1 Samuel

by Francesca Aran Murphy


320pp.   $34.99c

Publication Date: November 2010

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Francesca Aran Murphy (PhD, King’s College, London) is professor of systematic theology at the University of Notre Dame and the author of several books, including Christ the Form of Beauty. She previously taught at the School of Divinity, History, and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen.


“Francesca Murphy is at her perceptive and witty best in 1 Samuel. Her truly remarkable breadth of reading, awareness of the ambiguity of both power and vision, love of scripture, and sense of what the church is about today make this a powerful and relevant contribution to the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible. I thoroughly recommend her volume.”—Iain Torrance, president, Princeton Theological Seminary

“The preaching of any scripture requires that we read it in the midst of the one long theological conversation that is the church. Francesca Aran Murphy does this for us with her commentary on 1 Samuel. She pays fastidious attention to the theological readings passed down to us throughout the centuries, from Origen to von Balthasar. She does not discard the modern hermeneutic; rather, she uses it in the service of doing faithful theology for our time. By tracing the ‘many little dramas’ of 1 Samuel, Murphy unfurls the story of God’s drama with Israel in a way that illumines what today we might rightly call ‘the political.’ As a result, the ancient riches of 1 Samuel are opened up in profound new ways for the challenge of being the church that we face today.”—David Fitch, B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology, Northern Seminary

“Murphy guides the reader through the labyrinthine narrative and theology of 1 Samuel, all the while tethered to a careful and cogent reading of the biblical text. Along the way, she enlists an impressive array of interpreters, both ancient and modern, to shed light on the book’s theological twists and turns and its spiritual meaning for those who follow great David’s greater Son. The rich theological conversation that takes place within this volume ensures it a prominent place among recent studies of 1 Samuel.”—L. Daniel Hawk, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Ashland Theological Seminary


“Many commentaries exhibit a strange doubleness. On technical points they are sharp and decisive; on large questions they are evasive. Not Francesca Aran Murphy’s 1 Samuel, the latest volume in the Brazos Theological Commentary series. Murphy is almost belligerently forthright in laying out her interpretations, making her book a delightful read even when one disagrees. And whereas typical commentary is written with all the verve of an instruction manual, Murphy’s prose is fresh, witty, at times exuberant—not to draw attention to itself, but in mimetic homage to the richness of the text.”—John Wilson, Christianity Today

“A thoughtful, stimulating commentary. . . . In her discussion of the text, Murphy draws on a variety of sources throughout church history, ranging from the Church fathers to modern commentators. Her familiarity with this entire range brings together a rich variety of perspectives that would be especially helpful to someone preaching through this book. . . . Murphy gives a thoughtful, sympathetic portrayal of each individual, showing all as very human with their own strengths and weaknesses. This seems to be one of the best features of the book. . . . This is a worthwhile commentary on 1 Samuel. Anyone preaching on Samuel or studying Israel’s united kingdom will find it a helpful resource.”—Michael A. Harbin, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

“This is a uniquely captivating commentary. Add to the mix Murphy’s sense for the aesthetic in her own writing, at times downright hilarious comments, and scattered references to The Bourne Supremacy, Lord of the Rings, and the Daleks from Doctor Who. This, along with her wide appreciation of ancient Christian perspectives on 1 Samuel, also makes this a treasury of spiritual riches. . . . While probably restricted to pastors, students of theology, and those willing to struggle through—or skip—the more abstruse parts of the text, Murphy has done the Church a great favour in bringing to light how the seemingly dusty history of 1 Samuel is ‘an edge-of-the-seat affair.’”—Steve Harris, Christian Courier

“This discussion of 1 Samuel is conducted with great verve by a theologian clearly enthralled by her material; and that makes for attractive reading. . . . Throughout the volume, Murphy discusses the text with a broad choice of partners. . . . Among the strengths of the commentary are the extended and wide-ranging essays that introduce each series.”—Graeme Auld, Expository Times