In Ghost, Demon, or Hallucination: Did Samuel Return from the Dead?, J. Carl Laney tackled what he called a challenging and puzzling interpretive question – Samuel’s appearing to Saul and the witch of En-dor. This is found in 1 Samuel 28:8-14. Many of my mentor-teachers avoided the idea that it really was Samuel as being too problematic. Yet, Laney gives five arguments in favor of the interpretation that this really was Samuel:
1. The medium was surprised, indicating that something happened that she was not expecting (28:12). 2. Saul identified the figure as Samuel and bowed down in respect for the prophet. It is unlikely that Saul, who knew Samuel so well, would have been deceived by an impersonation. 3. The message Samuel spoke was clearly from God (28:16-19). 4. The biblical text itself says that the figure was Samuel (28:12,15-16). It is clear that the author, under divine inspiration, intended the readers to understand that Samuel actually appeared to Saul. 5. A similar appearance of men from the dead took place when Moses and Elijah appeared at Christ’s transfiguration (Matt. 17:3).
Laney states that he believes “this is the most straight forward reading of the text.” I like straightforward reading of texts!
What do you think?