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The Enticement To Re-Read: Repetition as Parody in 2 Samuel

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image of Biblical Interpretation

The story of Nathan's parable in 2 Samuel 12 and the story of David's encounter with the woman of Teqoa in 2 Samuel 14 bear striking structural similarities. In both, the king is enticed into committing himself by an oath in response to a fictional story retailed to him on behalf of a third person. The argument of this paper is that the relationship between the two is parodic; 2 Samuel 14 contains a bathetic reprise of motifs and devices from the earlier story. Once the reader has registered this, the effect is to raise questions as to what is going on in the earlier story. Rereading 2 Samuel 12 in the light of 2 Samuel 14 raises questions about David's capacity to read events clearly. Both stories provide an internal model of text reception, which is complicated by the parodic reflection of the model. Drawing on studies of similar devices in ancient Greek novels, I argue that the result for the reader is to throw into question the categories of reading strategies we apply to the text.


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