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AUGUSTINE QUOTE
Although the arrangement of the Psalms, which seems to me to contain the secret of a mighty mystery, hath not yet been revealed unto me, yet, by the fact that they in all amount to one hundred and fifty, they suggest somewhat even to us, who have not as yet pierced with the eye of our mind the depth of their entire arrangement, whereon we may without being over-bold, so far as God giveth, be able to speak.
Augustine of Hippo, “Expositions on the Book of Psalms,” in Saint Augustin: Expositions on the Book of Psalms, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 8, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), 681.
Schaff, Philip, ed. Saint Augustin: Expositions on the Book of Psalms. Vol. 8. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series. New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888.
Barshinger, David P. Jonathan Edwards and the Psalms: A Redemptive-Historical Vision of Scripture. Oxford University Press;Oxford, NY. 2014.
Jonathan Edwards and the Psalms
10
“Edwards held that the book of Psalms should be appropriated “as the language of Christ and the Christian Church,” for indeed it “was made use in the public worship in Christian assemblies, from the beginning of the Christian church.”
26
Edwards took a redemptive-historical approach to the Psalms. Edwards used literal, typological, Christological, and other “methods” of interpretation, none of these methods orients all the others to his interpretive purpose or captures what he was actually doing in his work on the Psalms. Edwards rather used various methods as tools that were guided by his broad redemptive-historical understanding of the Psalms.
Snearly, Michael K. The Return of the King: Messianic Expectation in Book V of the Psalter. New York, NY: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2016.
1
The editorial-critical method—draws from recent insights in the field of poetics and text-linguistics in order to establish a linguistically based foundation for reading the Psalter as a unified text. The methodology can best be described as an eclectic method that emphasizes parallel features, with special focus on key-word links….
This method advances editorial criticism by not only discerning links within group but also showing that those links do not occur with the same frequency outside the group. The method used to drive at these conclusions presupposes that parallelism extends beyond the literary level of the poem to include larger sections of text.
3
…there is a story line in the book.
4
Essentially, the Psalter teaches that the a heavenly king who has appointed an earthly vice-regent to establish his kingdom in a world of unruly kings.
11
Roland Murphy is unconvinced that the Psalter can be read as a book with a literary context. (MN look at the Shape and Shaping article he has: 23
He contends that even if an association between two psalms can be determined on literary grounds, the benefits for interpreter are negligible.
John Goldingay rejects the notion that the Psalter is a “coherent literary whole” and thus it “does not have a structure that helps us get a handle on its contents, as the structure of Genesis or Isaiahhelps us grasp the whole and the parts.” (Psalms vol 1. 36.)
Goldingay instead believes that form criticism is a more fruitful discipline because it sets the psalms in their most natural context—the way in which they portray interaction with God.
Norman Whybray concludes that, “There is no evidence that there was a systematic and purposeful redaction of the whole Psalter in any of the suggested ways.” (Whybry “Reading the Psalms as a Book” 119
12
MKS—Whybry expects too much by demanding proof of textual manipulation.
Responding to Tremper Longmann’s question about “indicators built into the text” MKS states “there is not even punctuation in the earliest manuscripts, so why would we assume that there would be textual indicators of groupings. Furthermore, the desire for explicit redactional manipulation of the texts themselves should be tempered by the obscure terms in the superscriptions, why would we expect the to manipulate the texts in other ways?” (Footnote 17 pp 12-13)
13
David Mitchell’s work reveals a lengthy tradition—both Jewish and Christian—of reading the Psalms as a book (Mitchell 15-65)
DM quote “Thus a historical perspective at the end of the twentieth century seems to suggests that western scholarship from c. 1820-1970 is, in some respects, a hiatus of Psalm interpretation, during which scholarly opinion diverged sharply from what must be considered, historically speaking, the dominant views [those that propound a purposeful arrangement].” 65
Whybry even acknowledges that the Psalter has been read this way “for many centuries” 124.
13-14
Erhard Gerstenberger’s “Der Psalter als Buch und als Sammlung” is the most the most thoroughgoing critique of editorial criticism.
“whoever one-sidedly emphasizes the canonical final form of the biblical writings devalues, more or less, the historical origins of our faith tradition. He/She will be inclined to set aside the historicalness of the Word of God in favor of the abiding substance and invariable authority of the unique and ultimately fixed revelation.” 3 (in Neue Wege der Psalmenforschung. ed. Klaus Seybold and Erich Zenger, HBS 1. Freiburg: Herder, 1994.
