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Knowing Kings: Knowledge, Power, and Narcissism in the Hebrew Bible
Stuart Lasine
SemeiaSt 40
Publication Date
September 2001


In Knowing Kings, biblical scholar and comparatist Stuart Lasine offers a unique study of kingship and biblical kings. Using methods derived from psychology, literary theory, and the social sciences, he demonstrates the crucial role played by information management in the maintenance and exercise of monarchical power and explores the paradoxical nature of the king’s position in the center of society. Lasine’s interdisciplinary approach includes illuminating interpretations of the biblical Saul, David, and Solomon, as well as the kingly figures Adam and Job. Among the nonbiblical monarchs discussed are Ramesses II, Esarhaddon, Homer’s Achilles and Sophocles’s King Oedipus. Lasine shows that the concept of narcissism provides a valuable tool for understanding the behavior of biblical kings, including the divine king and parent Yahweh. Knowing Kings, painstakingly researched and carefully documented, is frequently surprising as Lasine employs a variety of inventive styles to keep the discussion lively and to sustain the reader’s interest.

“Stuart Lasine skillfully guides his readers throughthe labyrinthine and largely unexplored tunnel system connecting the courts ofthe biblical kings and their heavenly counterpart, Yahweh, with those of adizzying array of other monarchs across a broad range of cultures and historicalepochs. In the process, our understanding of biblical kings, both human anddivine, is deepened and thoroughly defamiliarized. This is a consummatelyliterate and erudite study that richly repays reading and rereading.”
—Stephen D. Moore, The Theological School, Drew University

Stuart Lasine is Associate Professor of Religion,Ransom-Butler Department of Religion, at Wichita State University.