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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

“Tell Me, O Muse”: The Song of Deborah (Judges 5) in the Light of Heroic Poetry
Echols, Charles L.

New York: T&T Clark, 2008 pp. xiii + 241. $130.00

Series Information
The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, 487

Description: This study of the so-called Song of Deborah explains both the enigmatic role of Yahweh in the poem and its heroic ethos through a comparative study of heroic poetry. Part I addresses preliminary critical issues, the most important being the poem’s unity. Although the case for the poem’s unity has merit, the stronger argument is that religious material was added. How, then, do we account for a Yahwistic poem which primarily praises the human characters? Part II establishes a basis of comparison for the original poem through a survey of heroic poetry. After determining that the original poem is not the narrative type, subgenres of the lyric family are analyzed. The results of the survey of heroic poetry are then used to determine whether the poem is heroic. The poem is assessed for heroic and non-heroic features, and the results indicate that it is indeed a heroic victory song. The refinement of the generic classification reveals a new literary genre in the Hebrew Bible and the social context from which the poem arose as well as explains the enigmatic role of Yahweh in the poem.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Historical Books, Judges, Literature

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Review by Klaas Spronk
Published 2/3/2010
Citation: Klaas Spronk, review of Charles L. Echols, “Tell Me, O Muse”: The Song of Deborah (Judges 5) in the Light of Heroic Poetry, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2010).

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