In their bid to galvanise the people after the Exile towards nationhood, the Elders needed a new metanarrative.
So, they captured stories from their oral traditions (very similar to what is left in the folk and oral traditions in most African settings), updated elements of these stories, infused new scripts; with a view to stir the minds of their audiences towards nationhood.
The Torah became the authoritative text. In the so called historic books (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Chronicles, Samuel, Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther); the redactors were careful to use characters known through Jewish history to convey the sort of values that will strengthen and foster unity and prosperity; and those that were detrimental to the cause.
Hence they weaved into these stories character traits like collectivism, selflessness, faithfulness, loyalty, sacrifice, patience, humility, vision, kindness, unity, etc. At the same time inverses like individualism, selfishness, disloyalty, greed, shortsightedness, pride etc.
To this end the characters we find in these stories are not there by coincidence, they are symbols and milestones in the struggle of a people trying to carve out a future amidst the complexities of the world around them. Hence we find ourselves in major difficulties when we try to read these stories through the lenses of Christian dogmas and doctrines; or treat them as principles that govern all aspects of life.
While there might be elements of universality in these texts, they are clearly Jewish stories which were written with the vision of bringing the people together towards a common goal – nationhood. In simple terms: One God, One People, One Covenant.
Today I will be examining the story of the Witch of Endor in 1 Sam., in relation to King Saul, a symbol of the kind of ruler the people should avoid at all cost.
What were the redactors trying to convey?
How did it serve the community in their nation building project?
In other words, what sort of Operative Narratives and Scripts were the Elders envisioning in the lives of the citizens of this nation that was emerging?
Join us at 3pm
St John the Evangelist Hall
Sidcup DA14 6BX
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