Tragic Anti-Heroes

  • Ulrich Simon


The books of Judges and of Samuel report exploits of heroes whose heroism is so ambiguous as to be almost non-existent. Yet it so happens that this story material has the form and content which approximates the tragic genius of Greece and Mesopotamia more than any other Biblical narratives. The material is also highly dramatic, and, although its influence on Christian morality is negligible and at times almost forgotten, great works of art bring a sudden reminder that they speak to us. Without the epic of Samson and the account of Saul’s rise and fall, the Christian tradition would be greatly impoverished.


Christian Tradition Christian Morality Biblical Narrative Fervent Rhythm Tragic Hero 
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  1. 1.
    See Robert G. Boling, Judges (1975) p. 252, for an excellent summary of the problems created by contrasting strands of narrative.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    E. Wiesel, Five Biblical Portraits (1981), stresses the tragic tension in the Biblical narrative. See also his Célébration biblique (1975), for a post-Auschwitz exposition of the mysterious ‘heroes’ of Genesis.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ulrich Simon 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich Simon
    • 1
  1. 1.Emeritus ProfessorUniversity of LondonUK

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