A boy’s miraculous birth in Bethlehem was vastly unlike Jewish messianic expectations. Might God’s next act be unlike Christian expectations? What if, before Jesus returns, God chooses to send another miracle child . . . a girl?
In January 2021, archaeologist David Aaronson unearths a 3,000-year-old autobiographical psalm of David near the Dead Sea, inscribed across six tablets and dedicated to a mysterious woman the king calls his Kochav Hayam (Star of the Sea). The discovery lends credence to the claim of Aaronson’s former student, Stella Maris, who since 1988 has told of dancing with King David in a vision, he calling her his Kochav Hayam. When the new psalm tells of a hidden seventh tablet, the king’s dying prophecy awaiting discovery by his Kochav Hayam, Stella heads to Jerusalem to reunite with Aaronson, rekindling the attraction both resisted exploring thirty-three years earlier.
In Dancing with David, Siegfried Johnson leads readers on a Holy Land quest for the seventh tablet. Could Stella and David’s miracle child, proclaimed by believers to be the Daughter of David foretold by the seventh tablet, bring peace to the Holy Land? Dancing with David’s explosive ending affirms that though our enemy is powerful, hope endures.
Dancing With David stands apart from other novels about lost holy texts and divine revelations through its deep, immersive treatment of theology, its consideration of the implications of its discoveries, and its robust attention to matters of faith rather than the action scenes and thriller twists. Johnson imagines extensive classroom discussions, focuses on biblical numerology and the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, while occasionally offering revelations from Stella’s visions of King David. (“There is one biblical statement with which I must contend, that Goliath was dead when he hit the ground,” Johnson writes, before offering a vivid account of that giant’s bloody end.)
Readers looking for an archaeological adventure page-turner may find this thoughtful story slow going, especially as Johnson offers lengthy and discursive excerpts of Aaronson’s lectures that, among rich considerations of the Psalms throw curveballs like his thoughts on “The Hula Hoop Song” and John Lennon’s relationship with the number nine. These engaging lectures will appeal to open-minded believers, as will the slow-blooming romance between Stella and her former professor (“This is not another ‘Me Too’ story,” she assures us) and the implications of the big question at the novel’s heart: What if God sent a second divine child to Earth, this time a girl?
Takeaway: This thoughtful biblical what-if adventure imagines King David’s lost Psalm, a new divine birth, and the theology of its heroes.
Great for fans of: James Vanderkam and Peter Flint’s The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Geraldine Brooks’s The Secret Chord.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-