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King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel [Paperback]

By Jonathan Kirsch (Author)
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Item description for King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel by Jonathan Kirsch...

In this "eminently readable account" ("Los Angeles Times"), the author of "Moses: A Life" vibrantly tells the story of David, King of the Jews.

Publishers Description
David, King of the Jews, possessed every flaw and failing of which a mortal is capable, yet men and women adored him, and God showered him with many blessings. A charismatic leader, exalted as “a man after God's own heart,” he was also capable of deep cunning and bloodthirsty violence. Weaving together biblical texts with centuries of interpretation and commentary, as well as the startling discoveries of modern biblical archaeology and scholarship, bestselling author Jonathan Kirsch brings King David to life with extraordinary freshness, intimacy, and vividness of detail, revealing him in all his glory and fallibility. At the center of this taut, dramatic narrative stands a hero of flesh and blood–a man as vibrant and compelling today as he has been for millennia.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Ballantine Books
Pages   400
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.2" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 28, 2001
Publisher   Ballantine Books
ISBN  0345435052  
ISBN13  9780345435057  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jonathan Kirsch

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Jonathan Kirsch, a book columnist for the Los Angeles Times and author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Moses: A Life and The Harlot by the Side of the Road, writes and lectures widely on biblical, literary, and legal topics. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, President of PEN Center USA West, and a former correspondent for Newsweek, he lives in Los Angeles.

Jonathan Kirsch currently resides in Los Angeles, in the state of California. Jonathan Kirsch was born in 1949.

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1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Historical > General
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Historical
4Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
5Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Royalty > General
6Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Royalty
7Books > Subjects > History > Middle East > Israel
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > Old Testament
10Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > General
11Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism

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Books > Bible Study > General Studies > Biblical History & Culture

Reviews - What do customers think about King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel?

Newsweek Covers David  Feb 12, 2007
"Wanna read a bad book?" my friend asked. I wished I had had the foresight to answer "no." Unfortunately, I didn't, and I read all of Jonathan Kirsch's King David. This book is worse than bad, it's an embarrassment. If there's an original idea in the book, Kirsch does an incredible job of hiding it among his numerous quotations or, I should say, "adaptations" from Samuel. The scholarship is paper thin; Kirsch slavishly relies upon the work of others and offers nothing new himself. Basically, Kirsch takes the magnificent KJV translation of the story in I and II Samuel and "punches it up" with Newsweek style. Kirsch appears to pride himself on reading the stories skeptically, as one would hope of any modern journalist reading Samuel, and peppers his comments with phrases such as "as the biblical authors wished to remember him [David]," "so it would seem," and "theological spin." However, except for questions raised by others, Kirsch is one of the most credulous readers of this story I've ever met. He buys almost everything the author tells us about David and the others in this story. As just one example, Kirsch dutifully reports the description in I Samuel 13:3 of Amnon's cousin, Jonadab, as "a very subtle man." And what incredibly subtle advice to Jonadab give his cousin? That Amnon should rape his half-sister Tamar in his own bedroom after setting up the meeting in such a way that all the royal family would know what was going on. If this is "subtlety," then Micky Spillane is John LeCarre! Now of course, it is subtle if Jonadab were in cahoots with someone else in order to destroy Amnon, but Kirsch hasn't the imagination to explore that possibility - or even the possibility that the rape never occurred but its report was concocted for other reasons. On the other hand, if Jonadab was actually trying to help Amnon, then to buy Samuel's description of him as "subtle" is the apex of naivete. Indeed, you'd think Kirsch would ask: is the author being ironic? But no, that would be to expect too much from Kirsch.

Rather than waste your time on this book, let me suggest two others. If you want to accompany a masterful literary scholar reading the story of David, buy Robert Alter's illuminating The David Story. If you want to examine the story of David from the perspective of a modern, secular historian at the top of his craft, buy Baruch Halpern's David's Secret Demons. These are two very different books, and many who like one of them won't like the other. But happy is the reader who can appreciate both. If you choose to read neither Alter nor Halpern, don't waste your time on Kirsch. Just go get a copy of the KJV at your local motel and read Samuel for yourself.
Entertaining and Educational - To a point  Sep 15, 2006
I listened to this book on tape as read by the author himself.

