Goliath is a comedy about a cat and one man’s search for his cat. After a Divorce the man gets the cat, he needs to find his cat.
See the trailer for Goliath here:
Sunny Griffin (text) and Donna Lee Hill (illustrations),
David and The Very Scary Giant.
Ashland, OH: Landoll, 1994.
Some children’s books are quite oblique when it comes to explaining what happens to Goliath at the end of the story of David and Goliath. After a very slow build-up, with lots of background about David as a young boy and how he looked after his sheep – David and The Very Scary Giant suddenly gets to the climax:
The text explains that David’s stone killed Goliath. That is, however, the last page. There’s no actual depiction of David killing Goliath, just the expectation in Goliath’s eyes. And there is definitely no head-chopping.
My favourite David and Goliath children’s books are the ones aimed at very young readers. To be clear, they are my favourite. I wouldn’t let them near actual children.
Take this one, a short board book, in the series “The Toddlers Bible Library”: V. Gilbert Beers (text), David Fights a Giant. The Toddlers Bible Library (Wheaton: Paradise Press, 1993).
I dunno – something about that series title (The Toddlers Bible Library) might have perhaps provided a hint that the David & Goliath story wasn’t really suitable.
Yet the authors attempt to make it suitable for toddlers by making it obscure how exactly David killed Goliath. The two characters never appear in the same shot, but only on successive pages. So your toddler doesn’t get to see this whole scene, which I’ve spliced together for older readers (R18):
And then you get a shot of Goliath lying down. One is not quite sure why he is lying down. To sanitise it for toddlers, the authors have had to make the plot undecipherable. But they do make the reason clear for why David defeated the giant: because he asked God for help, whereas Goliath did not. (No mention that it was ‘help’ … to kill someone.)
This is either a very confusing story for toddlers, or – if their parents explain what’s happening – a very unsuitable story for toddlers. All this explains a lot about how Christians turn out, though.
DON VERDEAN: Okay, right now we’re standing in the very creek bed
where David collected his five stones. That means the Philistine army
would have camped over here and the Israelites would have camped over there… Military protocol of the day would put David and Goliath somewhere right here in the middle.
CAROL: What is this place?
DON VERDEAN: This is the ancient village of Gath. Goliath’s birthplace. We all need to keep our eyes peeled for any natural landmarks… a… a monument of sorts.
CAROL: What about that monolith right there?
DON VERDEAN: What monolith?
CAROL: Right there.
DON VERDEAN: That’s not a bad idea.
CAROL: Well, to me, this monolith represents the physical strength of Goliath.
So, it only makes sense that they would’ve used something like this as a grave marker.
DON VERDEAN: Dang, you’re a natural…
Everyone be careful. Most Philistine graves in this region are quite shallow. That being said, let’s dig fast. Don’t want any looky-loos showin’ up.
( CLANGS )
BOAZ YOHALEM: Don. I hit something.
DON VERDEAN: Okay. Ho, ho, ho… everyone stop…. Carol, can you hand me
that brush from my kit?
CAROL: I can see a chunk of bone.
DON VERDEAN: Let’s not get carried away.
CAROL: Ooh! Is that the dome of a skull?!
DON VERDEAN: Phew. Certainly appears that way.
DON: Carol, would you do the honors?
CAROL: No, I’m afraid I’ll break it. You do it. All right, next time. Get that bag ready. Oh, my God. I don’t believe it. That’s… the skull of Goliath.
TOURIST: Hey! Hey! T-these guys just found the skull of Goliath!
DON VERDEAN: Earlier this month on a routine dig in Israel,
Miss Jensen, Mr. Yohalem and myself unearthed the remains of a very large human skull containing a river stone embedded in the frontonasal suture.
