New in paperback. Hardcover was published in 2000. First biography of David from a purely historical perspective reveals not a hero but a holy terrorist and a ruthless despot.
Through a close and critical reading of biblical texts, ancient history, and recent archeological discoveries, Steven L. McKenzie concludes that David was indeed a real person. This David was not the humble shepherd who slew Goliath and became king, however, but was a usurper, adulterer, and murderer—a Middle Eastern despot of a familiar type. McKenzie shows that the story of humble beginnings is utterly misleading: "shepherd" is a metaphor for "king," and David
came from a wealthy, upper-class background. Similarly, McKenzie reveals how David's ascent to power, traditionally attributed to popularity and divine blessing, in fact resulted from a campaign of terror and assassination. While instituting a full-blown Middle Eastern monarchy, David was an aggressive
leader, a devious politician, and a ruthless war chief. Throughout his scandalous reign, important figures who stood in his way died at convenient times, under questionable circumstances. Even his own sons were not spared. David's story, writes McKenzie, "reads like a modern soap opera, with plenty of sex, violence, and struggles for power."
Introduction: Images: The Need for a Biography of David; 1. Was there a historical David? Extrabiblical Sources; 2. Royal Propaganda: The Bible's Account of David's Life; 3. Was David a Shepherd? David's origins and youth; 4. Who killed whom? The Goliath story and David's career as a soldier; 5. Holy terrorist: David and his outlaw band; 6. Assassin: David's reign as King of Judah; 7. The cost of kingship: the policies and changes of David's administration; 8. Like father, like son: the Bathsheba Affair and Absolom's revolt; 9. Poetic justice: the last days of King David; 10. Finished portrait: a synopsis