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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 Gods 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 blooda man as vibrant and compelling today as he has been for millennia.
The difficulty of bringing into perspective figures that are larger than life is well known to Jonathan Kirsch, the author of a life of Moses and of the provocative biblical study The Harlot by the Side of the Road. In this well-researched narrative he attempts the same for King David, arguably the most important figure in the entire Jewish Bible. By searching for the real King David, Kirsch does not claim to bring new information to this study. He is more journalist than biblical scholar, and clearly acknowledges when he is speculating (as, for example, in his reconstruction of the scene when David first glimpses the beautiful Bathsheba). Rather, he wants to remind his readers that David is not myth but flesh and blood and is, astonishingly, presented this way in the biblical texts themselves. He is real, human, both heroic and flawed.
Following much of modern scholarship in calling the Bible "a patchwork of ancient texts that were composed and compiled by countless authors and editors," this study is clearly not going to appeal to most fundamentalist readers. Neither is it intended for scholars. It should, however, satisfy many readers who wish to explore more deeply the fascinating and pivotal life of a very real man, a charismatic leader who, as one historian puts it, "played exquisitely, fought heroically, and loved titanically." --Doug Thorpe
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