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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Unfavored: Judah and Saul in the Narratives of Genesis and 1 Samuel
Sykora, Josef

University Park, PA: Eisenbrauns, 2018 pp. xvi + 243. $74.95

Series Information
Siphrut: Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures, 25

Description: Following the work of scholars who have attempted to rehabilitate the notion of “chosenness” in the Hebrew Bible and others who have focused more narrowly on the fate of non-Israelites in the Old Testament, The Unfavored centers on the role of two “unfavored” characters within Israel—Judah and Saul. Josef Sykora examines two narratives with seemingly opposite trajectories: the Joseph cycle in Genesis 37–50 and the Saul episode in 1 Samuel 13–15. Both contain passages that feel intrusive—Genesis 38 and 49 and 1 Samuel 13:7b–15a—and that coincide with Judah’s and Saul’s rise or fall in God’s favor. Taking seriously the redaction-critical proposals suggesting that these puzzling segments may stem from a later editorial hand, Sykora reorients them for theological purposes. He reads the two narratives first without and then with these intrusive parts in order to indicate what their message and content might mean for the idea of election in the Old Testament in general and for the fate of unfavored characters in particular. A freshly insightful exploration of chosenness in the Old Testament, The Unfavored guides us to new and deeper interpretations of these biblical texts.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, Historical Books, 1-2 Samuel, Literature, Methods, Literary Approaches

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Review by Tony W. Cartledge
Published 8/8/2019
Citation: Tony W. Cartledge, review of Josef Sykora, The Unfavored: Judah and Saul in the Narratives of Genesis and 1 Samuel, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2019).

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