Allegiance to David: The Characterization of Jonathan, Abigail, and Abner

Several scholars have highlighted comparative analogies in Samuel that contribute to the characterization of David and of secondary characters (See Alter, Bodi, Garsiel, and Gilmour). In this paper, I will build on these observations and principles as I argue that the author intends to idealize allegiance to David by providing key elements of correspondence between Abigail, Jonathan, and Abner.

The declarations of allegiance that proceed from the mouths of Jonathan, Abigail, and Abner all share common elements. Each character (1) experiences a transition of allegiance, (2) brings gifts to David, (2) exemplifies faith in David’s future, (4) recognizes the Lord’s action for David, and (5) desires future preservation by the hand of David. I will therefore analyze the direct speech of these characters, highlighting these five elements of commonality. In the final part of this paper, I will then connect this textual analysis to the overall intent of the author from my perspective: The writer provides these declarations as examples for emulation.

Auerbach, Alter, Berlin, and Sternberg have provided principles of literary analysis that lay the foundation for a more detailed characterization analysis. More recently, Bodner and Johnson’s monograph (Characters and Characterization in the Book of Samuel) has done much to apply these principles to the text of Samuel. In his monograph, Jonathan Jacobs takes a principle from Uriel Simon that minor characters exist to illuminate details about the major characters. Jacobs works this principle out in detail by displaying the literary correlation between Michal and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 19 (166). Rachelle Gilmour has also provided further analysis and comparative work relevant to my study. This paper will build on these works and apply a similar methodology of character analysis to prove that the author intended his readers to see literary correspondence between Abigail, Jonathan, and Abner.

5 thoughts on “Allegiance to David: The Characterization of Jonathan, Abigail, and Abner”

  1. Ahlgreen x 2
    I agree. Especially since it is not a discussion of but a putting into use of Auerbach, Alter et al. And yes, the first proposal is to be preferred over the second.


Leave a Comment