Divine Silence in Stefan Heym’s The King David Report


This essay deals with Stefan Heym’s King David Report as a work of artistically-based biblical scholarship rather than a work of political allegory related to the writer’s experience in the East Block during the Cold War. I consider Baruch Halpern’s notion of complementary causation (the attribution of causes behind given biblical events to divine and human agency at the same time) in connection to King David’s seduction of Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of Bathsheba’s husband in 2 Samuel. I try to demonstrate Heym’s refusal to attribute complementary causation to the biblical events in order to expose David and Solomon as Machiavellian autocrats rather than instruments of God. Given that (according to Baruch Halpern) the biblical story of David is an apologia of Solomon’s illegitimate rule, Stefan Heym’s novel undermines the traditional view of Solomon as a Christ type and a great Israelite monarch. Heym’s position is contrasted with the deeply ingrained tradition in Judeo-Christian culture of seeing David’s life in terms of complementary causation. The conclusion seeks to illustrate Heym’s general philosophic stance that makes spirituality and power incompatible.

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Correspondence to Vladimir Tumanov.

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Tumanov, V. Divine Silence in Stefan Heym’s The King David Report . Neophilologus 93, 499–509 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11061-008-9109-9

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  • Old Testament
  • 1 and 2 Samuel
  • David and Solomon
  • Complementary Causation
  • Baruch Halpern
  • Divine Intervention
  • Bathsheba
  • Stefan Heym's King David Report