This discovery was made in Gath, the ancient birthplace of Goliath …
BOAZ YOHALEM: Tell them how we were chased by three al-Qaeda
guys on “motorcycles” …
DON VERDEAN: Uh… well, yes, as you already know word of our discovery spread quickly and not 10 minutes after we were on the road with the skull,
we were followed by three masked men on motorcycles… I immediately took evasive action and I knocked all three of them off the road…
What al-Qaeda would want with the skull of a Philistine, I have no idea.
BOAZ YOHALEM: They’re possibly cloning an army of giant al-Qaeda guys.
In “Revising the Hebrew Dictionary (DCH). 2. The Goliath Family” (October 2015), David J.A. Clines has some interesting things to say about a first-century inscription from Jericho.
Clines refers to an excavation carried out in the late 1970s, in which the bones of various members of the Goliath (גלית/ΓΟΛΙΆΘ) family were found in a first-century monumental tomb in the Jewish necropolis at Jericho. As Clines summarises, “the bones of family members were contained in 22 ossuaries (and elsewhere in the tomb) and there are some 32 inscriptions on 14 of the ossuaries.” The original report on the excavation of the family tomb is found in director Rachel Hachlili’s report, “The Goliath Family in Jericho: Funerary Inscriptions from a First-Century A.D. Jewish Monumental Tomb”, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 235 (1 July 1979): 31-66.
Why did a Jewish family take the name Goliath, the name of the famous Philistine foe? Hachlili’s suggestion was that it was a nickname, due to the great height of some of the family members. For example, the “Yehoezer Goliath” of inscription 9’s “Yehoezer son of Yehoezer Goliath” (right) – if he may be identified with Yehoezer bar Eleazar of inscription 12 – was 188.5cm (6 feet 2 inches) tall. Given the average height of Jewish males at this time of 5 feet 4 inches, Yehoezer bar Eleazar would have easily been nicknamed “Goliath” (who in the Greek Septuagint was 6 feet 9 inches).
Clines calls the explanation “intriguing rather than definitive”. Indeed.
Freewheelin’ travelling bard N.T. Wright has taken his heartfelt folk-singing to the masses. One of his most-loved tunes – judging by his many renditions – is Bob Dylan’s “When the Ship Comes In”.
We believe it is significant that Wright has chosen a song which ends with the notable line,
… And like Goliath, they’ll be conquered
Is Wright, then, a secret gigantologist? We suspect so.
May 7, 2012, the Rabbit Room
May 12, 2012, Hearts and Minds Books
And the version that Wright remembers:
New at the Box Office (December 11, 2015) is Don Verdean, a film satirizing the world of biblical archaeology. It’s a hard job trying to satirize the field of biblical archaeology – which regularly makes outrageous statements about finds which allegedly support this or that thing in the Bible which themselves seem to be satirical. And what Yosef Garfinkel pronounces about Gath or what Eilat Mazar says about the City of David is often sidesplittingly hilarious – even if unintentionally so.
Yet Don Verdean looks like an entertaining watch for those who see the funny side of biblical archaeology and evangelical culture:
The problem is, as The Atlantic comments, many of those who will get the main joke in Don Verdean have problems laughing at themselves:
Can American Christians take a joke? The question will be tested by the new film Don Verdean, a satire about a Christian archeologist who tours churches showcasing the “biblical” artifacts he has unearthed—from the shears used to cut Samson’s hair to the Goliath’s skull…
“Don Verdean probably never had a chance. It’s a satire set in American church culture, which means it will offend those Christians who don’t find that funny,” writes Alissa Wilkinson, chief film critic at Christianity Today. “And a lot of its humor relies on the audience’s insider knowledge of the obsessions and verbal tics of a subculture to which many of them don’t belong.”
The line between a giggle and a groan is often thin, and much religious comedy is just ridicule offered in bad taste. But when done right, religious humor in film, television, literature, and stand-up can be a gateway to important conversations and even instill listeners with humility. So Christians need to learn to laugh at themselves.
I’ll be keen to see it, anyway. But I do like to laugh at biblical archaeology.