A King and a Fool?

The Succession Narrative as a Satire


In A King and a Fool? The Succession Narrative as a Satire Virginia Miller applies a new version of Douglas Muecke’s taxonomy of irony to the Succession Narrative. She argues that the narrative in 2 Samuel and 1 Kings has the essential feature of satire, namely, a pervasive sense of pejoratively critical irony. By her account, King David is the object of ironic attack, and therefore, an object of condemnation. Given that the primary purpose of satire is reform, Miller claims that the purpose of the Succession Narrative is a call for reform in the leadership of Israel.
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Virginia Miller, Ph.D. (2016), Murdoch University, is a research fellow at the Centre for Public and Contextual Theology at Charles Sturt University, Canberra. She has published widely on the subject of irony in the Bible.
"The story of David and his progeny in 2 Samuel–1 Kings (and 1 Samuel!) is a masterful piece of literature, and it is not surprising that it has defied easy classification. Miller’s work has made a persuasive case that this literature is rife with irony and has made a strong case for identifying it as a satire. Whether or not this study persuades scholarship to view the Succession Narrative as satire, this work is one that has pushed the conversation forward and will need to be considered in future work on David’s story."

- Benjamin J. M. Johnson, LeTourneau University, in SBL Review


Part 1: Historical Context and Methodology

1 The Genre Debate and Satire
 1.1 The Genre Debate
 1.2 The Succession Narrative as Satire?

2 Methodology and Irony
 2.1 Irony
 2.2 Methodology
 2.3 Verbal Irony and the Succession Narrative

Part 2: Evidence

3 David’s Sins and Punishments
 3.1 2 Samuel 9:1–13
 3.2 2 Samuel 10:1–19
 3.3 2 Samuel 11:1–27
 3.4 2 Samuel 11:27b–12:31

4 Amnon’s Sin and Absalom’s Revenge
 4.1 2 Samuel 13:1–39

5 The Deception of the Wise Woman of Tekoa
 5.1 2 Samuel 14:1–33

6 Absalom’s Revolt
 6.1 2 Samuel 15–18
 6.2 2 Samuel 16:1–23
 6.3 2 Samuel 17
 6.4 2 Samuel 18:1–19:8a

7 The Kingdom is Restored to David
 7.1 2 Samuel 19:1–20:26
 7.2 2 Samuel 20:1–26

8 Solomon Rises to the Throne
 8.1 I Kings 1:1–53
 8.2 I Kings 2:1–46

9 The Non-Essential Elements of Satire
 9.1 Introduction
 9.2 Conclusion

Part 3: Conclusions

10 The Genre Debate: 100 Years of the Succession Narrative
 10.1 Satire
 10.2 Conclusion

11 Findings
 11.1 Verbal Irony
 11.2 Characterisations from a Consideration of the Text in Terms of Verbal Irony

12 Conclusion
 12.1 Conclusion
All who are interested in the Succession Narrative, the books of Second Samuel and First Kings, and irony in the Bible.
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