KING DAVID by Steven L. McKenzie

KING DAVID

A Biography

KIRKUS REVIEW

A strenuously speculative biography of a cherished Biblical figure, equated here to Saddam Hussein.

Bible scholar McKenzie (The Hebrew Bible Today, not reviewed) attacks King David with a vehemence worthy of St.

Paul—after his vision on the road to Damascus. He gleefully points out David’s recorded and fictional stains, as if the Bible were

not already long-established as a clothesline of dirty laundry pinned up for moral lessons in personal responsibility and divine

karma. McKenzie refuses to consider David's sexual misconduct, unplanned self-incrimination, loss of sons, courageous admission

of guilt, and ascent to the throne as simply the second bookend of the Judah epic of Genesis. On the contrary, after deeming

David historical enough to malign, McKenzie uses a “Deuteronomistic History” theory to date a hodgepodge writing of the David

saga centuries later than previously supposed for political reasons of his own. Among the accusations McKenzie levies against

the psalmist-king are these: he was a soldier, his failed coup earned Saul's enmity, his outlaws plundered and annihilated Judean

villages, he “murdered Nabal and seized his wife, Abigail, and his property,” he was responsible for King Saul's death, and he

iced a dozen other political threats. Much of the guilt behind these assertions is thoroughly circumstantial and based upon

McKenzie’s estimations of what David stood to gain from such enormities. David is called a mafioso, a terrorist, and worse, while

positive Biblical depictions are deemed “unlikely.” To McKenzie, the ark is “a northern artifact” and the northern tribes were

“a conquered people.” After 18 pages of notes there is a bibliography of over 340 works by other secular scholars not known for

empathy or familiarity with ancient Semitic religious texts.

McKenzie might well place David on the grassy knoll in Dallas in 1963. He should be credited for providing an imaginative

work in the conspiracy school of Biblical criticism.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-19-513273-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2000




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