"Medieval David, Christian Hero?"
by Ruth Mazo Karras
Fellow, Israel Institute for Advanced Studies and Distinguished Teaching Professor of History University of Minnesota
King David served as an important historical, prophetic and redemptive figure in all three medieval Abrahamic religions. This lecture focuses on David's use as a symbol of key aspects of masculinity in medieval Christian Europe: military prowess, bonding with other men, and heterosexual drive. David was considered one of the “Nine Worthies,” great generals, along with Joshua and Judah the Maccabee, yet his fight with Goliath makes the point that faith defeats strength and skill. His relationship with Jonathan was given a series of contested political meanings. His adultery with Bathsheba was a defining sin which nonetheless worked out in the end to demonstrate his status as chosen by God to establish a great house that would provide the Messiah.