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A King and a Fool? Verbal irony in 2 Samuel 11:1-19:8a

Ingram, Virginia (2016) A King and a Fool? Verbal irony in 2 Samuel 11:1-19:8a. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The Succession Narrative portrays King David, Absalom and Amnon as corrupt. This can be stated with certainty. However, determining the genre of the narrative is not so straight-forward. Some of the various interpretations of the categories thus far are, national epic, propaganda, wisdom literature, theological ‘history’ writing, literary art, and njals saga. This dissertation starts from the premise that the Succession Narrative is a work of literary art, but goes on to argue that the Succession Narrative is probably a work of satire in particular. The essential feature of satire is a pervasive sense of irony which is intentional and critical. To satisfy the claim that a work is satire one must demonstrate that it has a pervasive and critical sense of irony, provide evidence of a few of the other features of satire, and display an object of attack. This work is focused on irony, as it is the essential element of a satire. Moreover, unlike the other elements of satire, irony is a complex phenomenon that requires detailed scholarly investigation. Further, since verbal irony is the type of irony found in satire, the focus of this work is on verbal irony. Specifically, Douglas Muecke’s taxonomy of verbal irony has been applied to 2 Sam 11:1-19:8a. In a lesser way this work has applied David Marcus’ taxonomy of elements of satire to 2 Sam 11:1-19:8a, to discern the other features of satire including, fantastic events, grotesqueries, distortions, ridicule, parody, and rhetorical features. It is argued that there is a pervasive sense of critical irony in 2 Sam 11:1-19:8a, along with examples of the other lesser features of satire, and an object of attack. These findings are sufficient to demonstrate that 2 Sam 11:1-19:8a is a work of satire, and that the Succession Narrative is probably a satire given that 2 Sam 11:1-19:8a is three quarters of the narrative that is known as the Succession Narrative. It can then be considered that the function of 2 Sam 11:1-19:8a, in keeping with the function of satire, is to criticize the abuse of power in the monarchy, and to imply the need for reform.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor: Boorer, Suzanne and Trotter, James
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