Who Wrote 1 Samuel?

There are various theories on who wrote the Book of Samuel.

  • One theory suggests that Samuel himself, the prophet and judge, wrote the book. Supporters of this theory argue that Samuel had firsthand knowledge of the events described and was uniquely positioned to record them.
  • Another theory proposes that the book was written by multiple authors over a period of time. Suggesting that different sections of the book may have been written by different individuals, who later compiled them together.
  • Some scholars also attribute the authorship to a group of anonymous writers known as the Deuteronomists, who were responsible for writing and editing several books of the Bible.

Samuel as the Author of the Book

An obvious theory regarding the authorship of the Book of Samuel is that Samuel himself may have been the one who wrote the book.

Samuel, being an influential figure in Israelite history, would have been in a unique position to record the events that took place during his lifetime. As a prophet, Samuel had a close relationship with God, which would have given him insight into the divine purpose behind these events.

His role as a judge allowed him to witness firsthand the political and social developments of the time. Therefore, it’s plausible to consider Samuel as the author of the Book of Samuel, providing an eyewitness account of the events that unfolded during his era.

Conversely, 1 Samuel 25:1 records the death of Samuel. A point that shows, logically, he could not have written the same book his death is recorded in. A telling sign for some that, at the least, he did not author the entire book and perhaps provided authorship until his point of passing.

Then Samuel died; and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the Wilderness of Paran.

1 Samuel 25:1, NKJV

What Evidence Suggests That Samuel Himself May Have Been the Author of the Book?

The evidence suggesting that Samuel himself may have been the author of the book of Samuel includes:

  • His personal involvement in the events described.
  • The intimate knowledge of the characters and historical context.

This speculation is supported by Samuel’s role as a prophet and judge during the time period covered in the book, as well as his close relationship with key figures such as Saul and David. Additionally, the book contains details that only someone who lived during that time and had insider knowledge would know.

However, it is important to note that this theory is not universally accepted, and there are alternative hypotheses regarding the authorship of the book.

Possible Collaborators and Editors

Possible collaborations between authors and editors could have played a role in the writing of the Book of Samuel.

While it’s widely believed that Samuel was the primary author, the possibility of others contributing to the text can’t be ruled out. Collaborators may have provided additional information or helped shape the narrative.

Editors, on the other hand, could have been involved in the compilation and organization of the book, ensuring its coherence and consistency. These individuals may have helped refine the language and style, ensuring that the final product was accessible and engaging for readers.

Although the exact identities of these potential collaborators and editors remain unknown, their involvement could have contributed to the overall composition and structure of the Book of Samuel.

An Argument for the Deuteronomists writing 1 Samuel

The Deuteronomistic theory suggests that the book of 1 Samuel was written to promote the theological and political agenda of the Deuteronomistic school, which emphasized the importance of obeying the law of God as a condition for the well-being of Israel.

This is supported by the emphasis on the people’s rejection of God as their king in 1 Samuel 8, which aligns with the central theme of the Deuteronomistic history.

And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.

1 Samuel 8:7, NKJV

Additionally, scholars argue that 1 Samuel was written to historically instruct the kings of Israel and to emphasize the importance of trusting in the Lord, which are key elements of the Deuteronomistic theology. 

The book of 1 Samuel, therefore, can be seen as a part of the larger Deuteronomistic historical work, which includes the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and 1-2 Kings.