Skip to main content
Indiana University Bloomington
  • People


Course Description

David: The Man and the King (3 cr)
Stephen Katz
JSTU-L 280 #30957
TR 1-2:15 BH 138

Can the ancestor of the messiah be an adulterer or the slayer of God’s chosen? Was David’s ascent to the throne divine election or political intrigue? Does the Hebrew Bible describe David as a saint or sinner? Was David a man of God or a ruthless tactician? Was his destiny made or preordained? David is one of the Bible’s foremost figures whose lasting impact in the Judeo-Christian world includes the father of a dynasty bearing his name and as the begetter of the Messiah. He is depicted as a great warrior, an aspirant to the throne, and the author of some of the most sublime psalms. He is also a great tactician, a lover and troubled husband, and father of those whose intrigues have become legend in biblical narrative. These traits have inspired many commentaries, interpretations and retellings, works of art, and expressions of romantic and socio-political narratives.

This course aims to sample a range of works of literature--poetry and prose--against the background of biblical and post-biblical (midrash) narratives--Jewish, Christian and Islamic--focused on interpreting the image of David as a man and a king and as an example of how power affects people. We will read selections from world literature that adhere to and depart from the original narrative, each in their own way, and focus and refocus our recognition of the diverse ways in which David continues to be viewed as a man and a king.