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Introduction to the biblical oath

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Chapter Summary

The Bible makes extensive use of the practice of oath-taking. Occasions for oath-taking range from private interactions to public, formal events. Oaths may be spoken by an ordinary person, a leader, a collective entity such as the entire nation, or even by God. This chapter explores the nature of the oath and examines various approaches with respect to the source of its power. It examines the literary significance of the various formulae used to make oaths in the biblical narratives. Operating under the assumption that oaths have been artfully formulated in order to highlight and thrust forward different aspects of the biblical narrative, the chapter carefully examines the subtle differences in each respective formula of oath-making in an attempt to mine them for additional insights into the narratives. The chapter engages in an analysis of the narratives which depict two biblical characters who frequently engage in oath-making, Saul and David.

Keywords: Biblical narratives; David; oath-taking; Saul



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