1 Samuel

series: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

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This addition to the well-received Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible offers a theological exegesis of 1 Samuel. This commentary, like each in the series, is designed to serve the church—providing a rich resource for preachers, teachers, students, and study groups—and demonstrate the continuing intellectual and practical viability of theological interpretation of the Bible.

The general editor for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible is R. R. Reno (editor, First Things). Series editors include Robert W. Jenson (Center of Theological Inquiry); Robert Louis Wilken (University of Virginia); Ephraim Radner (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto); Michael Root (Catholic University of America); and George Sumner (Episcopal Diocese of Dallas).

Volumes in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

R. R. Reno (editor, First Things) on Genesis Thomas Joseph White (Thomistic Institute at the Angelicum in Rome) on Exodus Ephraim Radner (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Leviticus David L. Stubbs (Western Theological Seminary) on Numbers Telford Work (Westmont College) on Deuteronomy Paul Hinlicky (Roanoke College) on Joshua Laura A. Smit (Calvin University) and Stephen Fowl (Loyola University Maryland) on Judges & Ruth Francesca Aran Murphy (University of Notre Dame) on 1 Samuel Robert Barron (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles) on 2 Samuel Peter J. Leithart (Theopolis Institute for Bible, Liturgy, and Culture) on 1 & 2 Kings Peter J. Leithart (Theopolis Institute for Bible, Liturgy, and Culture) on 1 & 2 Chronicles Matthew Levering (Mundelein Seminary) on Ezra & Nehemiah Samuel Wells (St. Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church, London) and George Sumner (Episcopal Diocese of Dallas) on Esther & Daniel Ellen T. Charry (Princeton Theological Seminary) on Psalms 1–50 Jason Byassee (Vancouver School of Theology) on Psalms 101–150 Daniel J. Treier (Wheaton College Graduate School) on Proverbs & Ecclesiastes Paul J. Griffiths on Song of Songs Robert W. Jenson (1930–2017; Center of Theological Inquiry) on Ezekiel Phillip Cary (Eastern University) on Jonah Stanley Hauerwas (Duke Divinity School) on Matthew David Lyle Jeffrey (Baylor University) on Luke Jaroslav Pelikan (1923–2006; Yale University) on Acts Kimlyn J. Bender (Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University) on 1 Corinthians Kathryn Greene-McCreight (The Episcopal Church at Yale) on Galatians Michael Allen (Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando) on Ephesians George Hunsinger (Princeton Theological Seminary) on Philippians Christopher R. Seitz (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Colossians Douglas Farrow (McGill University) on 1 & 2 Thessalonians Risto Saarinen (University of Helsinki) on the Pastoral Epistles with Philemon & Jude Douglas Harink (The King’s University College) on 1 & 2 Peter Joseph L. Mangina (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Revelation


"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

Praise for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible:
"What a splendid idea! Many preachers have been longing for more commentaries that are not only exegetical but theological in the best sense: arising out of the conviction that God, through his Word, still speaks in our time. For those of us who take our copies of Martin Luther's Galatians and Karl Barth's Romans from the shelves on a regular basis, this new series in that tradition promises renewed vigor for preaching, and therefore for the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church in our time."--Fleming Rutledge, author of The Bible and The New York Times and The Seven Last Words from the Cross

"This new series places the accent on 'theological' and reflects current interpretive ferment marked by growing resistance to the historical-critical project. It may be that scripture interpretation is too important to be left to the exegetes, and so a return to the theologians. We will wait with great anticipation for this new series, at least aware that the outcomes of interpretation are largely determined by the questions asked. It is never too late to ask better questions; with a focus on the theological tradition, this series holds the promise of asking interpretive questions that are deeply grounded in the primal claims of faith. The rich promise of the series is indicated by the stature and erudition of the commentators. Brazos has enormous promises to keep with this project, and we wait with eagerness for its appearing!"--Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

"The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible makes a most welcome contribution to the church, the academic world, and the general public at large. By enlisting a wide range of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox theologians who differ on much, but who agree on the truth of the Nicene Creed, the series also represents ecumenical activity of the very best kind. It is always a daunting challenge to expound the church's sacred book both simply and deeply, but this impressive line-up of authors is very well situated for the attempt."--Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame

"Preachers and teachers in particular, but thoughtful Christians more generally, have long lamented the slide of biblical scholarship into hyper-specialized critical studies of ancient texts in remote historical context. It is no wonder, therefore, that the Brazos Theological Commentary is being so warmly welcomed. The outstanding array of authors, beginning with Jaroslav Pelikan's splendid commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, is, at long last, reclaiming the Bible as the book of the living community of faith that is the church."--Richard John Neuhaus, author of American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile

"Contemporary application of the Bible to life is the preacher's business. But no worthy contemporary application is possible without a thorough understanding of the ancient text. The Brazos Theological Commentary exists to provide an accessible authority so that the preacher's application will be a ready bandage for all the hurts of life. We who serve the pulpit want a commentary we can understand, and those who hear us expect us to give them a usable word. The Brazos Commentary offers just the right level of light to make illuminating the word the joy it was meant to be."--Calvin Miller, author of A Hunger for the Holy and Loving God Up Close

"For pastors, wanting to get at the theological heart of a text, there is some good stuff. When I am preaching, I usually try to take a peek at the Brazos volume."--Nijay K. Gupta, assistant professor of New Testament, Northeastern Seminary, Roberts Wesleyan College

The Author

  1. Francesca Aran Murphy

    Francesca Aran Murphy

    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...

    Continue reading about Francesca Aran Murphy


"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 the book 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

"Murphy provides something that is often lacking in many commentaries: an explication of the text that is equally focused on the details of the narrative as well as the overall arc and sense of the story as a whole. . . . As with most of the volumes in the Brazos Theological Commentary series, the theological background and depth of this author lends this commentary a highly nuanced and textured reading. . . . Murphy's vision is almost cinematographic and is wonderfully appropriate to the complexity and multivalence of this story. . . . If . . . you want to join a fellow Christian traveler and explore the theological contours of this biblical book, asking how it views politics and prophecy, the relationship between the divine and human realms, and the mysterious ways of God--and seek further help along the journey from the great cloud of witnesses of Christian interpreters who have heard, read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested these texts before us--then this is just the type of volume you want beside you on the way. . . . This volume is a welcome, rich addition to the conversation about the wondrous depth of the ways in which the Bible has spoken throughout history and continues to speak to us today."--Roy L. Heller, Theology Today

"All readers are indebted to Murphy's diligent work to expand one's insights and rich research in studying 1 Samuel."--John T. Willis, Stone-Campbell Journal