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The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero
Joel Baden, associate professor of Old Testament
In “The Historical David” Joel Baden offers a controversial look at the history of King David, considered the founder of the nation of Israel whose bloodline leads to Jesus, challenging prevailing popular beliefs about his legend.
Baden contends that the biblical account of David is an attempt to shape the events of his life politically and theologically. Going beyond the biblical bias, Baden explores the events that lie behind the David story, events that are grounded in the context of the ancient Near East and continue to inform modern Israel, he maintains.
“The Historical David” exposes David as an ambitious, ruthless, flesh-and-blood man who achieved power by any means necessary, including murder, theft, bribery, sex, deceit, and treason. Baden argues that the biblical story of David is political spin, “the goal of which is to absolve David of any potential guilt and to show him in a positive light.” Through deep textual analysis, Baden reveals how the historical David has been painstakingly and successfully diminished, replaced by the portrait of the king with whom we are now familiar.