My question relates to 1 Samuel 28:3-20 and is also related to this question, but I hope with sufficient difference as to be justified. I've heard/read interpretations of the text that say that Samuel doesn't really appear but that the episode is merely a hoax - either of human or demonic origin. To me a plain reading of the text as I've seen it in various translations doesn't admit this possibility - is there any underlying ambiguity in the original language that would justify this view? If not, how else could such a view be justified other than an a priori assumption of Naturalism?
Is dead Samuel's appearance to Saul 'real'?
According to the plain declaration of Scripture the medium did, in fact, see Samuel (1 Samuel 28:12). Furthermore, in the same verse we see that, after a fashion, the medium herself attests to the genuineness of Samuel's appearance by crying out with a loud voice. Apparently this was something she had not expected.
Beginning with the 15th verse, we see this "Samuel" speaking things to Saul, which, presumably, only the "genuine" Samuel would be privy to; those things being in complete agreement with his ministry as a prophet.
It would appear, in light of the reaction of the medium, that she has nothing to do with the "appearance" of Samuel, but, rather, his appearance was a work of God himself as a means of emphasizing God being against Saul, and having given the kingdom to David.
As an aside here, I have always viewed this as God's way of showing Saul that he (God) had made no mistake in removing the kingdom from Saul, because here is Saul seeking a medium for answers rather than trusting in God himself.