Suspense and Anticipation in 1 Samuel 9:1–14

Rachelle Gilmour

Abstract


1 Sam 9:1-10:16 has been the subject of intense literary critical interest as scholars have grappled with the sudden appearance of the prophet Samuel in a folk tale of Saul searching for his lost donkeys. Literary approaches to the text have proposed that Samuel's entry into the story is a literary device designed to surprise the reader. This paper demonstrates that Samuel's entrance into the narrative is not in isolation but is the culmination of suspense and anticipation built up throughout 1 Sam 9:1-14. This suspense is generated through a series of episodes which each consist of a pattern of anticipation, delay and resolution. The recognition of this structure of suspense allows for a reinterpretation of two anomalous verses within the narrative: the list of place names in 9:4 and the editorial insertion of 9:9.

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