Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jay Anderson, Lynwood Montell, Ron Veenker

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


A biblical passage from the Old Testament book of I Samuel is studied from the perspective of narrative, folktale, and proverb. The narrative account of Saul's becoming the first king of Israel, as depicted in I Sam. 9:1-10:16, is examined and found to be an example of traditional folk narrative. Using the work of Stith Thompson and Axel Olrik, the Saul narrative yields evidence indicating it is composed of traditional motifs and arranged in a manner reflecting traditional interpretation. Within the larger Hebrew narrative of the I Sam. 9:1-10:16 passage there is lodged a folktale. The folktale is found interspersed with other narrative material composed and collected by the biblical editor. The folktale, when singled out, is located in I Sam. 9:1-14, 18-19, 22-24; 10:2-4, 9, 14-16a. Identifying the folktale in the Saul narrative is done by using the work of Bascom, a folklorist, and Gressman, a biblical scholar. A proverb appears within the bounds of the I Sam. 9:1-10:16 passage in 10:10-13. After presenting several proverb definitions, attention is focused on the biblical equivalent of a proverb--mashal. The characteristics of proverbs are applied to the mashal about Saul and the mashal is shown to be a traditional proverb. Working with the tools of folklorists and biblical scholars is both necessary and instructive when studying biblical literature from the standpoint of narrative.


Anthropology | Arts and Humanities | Biblical Studies | Linguistic Anthropology | Religion | Social and Behavioral Sciences