The three Nathan narratives in 2 Samuel and 1 Kings are given detailed consideration in this fascinating study. A persuasive attempt is made to reconstruct the original form of the traditions and to trace the modifications made to them before they were finally accepted into the Succession Narrative. The original Nathan, a court official and chief spokesman for the Jebusite group, sought a working compromise between the original Jebusite inhabitants of Jerusalem and its new Israelite settlers. After accepting service under King David, Nathan tried to secure the best he could for the Jebusites in this new situation. When this tradition was expanded, modified and theologized, the consistent Nathan of early tradition became a complex character, and almost appears as a dual personality: the diplomatic court prophet of the original narrative became an outspoken prophet of Yahweh in the “theological” accounts of his activities.
Gwilym H. Jones is Professor of Religious Studies in the University of Wales, Bangor.