This is one of what appears to be a significantly developing genre of books in the area of theology and Biblical History, designed to be read by the general populace to put in their hands what modern scholarship is saying.

This book does this reasonably well for anyone who is unfamiliar with such terms as Modern Bibical Criticism, J theory, Court Historian etc.

What is not so clear to the average listener is that the primary sources drawn from such as Howard Bloom, Wellhausen and company are considerably from the more liberal and secular camps and that there exists a large body of more conservative material that deals with thses issues with somewhat different conclusions.

There's nothing wrong with that in and of itself. What I find distrubing in these types of Historical Overviews - turned novel is that the hybrid product, while purporting to be factual, uses the change in genre to present the material as somehow more certain or less controversial than is really the case. What's wrong with being a little more deliberate in making the source literature drawn upon a little more diverse and truly allowing the reader to enter into the dialogue and interact with the issues, rather than being led to believe that things are as neat and tidy as a reading of this book would seem to indicate to a reader otherwise unfamiliar with the field?

Those concerns expressed, I did find this to be an interesting and worthwhile listen (read). Old Testament history has been a weakness for me and this did help to fill in some gaps in terms of the what some of the modern scholarship has been giving. In addition, it did present David in terms that helped to place him historically and, as much as the author's approach could allow for with all of its provisos and doubts, somewhat personally.

Listen critically to this work. It seeks, in my opinion, to gloss over some of the ommissions in terms of conflicting material, by making the format flow like a historical novel and a reader can be carried away with that and walk away feeling they have a strong grasp on all that is available in this field. They will not.

Life of David by Arthur Pink would be a good contrast work to see some of the other camp and provide some balance.

Interesting read, but again, read criticically and ask yourself what you're not being told in the midst of it.
Weaves A Biography That Leaves You Hungry For More!  Jun 5, 2005
"King David" introduces the reader to the most central figure of the Old Testament. Author Jonathan Kirsch does an excellent job of fleshing out this legendary figure from the sketchy stories recorded in the Bible. Kirsch follows the biblical writings very closely, unlike other tomes on Biblical subjects which tend to discount the Scriptural accounts. Kirsch starts out with the Scriptural texts and then explains them in light of scholarship concerning the identity and purpose of the various sources and how each may have influenced the final draft of the story. He talks often of the Court Historian, believed to be the primary author, along with later editors who may have supplemented or altered the original text.

This book does a good job at exploring how King David, with all his faults, could be "A man after God's own heart." It tries to part the mists of history to find the flesh and blood man behind the ancient legend. It weaves the scattered Biblical accounts together to form a biography. It explains how David is central to all Biblical characters who follow him.

One standard by which I measure a book is whether it wets my appetite to read more on the subject. I am now reading the David narratives in the Bible. By this measure it passes with flying colors.
Another Quack on the loose!  Aug 1, 2004
Kirsch's account of King David's life is highly questionable to say the least. The book is full of conjecture. The flaws in the author's reasoning are apparent on the face of every page. His perception of King David's relationship with God and country is severely unschooled and a danger to follow. Anyone interested in appreciating the true story of "The man after God's heart" would be better off reading the Biblical accounts. Don't waste your money on this quack historian who seems committed to justifying base persuits with the flaws of the great men and women of Biblical antiquity.
How NOT to write a biography  Jul 24, 2002
It is very evident that the motive of the author was to debunk the Old Testamentin general, and the biblical David in particular. In doing so, he appears to reference all his material with notated references to the index. Howefver, if you examine these references, many are stated as factual material. In reality, they were previously written by another individual,
and their validity is highly suspect. He uses other versions of the Bible to support his position, and roughly 150 books which he eviscerated passages to support his positions. A fairytale!

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