Making Men: The Male Coming-of-Age Theme in the Hebrew Bible

ISBN : 9780190222826

Stephen M. Wilson
272 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jan 2016
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In Making Men, Stephen M. Wilson identifies and elaborates on a theme in the Hebrew Bible that has largely gone unnoticed by scholars: the transition of a male adolescent from boyhood to manhood. Beyond identifying the coming-of-age theme in different biblical texts, the project also describes how the theme is employed by biblical narrators and redactors to highlight broader messages and transitions in various historical narratives. It also considers how these stories provide insight into the varying representations of biblical masculinity. Five case studies of male coming-of-age are identified: David in 1 Samuel 17; Solomon in 1 Kings 1-2; an alternative tale of Solomon's maturation in 1 Kings 3; Moses in Exodus 2; and Samuel in 1 Samuel 3. Additionally, two narratives showing the failure to transition to manhood are considered: the story of Jether in Judges 8, and Samson in Judges 13-16. In each case study, the narrator's techniques for highlighting the maturation theme are identified, as are the ways that the narrator employs the theme point to other significant plot points or narrative transitions. These seven case studies are also compared based on the image of masculinity that they present. Two narratives-those of Samuel's and Solomon's maturations-depart from the standard image, each in the same way: both depict a masculinity free of violence and the need for the constant, forceful defense of manhood and honor. Since these two texts have often been ascribed to the same author, the Deuteronomistic Historian, the study suggests that he may be offering a new view of masculinity more suited to his historical context.


Iintroduction: Masculinity Studies, Rites of Passage, and the Absence of an Extended Treatment of Male Coming of Age in Biblical Scholarship

Chapter 1: The Defining Characteristics of Manhood in the Hebrew Bible

Chapter 2: The Depiction of Boyhood in the Hebrew Bible

Chapter 3: Moses and Samuel: Case Studies of Pre-Monarchic Maturation

Chapter 4: David and Solomon: Case Studies of Royal Maturation

Chapter 5: Failing To Come of Age in the Hebrew Bible

Chapter 6: Conclusion

Appendix: Are There Other Stories of Biblical Male Maturation?

About the author: 

Stephen M. Wilson was raised on a family farm in southern Delaware. While attending Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, he realized that the foreign culture that most fascinated him was ancient Israel, and devoted himself to studying its history and literature. He completed his doctorate at Duke University, where he specialized in social-scientific and literary readings of the Hebrew Bible. He is currently the Conrad J. Bergendoff Visiting Fellow in Religion at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.

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