The Book of Samson

Written by David Maine
Review by Nancy J. Attwell

An angel announces to Samson’s barren mother that she will give birth to a son who will be remembered for his mighty deeds, but who must, in return, forever forswear both strong drink and the cutting of his hair. Thus favored, Samson grows up with the body of a titan, the brain of a gnat, and the uncanny ability to speak to animals and stones. He begins his life of violence by wreaking lawful but terrible vengeance on a neighbor. While still in his youth, he turns his own wedding into a bloodbath and then slaughters a thousand Philistines with a jawbone. Having proved his worth so valiantly, he becomes Israel’s judge. Samson’s infatuation with Delila, the Philistine woman who cajoles him into imparting the secret of his strength, propels Samson into the final cataclysmic event of his life.

Told in Samson’s boorish voice, this version of the biblical story amplifies the sex and gore of the original without adding any significant illumination. While Samson does a credible job of explaining the nature of his obsession with Delila, this one positive attribute of the story is not enough to give overall satisfaction. There are moments when a kernel of insight is planted, giving hope of bringing forth a theme worth thought and discussion. (Did his rigid and compassionless adherence to the law send him on his killing rampage? Is belief in the divine no more than human delusion?) But none of these seeds is nurtured. Each withers and dies away, and what is left is a disjointed, distasteful account of a self-righteous hooligan’s adventures. A morality tale without a moral, this is a most disappointing read.