suicide, AJ 6:368, also alluding to a funeral at a beautiful place AJ 6:677. Finally, the elaborate encomium for Saul AJ 6:343–350 paints him as ideal-typical, just, brave and wise AJ 6:346, a typical example of a Jewish Hector or Achilles, rightly remembered, AJ 6:345.
The Saul tradition in Chronicles (chapter 3, 82–113) has been enlarged from a first version 1Chr 11:2 that reported David’s service as commander under Saul while omitting Saul’s actual kingdom. The historiographic concept in 1Chr 10:13a.14 presents him as at least ambiguous. He does not seek Yahweh and his unfaithfulness portrays him as a counter-king to Josiah 2Chr 34:21; and, potentially as a counter-image to David who seeks the ark 1Chr 13:3 (94–96). The Chronicler’s focus on Saul’s death (113) presents him as a typical example for individual retaliation Ezek 18:24; 94. Comments that combine his rejection with 1Sam 13, 15, 28 in 1Chr 10:13b suggest the seeking of Yahweh to be a divinatory practice that Saul fails to use; 1Sam 28. 1Chr 10:6 includes the fall of his entire house in order to prepare for the transfer of his rule to David (98). 10:9–10 emphasize Saul’s humiliation in the process of the identification of his body and the transfer of his skull to the Dagan temple, which potentially had an influence on 1Sam 17:54. The Chronicler omits the note about the burning of Saul and his sons through the men of Jabesh Gilead in order to avoid any royal honor; yet B. concedes the interpretation of the burning of Saul’s body to be complicated already in 1Sam 31:12–13 (111).
The second part (114–191) presents three source-critical evaluations of the tradition of Saul’s end, his beginnings and the development from the older to the younger tradition of Saul.
1Sam 31 and 2Sam 1, descriptions of Saul with two foci, suggest altogether three or four endings of Saul (chapter 4, 114–147): 1. The oldest ending is about Saul as a successful ruler and military commander in 1Sam 14:47a,bβ,48aα,49–51, and still leaves open the identity of his enemies. 2. A basic account of his death in 1Sam 31:1–2*; 3–5,6LXX; 8.9aLXX; 10b–13 which describes Saul as a heroic ruler fighting against the Philistines and buried by the Jabeshites. 3. The basic account in 2Sam 1:1aα,bα,2aα2.β,3,4,11,12a.bα1β. This version includes David and is developed on the backdrop of the history of David’s rise, for instance, his time in Ziklag in 1Sam 27:6 and his demise at the hand of the Philistines in 1Sam 29:10–11. 4. A larger extension (Fortschreibung) of 2Sam 1:1aβ,bβ,2aα1,b,5–7,9,10,13-16 primarily demonstrates David’s piety. Saul still is the anointed with the spear but the rulership has been transferred to David. 5. An addition in 2Sam 1:8 leads to the rejection of Saul after the war against the Amalekites in 1Sam 15 and links the rejection of the king with his death, comparable to 1Chr 10:13.
Saul’s beginnings are combined into a Samuel-Saul-narrative cycle (chapter 5, 149–194): a basic layer 1Sam 1:1–3a,4–5,7aα,b,8–10, 12–15,17–20, 3:19aα about the childless Hanna and the birth of a child that receives the name of a root of š’l; and a second layer about her giving back the child to Yahweh 1Sam 1:21–28*; 2:1–11; the in­terpretation of this as a lifetime Nazirite 1Sam 1:11 follows as an effort to parallelize Samuel with Samson. The other source on Saul’s beginnings is the man of God-narrative in 1Sam 9:1–10:16*.
The development from the older Saul tradition of a victory over the Ammonites (chapter 6, 195–228), suggests a combination of 1Sam 11:1,2a,3–6,9–11 with Saul’s acclamation 10:17–27* and later 1Sam 12*. Different from earlier scholarship, esp. since A. Alt, B. suggests the Ammonite threat to be an older tradition than the Philis­tine threat (206.235); the latter referring historically to the late 8th century Assyrian threat, cf. Jezreel as location (236).
The outcome of this study is a continuously darkening portrait of Saul through the ages. While B. is skeptical regarding the as­sumption of historical aspects and largely refrains from absolute dating, his picture relies on redaction-historical and source-critical reconstructions which, naturally, depend on certain methodological assumptions.