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The Sword of Goliath: David in Heroic Literature
Stanley Isser
Publication Date
September 2003


The Sword of Goliath offers a fresh view of the biblical story of David, shifting the focus from historicity to issues of genre and popular culture. Isser compares the biblical stories of David with other heroic literature, including the Greek heroes of Homer, King Arthur, and Robin Hood. He suggests that the David stories originated in popular heroic literature that continued to grow during the later monarchy and into the Persian period. The biblical stories represent only a fragment of an extensive body of folktale and legend about David that has been lost. Isser engages a wide array of biblical scholarship on David with helpful surveys of the relevant debates and issues and illuminates the complexity and difficulty of ascertaining the historicity of much of the David traditions. Readers will find here a new perspective on the biblical David that moves beyond the current historical debate in biblical studies.

Stanley Isser is Associate Professor of Judaic Studies and Religious Studies at University at Albany, State University of New York.