Using insights about ancient and modern tragedy, this much-praised study offers challenging and provocative new readings of selected biblical narratives: the story of Israel's first king, Saul, rejected for his disobedience to God and driven to despair and madness by an evil spirit from the Lord; the story of Jephthah's sacrifice of his daughter in fulfilment of his vow to offer God a sacrifice in return for military victory; the stories of the members of Saul's house, each of whom comes to a tragic end; and the story of Israel's most famous king, David, whose tragedy lies in the burden of divine judgement that falls upon his house as a consequence of his sins. Exum discusses how these narratives handle such perennial tragic issues as guilt, suffering, and evil. She suggests that the extraordinary range and power of biblical narrative has its source in the Bible's uncompromising portrayal of reality as embracing despair, as well as resolution.
'Exum is one interpreter who faces the dark side of biblical reality without flinching. With a refreshing fidelity to a tradition that struggles with the unintelligible and the contingent ... Exum demonstrates a remarkable literary sensitivity that delights the reader with a well-crafted work of deep insight.' Catholic Biblical Quarterly 'Exum's analysis of the Hebrew texts is subtle and penetrating.' Theology 'The book is excellent ... This is a book to read and reread and one which will make a big contribution to current literary readings of the Bible.' Biblical Interpretation 'Exum writes beautifully.' JSOT