Compare and contrast the various texts on the topic of kingship in the Hebrew Bible, especially as found in the so-called Deuteronomistic Literature (Joshua through Kings).

Compare and contrast the various texts on the topic of kingship in the Hebrew Bible, especially as found
in the so-called Deuteronomistic Literature (Joshua through Kings). What are the positive aspects of
kingship as described, for example, in the books of Samuel? And what are the negative counterparts of
those positive aspects? Be concise, yet clear and logical in the exposition of those aspects, using specific
biblical and ANE examples, as appropriate. Finally, and most importantly, construct a clear argument
for the appropriateness (and non-appropriateness) of the institution of the monarchy in ancient Israel.
Be sure to make reference to the following: “The Law of the King” in Deut 17:14-20; the pro- and antimonarchical
texts found in 1 Samuel chs. 8-12; the great Davidic covenant text found in 2 Samuel ch. 7,
and the following royal psalms: Ps 2; 72; 110. A brief look at the “Code of Hammurabi,” especially the
prologue and the epilogue, would also be germane. In short, argue the case both for and against the
institution of the monarchy in the ANE based on these texts–with the underlying context being that such
a discussion as this has significant repercussions for evaluating present day systems of governance found
throughout the world.
Two things are critical for this short essay:
• First, the essay should make a clear argument and should be structured as a short thesis. It should
open with a thesis paragraph; each paragraph should develop the argument, and there should be a
meaningful conclusion. The essay should not be a static comparison and should not simply provide
text summaries.
• Second, you should assume that the final editors of the Deuteronomistic history were very familiar
with the institution of the Davidic monarchy, and had, as it were, made their “peace” with it. But
they certainly did not accept it simply as a “divinely ordained given.” Quite the contrary–their
criticisms of the institution of monarchy remain remarkably pointed and trenchant. So should yours!
Suggestions:
• Students should focus on a detailed reading and analysis of the primary texts (as listed above), rather
than on preparing a formal research essay that uses secondary, scholarly sources.
• Students are encouraged to consider using diagrams to “plot” the major points of comparison and
contrast. Any such diagrams should, however, also be explained and clarified in words.
• Choose a title for your essay that is not simply neutral (“Essay 1” or “Comparison of . . . ”) but that
reflects your overall thesis and position.
Formal Expectations and Timeline:
• This first of the two required short essays should be typed in a format suitable for online submission.
It should include a cover page, and, as noted, should carry an apt title that reflects the specific
argument; and pages should be numbered (cover page is 0). Be sure carefully both to proof-read and
to spell-check. Make sure page margins are no larger than one inch, and typeface 12 point.
• Minimum length for the essay: three full pages, four would be better. Bring three copies of the essay
to class, Wednesday, March 6, two for peer-review, one for formal submission. Submission of the
final draft will take place a week later (class time, March 13), with one copy of the essay brought to
class, and the electronic version submitted to Moodle (and automatically linked to “Turnitin.com”).
_____________________________________________________________________________
GRADING MATRIX FOR ESSAY ON KINGSHIP
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
Content and Ideas:
1. Clear demonstration arguments for the monarchy _________________________________________________/9
(specific textual references; argument anchored in the texts)
2. Clear demonstration of arguments against the monarchy ____________________________________________/9
(specific textual references; argument anchored in the texts)
3. Statement and sustained demonstration of the author’s thesis _______________________________________/12
(coherent, balanced, nuanced discussion)
Additional:
1. Use of diagrams or other graphic comparisons to clarify the discussion ________________________________/3
2. Citations from Hammurapi’s Stele or other pertinent ANE references __________________________________/2
Form and Clarity of Expression:
1. Correct grammar, spelling; clarity of expression __________________________________________________/8
2. Correct margins and font size _________________________________________________________________/3
3. All parts present, including:
Specific thesis paragraph; body with arguments;
conclusion; numbered pages and title: _________________________________________________________/4
Total: _____/50 = ____%

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