Reading Samuel as folklore: 1 Samuel 23.19-24.22 and 26.1-25, a case study

Gareth J. Wearne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies of the oral background to the Hebrew Bible have long been preoccupied with the search for an ancient Hebrew epic. But the fact that many stories are written in narrative prose means they resist attempts to make them conform to expectations of poetic and formulaic composition. The present study takes a different point of departure. Adapting Lauri Honko’s cognitive and performative theories of ‘mental texts’, it argues for the existence of cycles of oral folk-narratives in ancient Israel. The parallel stories in which David spares the life of Saul in 1 Sam. 23.19-24.22 and 26.1-25 are used as a case study to test the explanatory power of the model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-354
Number of pages18
JournalJournal for the Study of the Old Testament
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • 1 Samuel
  • David
  • Hebrew Bible
  • Intertextuality
  • Mental text
  • Oral
  • Performance
  • Saul


Dive into the research topics of 'Reading Samuel as folklore: 1 Samuel 23.19-24.22 and 26.1-25, a case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this