14
Gerstenberger contends that Words must be interpreted in their historical context and, due o their minimizing of the historical background, editorial critics neglect this important component of interpretation.
MKS response—G himself “divorces faith from history when he creates the false dichotomy that the study of an ancient text is not a historical endeavor—as if the only proper form of historical inquiry is to research the history that stands behind the text.”
“Interpretation is inherently historical because any form of a text is a historical artifact, including the final form. Thus it must be interpreted as such, with special care given to defining words and understanding the nuances of syntax properly—that is, in their historical context. And the historical context of a text is other contemporary literary texts. So, while editorial critics tend to minimize the historical background of the text, this does not mean that they eschew history outright because, presumably, they are defining the words and interpreting the syntax of the text within its historical context… even if we can say nothing about the historical background of the psalms for the process of the Psalter’s redaction, we have a text. And editorial critics seek to answer the question, “What can be said about that text?”
15
Gerstenberger questions whether a compilation of individual texts can be read as a unified text. He states “the Psalter is possibly the book of the Old Testament that most intensely rejects an integral reading.” While Gerstenberger grants that connections within the Psalms are indisputable he does not grant that these connections reveal intentionality. (p 5)
16
Gerstenberger’s final conclusions: Psalms is not a “book,” the purpose of the final redaction will remain unknown because the situation of writing is unknown, Psalms should be interpreted individually, no evidence from ANE of organization of individual poems or songs being organized into a book, and finally there is worry that grand statements of purpose will overshadow what individual psalms contribute to the Psalter. IE editorial criticism says more about the critic than the text.
17
MKS response: Ideally editorial criticism will balance the unique contribution of the individual psalm with the way in which it fits into the fabric of the whole.
Editorial criticism makes grand statements about the text that are backed up with evidence from the text. A risk worth taking.
18
MKS-Going forward 1. Editorial critics must avoid the tendency to overreach (Wilson and deClaissé-Walford are guilty of this). Editorial critics must instead be committed to a thorough analysis of the pertinent data—the text intself—in order to make substantive contributions to biblical studies. 2. On the opposite end Editorial critics need to learn how to apply exacting methodological controls to larger sections of the text in order to make headway in the task of explaining the editorial significance of the book as a whole (David Howard’s The Structure of is an example).
19
3 Finally, evidence must be weighed not counted. Too often frivolous links are accumulated that either overshadow the more plausible evidence or, worse, stand in the place of genuine evidence. (Robert Cole is guilty of former in ) Editorial critics risk the possibility of losing their audience because their evidence that supports their work presses the limits of credulity.
24
(see J Grants article in DOTWPW 3 key observations 150-151)
“of of The Book of Psalms is a book that was incorporated into the canon of the Hebrew Bible. It is not an appendix to the Canon; it does not come with special instructions on how it should be used in public worship. It is a part of a canon of books that was meant to be read as a book. (see J. Grant’s quote from 149)
“the catalyst for all the schools of Psalms’ scholarship is a quest for contexts. In what context should the individual psalms be interpreted?”
25
Helpful quote MKS “I am not arguing that editorial criticism is the way to read the Psalter, but a way.”
We can argue about which perspective of Psalms’ interpretation is more fruitful without having to argue that other schools are fruitless.
27
“The techniques that Wilson uses to structure the Psalter are more related to the binding of the whole, and not necessarily the phonological and lexical links between neighboring psalms.”
D. Howard’s 1986 dissertation clearly delineated a methodology for observing links between psalms, recognizing the linguistic and thematic links between smaller units of psalms. Key-word links, thematic connections, and structure/genre similarities. (book pg 100)
29
Robert Cole’s approach “Examine parallelism and repetition from the level of individual cola (where abundant phonetic or sound repetition was observed), to bicola (or occasional tricola), verse paragraphs, strophes, complete psalms, and finally the stretch of psalms from 73-89 known as Book III.”
MKS “In practice, Cole’s observations depend heavily on the word links and syntactical similarities.”
33
Jerome Creach (MKS) “contributes to the field of editorial criticism by demonstrating that it is not simply key-word links among psalms that exhibits cohesion, it is also key-word placement. Furthermore, if one word can be interpreted as being dominant, attention should be given to its placement in the section under consideration.”
39
"Text-linguistics and poetics offer promising principles for recognizing that the Psalter is a unified text and that five criteria distinguish themselves as the soundest, most controlled ways of demonstrating links among neighboring passages. Those five criteria are: key-word links; distant parallelism; common superscriptions; common theme; structural parallels."
