Twice Used Songs: Performance Criticism of the Songs of Ancient Israel

by Terry Giles and William J. Doan

(Hendrickson, 2008)

Featured at SBL 2008 on November 24 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM


Terry Giles and Bill Doan have teamed up to apply the methodologies of performance criticism to the “performances” found in songs that are used in the Old Testament narrative. These songs were first used elsewhere and thus are “twice-used.” The result is a serious, helpful, innovative appraisal of Scripture portions that often seem “out of place” within their narrative contexts. With the aid of this new application of insights from the theatre arts, portions of Scripture spring up fresh and alive, giving the present-day reader valuable insights into why these “twice-used songs” are found where they are, and how they were designed to draw in the original readers/hearers to these passages.

Performance criticism tries to understand the significance of the history of this material as something that was performed—sung, in a community, with various participants and with responses expected from the audience. The authors explore how the Old Testament writers imbedded these songs in their prose so as to add persuasiveness to the narration. The work includes two extensive bibliographies, one related to the biblical passages and the second to the emerging methodology as an aid to those encountering this inter-disciplinary work for the first time.