Hey Deb and Everyone,
I have been hard at work on my idea for a book- Deb, your advice was absolutely correct
I have been researching the development of the Heracles/Hercules myth and the theological development of the image of Samson, from Judge in the OT to Hero of Faith in the NT.
Usually, classicist and biblical scholars simply make a broad statement along the lines of either Samson is an adaption of the Greek god Heracles or that the Heracles myth absorbed the Samson account.
It is much more than that!!!!!!
My working hypothesis, which is getting substantiated with my research, is;
An early Heracles tradition cycle was brought to Canaan/Israel by the Philistines [archaeology supports this]. Upon encountering the Samson accounts, Heracles was elevated to mythic proportions, as the Philistines would not let this Danite shepherd be greater than their hero. Therefore, Samson was the original antecedent or generator of the Heracles myth. During the Hellenistic period, the worship of the now-god Heracles did absorb many aspects of "Samson" which relegated Samson to theological obscurity [he is not even mentioned in Sirach, for example]. However, the transformation of Heracles to Hercules, under Rome, which made the figure much less formidable provided the model for the NT writer of "Hebrews" to "elevate" Samson into a "Hero of Faith" (Heb. 11:32).
Deb, you are so right - that my anxiety was a good thing as this is a perspective never taken. My working title is Samson and Hercules; Heroic Syncretism. Or, Samson and Hercules; the syncretism of Strength.
Thanks to all