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Who killed Goliath within the literary world of Samuel? David? Elhanan? both???
In the Book of Samuel, the two reports have one thing in common, namely
that the "recipient" of the action was a Philistine "hero" called Goliath
was killed; each of the reports points to a different agent, set the action
in a different place (and narrative time [see 2 Sam 21:15-17), and describe
its details in different ways.
Since the connection between the two reports is based on the shared
reference to Goliath, then either (a) one keeps the two reports together
and has to deal with the differences in the characterization of the killer
and the setting of the action (space and time) so Tg, Joseph Kara, Rashi,
etc. or (b) each report points to something else, and since the action is
different, so is the recipient of the action, so Chronicles, cf. Abrabanel,
An alternative starting position may be based on the general position that
one finds a contradiction in a text whenever one's expectation of textual
consistency is transgressed. This position may lead in particular to the an
approach based on the two following statements:
(a) the contradiction that we--along with Chr., all those mentioned above,
and many many others-- found there is due to a "strictly referential"--I
cannot find a better expression right now-- mode of reading the text, and
(b) this mode of reading was not necessarily identical, or always similar
to that of the intended reader of the Book of Samuel.
In other words does a story/narrative about David killing Goliath
necessarily exclude the possibility of another one in which someone else
and somewhere else does so? If so, why? and for whom? is this so for the
intended reader of the Book of Samuel?
In this regard, it may be mentioned that in this book (as it stands) a
narrative about David's playing lyre to Saul and being at his service in 1
Sam 16 does not preclude a narrative in which Saul seems not to know who
David is in 1 Sam 17 (esp. cf. the two narrative conclusions, 1 Sam 16: 23
and 1 Sam 17:58). Other examples may be brought. Also cf. Gen 1 and Gen 2.
(Those who like illustrations from the ancient world, may think, for
instance, of the world view in which both Iphigeneia at Aulis and
Iphigeneia in Tauris coexisted, and examples can be multiplied).
The issue surely remains wide-open, but I hope I advanced the discussion,
Ehud Ben Zvi, Comparative Studies in Literature, Film and Religion, MLCS,
200 Arts Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2E6