45
"A text is a written communication that is both cohesive and coherent. Some of the key elements in discerning cohesion and coherence are structure, development, repetition, and related theme. Consequently, if the Psalter displays elements of cohesion (that is repetition and related theme) and coherence (that is, discernible structure and development), then it would meet the text-linguistic requirements for being called a text."
49
Robert Cole (The Shape of the Message of Book III, p 10) states that "It has become clear in recent years that the phenomenon of parallelism and repetition in the Psalter must be extended beyond that of individual poems to the surrounding psalms and finally the entire collection. The ordering and shaping of the collection casts the individual psalms in a new light, even beyond that discerned through rhetorical criticism. Such a focus moves from what the individual poem expresses to a meaning implied by the final compilation, the latter becoming a single "text." Consequently, the study of the final shape of the Psalter is simply a recognition that parallelism is not restricted to the individual poem."
MKS--"Parallelism binds texts; the literary unity of the Psalter can be discerned by the parallels that exist within it."
85
The Psalter displays characteristics of narratively an should be interpreted as a multiple-focus narrative. Although it is not narrative like Samuel or Kings, the Psalter as a whole should be read with an overarching narrative framework in view. The Psalter has a beginning, middle, and end, and there is one dominant character (the royal/Davidic figure) who acts. Therefore, the Psalter should be read with sensitivity toward the story line and literary context of the entire book.
Gordon Wenham Psalms as Torah
“I have called it Psalms as Torah out of my conviction that the psalms were and are vehicles not only of worship but also of instruction, which is the fundamental meaning of Torah, otherwise rendered “law.” From the very first psalm, the Psalter presents itself as a second Torah, divided into five books like the Pentateuch, and it invites its readers to meditate on them day and night, just as Joshua was told to meditate on the law of Moses (; ).”
Excerpt From: Gordon J. Wenham. “Psalms as Torah.” Baker Publishing Group.
“The mid-twentieth century was dominated by the approach of form criticism. This concluded that the psalms were composed for use in worship, many of them in the preexilic temple. The end of the century saw another turn in scholarship. Though not abandoning form-critical insights, scholarship has turned to examining the final form of the Psalter. It is argued by many that the Psalter is not a collection of random songs put together in no particular order, but rather a deliberately arranged anthology whose sequence is significant and indicative of the editors’ concerns. Thus, this canonical approach has far-reaching implications for the interpretation of the psalms. It is particularly germane to a consideration of the impact of the psalms, for very often they are read and prayed in canonical sequence. In examining the ethics of the psalms, I will employ a version of canonical criticism.”
Excerpt From: Gordon J. Wenham. “Psalms as Torah.” Baker Publishing Group
“The books of Samuel are framed by two psalms, the song of Hannah () and David’s song of deliverance () (the first is not found in the Psalter, but the second is virtually the same as ). There are a number of verbal links between the two songs, which suggests that their location in the books of Samuel is deliberate.[16]”
Excerpt From: Gordon J. Wenham. “Psalms as Torah.” Baker Publishing Group.
“It is sufficient to recognize that the books of Chronicles and the titles of the psalms point to a conviction that the psalms were used from earliest times in Jerusalem’s public worship.”
“I will argue later that the present shape of the Psalter suggests that it was a book designed to be memorized. It is therefore intriguing that commentators have noticed close parallels between some of the psalms and the prayers in Nehemiah. is Nehemiah’s prayer against Sanballat and his allies. “The whole prayer is reminiscent of such Psalms as 44, 74 and 79.”[26]”
Jesus's view of Davidic authorship: “For many centuries the titles were taken as definitive for the origin of the psalms. For example, both Jesus and the scribes took it for granted that David was the author of . In Jesus says,
David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,
“The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.”
“Indeed, it was often assumed that the untitled psalms were also by David. The Talmud suggests that David not only composed many of the psalms but also was responsible for the whole collection. “David wrote the book of Psalms including in it the work of the elders, namely, Adam, Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, Heman, Yeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korah” (Baba Batra 14b).
In other words, David collected the psalms written by these ten elders as well as his own compositions. “According to this view therefore, there were no psalms composed after the time of David. All of the psalms were written either by the ten elders, or by David himself.”[57]” Edward J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (London: Tyndale, 1960), 313.
