But the incident was evidently unknown to the author of chap. xv., and in this subordination of the history of Saul to that of David, in the reshaping of writings by specifically Judaean hands, we have a preliminary clue to the literary growth of the book.
Any careful perusal of modern attempts to recover historical facts or an historical outline from the book will show how very inadequate the material proves to be, and the reconstructions will be found to depend upon an interpretation of the narratives which is often liberal and not rarely precarious, and to imply such reshaping and rewriting of the presumed facts that the cautious reader can place little reliance on them.
It retains some of the canonical matter, often with considerable reshaping, Questions o mits many details (especially those to which exception of date.
The present J and E reflect a reshaping and readjustment of earlier tradition which is found elsewhere, and the suggestion that they are not far removed from the age of the priestly writers and redactors does not conflict with what is known of language, forms of religious thought, or tendencies of tradition.
Even this province was with difficulty maintained: the disturbances in the Levant and in Asia Minor (which belong to Aegean and Hittite history) and the revival of Assyria were reshaping the political history of Western Asia.