Wednesday, February 02, 2011

David versus Josiah

I am always trying to point out the difference between reading the Bible inductively and reading it as Christian Scripture, both of which I consider important for Christians.  We naturally read the Bible as Scripture and this way of reading is completely appropriate, but it is a form of "reader-response," an "ideological" reading from a Christian point of view.  Inductive reading, reading the biblical texts for what they actually say and what they likely meant originally in context, is very difficult for us to do.  It takes massive paradigm shifts for most of us even to know what I'm talking about.

Another example occurred to me this morning.  From an inductive standpoint, it seems to me that Josiah is more important for the deuteronomistic history (Joshua-Kings, with Deuteronomy as lead off) than even David is.  Does not the lead off in 1 Kings 13:2 point to Josiah at least as the climax of 1 and 2 Kings?  2 Kings 23:25 point to him as the greatest king of all Israel's history.  In fact, from an inductive standpoint, an argument can at least be made that a Jewish reader of, say, 500BC, would see Josiah as the most likely candidate for who Deuteronomy 18:15-19 pointed toward.

Yet when we read the Bible as Scripture, David clearly outshines Josiah in the story.  Josiah plays no role in the New Testament, but David is a type of Christ, a key feature in Jesus' identity as king.  Acts 7:37 and other passages clearly read Deuteronomy 18 in relation to Christ.  So when we read the Historical Books as Christian Scripture, David is by far the most important person in the story.  Inductively, David is important--after all, he dominates the space of the narrative.  You just might argue that he is not as important as Josiah in terms of the original meaning of Samuel-Kings.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

David was a "man after God's own heart", while Josiah found and read the Law.

The Law is basis and establishment of a society, while one's personal commitment of/to faith doesn't necessarily affect society. But, obeying or disobeyiny the Law does affect society.

In our society if one is a law-abiding citizen, then it doesn't matter what one believes in matters of faith. The problem is with interpreting the Constitution.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The Mises Institute had a course about "Libertarian Legal Theory" that sounded fascinating! Law and liberty sounds like an oxymoron. But, obviously, it isn't.

Our society believes in personal liberty as to conscience in things pertaining to faith. And it also allows for a diversity in regards to choice and value, as to ultimate values.

The recent uprising in Eygpt is concerning for all of us, as the Muslim Brotherhood would not allow such liberty. Their goal is an Islamic State, even in the West!

Ken Schenck said...

Angie, an open discussion board would certainly get more traffic than I do on the topics I choose ;-)

Let it be known henceforth that if anyone has no interest in what I post, you are all very welcome to discuss anything else you'd like here! ;-)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I thought I posted in response to your post.

My line of reasoning:
What is the distinction between David and Josiah?

Why would the Law be more important than a "heart after God"?

How do we interpret the Law today in our society? And why is the Law important today?
Is the Law a universal, in opposition to a "heart after God"? And is the Law of more value than a "heart after God"?

What is happening today that speaks of and to the need for a liberalized understanding of the law?

Jenny Brien said...

Josiah - Prophet, Priest and King and a for-sure descendant of David. Certainly it looks like Samuel/Kings was written from a Joshuan point of view. I'm struck, for example, with how David is shown as being scrupulous in respecting Saul's status as the "Lord's Anointed"

So it's interesting that although Jesus takes over the titles of Joshua, he was expected to be a "David"

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Though authority was what the ancients believed controlled the universe (i.e., God), modern people today, are seeking to understand what "controlls the universe". They don't presuppose "God" as a necessity.

Law can be understood as maintaining order in society, irregardless of what one believes about cosomology.

And since the Founding of our country, Americans (and the West in general) don't believe in the absolute power of a King or monarachy. Therefore, the rule of law is what maintains society's order.

Individuals within free societies (those that don't base their society on cosmological or theological understandings) are free to determine and choose their values within the boundaries

So, David's respect for Saul, is replaced in today by the Constitution, as that is the basis of our law.

JohnM said...


Do you think it's likely 2 Kings 23:25 is hyperbole, especially in view of 2 Kings 18:5?

Full disclosure: This only occured to me when I looked up the reference in a study Bible after I read your post ;)

Ken Schenck said...


Yes, I don't think the "best ever" line is probably a little hyperbolic--good call!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Then are your suggesting that Josiah was the "Statesman", while David learned his lessons overseeing a tribe of "insignificants" and not usurping the "annointed King Saul"?

An inductive view being the eptiome of "real life" or truth for today becomes hard to defend in light of church history, and modern understandings of science.