“John Calvin recognized that the Psalter as a whole must have been created later; he suggested that Ezra might have compiled the Psalter in its present form.[58] However, in the next couple of centuries this possibility was widely ignored; it was simply assumed that the Psalter was Davidic.”
Sum of form criticism
“The nineteenth century saw a strong movement to question traditional assumptions about the authorship of biblical books, and the Psalter was not exempt. Not only was the probability of postexilic editing of the book widely accepted but also the authenticity of the titles was questioned. It was argued that the title “Of David” simply represented the earlier collection from which the psalm came, not authorship. S. R. Driver, for example, claimed on the one hand that some of the Davidic psalms were not fresh or original enough “for the founder of Hebrew Psalmody,”[59] and on the other hand that others “express an intensity of devotion, a depth of spiritual insight, and a maturity of theological reflection, beyond what we should expect from David or David’s age.”[60] A century after Driver we can easily spot the romantic view of progress that underlies his critical judgments, so that it is unnecessary to debate them. However, by the end of the nineteenth century there was a wide scholarly consensus that the bulk of the psalms were composed after the exile and edited in the Maccabean period.[61] “It was also agreed that the psalms were written for use in the second temple and the synagogues when they developed. C. A. Briggs, for example, states, “The Psalms were collected for the purpose of public worship in the synagogues and in the temple, some being appropriate for the latter, but the most of them evidently more suitable for the former.”[62]”
“Gunkel developed his ideas further. He said that “the scholar should strive to eavesdrop on the inbuilt natural arrangement of this type of poetry.”[64] To this end, he distinguished a number of different Gattungen (forms), such as hymns, communal and individual laments, pilgrimage psalms, and wisdom psalms. He insisted on strict criteria being met in the classification of psalms. For example, in order to fit a particular Gattung, a psalm as a whole must come from a particular cultic occasion. Through his insistence on discovering the occasion for a psalm in Israel’s worship and his focus on the religious sentiments of the psalms, Gunkel came to the conclusion that many of them fit the setting of the preexilic rather than the postexilic temple. This was a major change from the late nineteenth-century critical consensus. It also emphasizes the character of the psalms as prayers.”
“Mowinckel agrees with the view that the psalms were used in the postexilic temple; however, he does not think that most of them were composed with that end in view, but rather that they were integral to worship in the first temple”
“Gunkel and Mowinckel transformed psalm studies. It is not that everybody accepted Mowinckel’s ideas about the enthronement festival or agreed upon the Gattung of every psalm,[68] but that the form-critical classification of the psalms became fundamental, and the origin of most of them in the temple liturgy was very widely accepted”
Mowinckel “Not only were the psalms model prayers but also, for the scribal editors of the Psalter, they instructed the righteous on how to “become wise and lead a godly life.”[74] Although this was much more important to the scribes than the use of the psalms in public worship, the creation of a complete Psalter “resulted in making the collection the book of psalms for the temple service.”[75] This is shown by the way even wisdom psalms such as and have liturgical instructions in their titles.”
“The Psalter contains several groups of psalms with the title “A Psalm of David.” The first of these, the first Davidic psalter, consists of . is headed “A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.” But this is not the first time David’s voice is heard in the Psalter; he is clearly the main speaker in , where he introduces himself as the Lord’s anointed. But the keyword linkages between each psalm and the next, as well as the Davidic titles, create the impression that the prayer continues through the psalms without interruption, “putting the whole collection under the patronage of David.”[82]”
“Thus, Jean-Marie Auwers comments,
The “historical” titles of the Psalter present . . . a David who is not yet in power, whose tears and wanderings are counted in God’s great book. This David matches the image of his impoverished people and thus becomes a model for Israel in her humiliation and wandering. The historical titles thus give the reader of the psalms, as a type and model, a particular David, full of humility, trust in Yahweh, and penitence.
Paradoxically, the attribution of the Psalter to David has had the effect of easing the appropriation of the psalms by every pious Israelite, in so far as the son of Jesse has been presented as the model with which everyone ought to identify.[83]”
“Zenger set out some principles for a canonical reading of the psalms in an essay published in 1991:[90]
Canonical exegesis pays attention to the connections between one psalm and its neighbors. Canonical exegesis pays attention to the position of a psalm within its redactional unit. Canonical exegesis sees the titles of the psalms as an interpretative horizon. Canonical exegesis takes into consideration the connections and repetitions of psalms within the collection.”
“Erich Zenger, “Was wird anders bei kanonischer Psalmenauslegung?” in Ein Gott, eine Offenbarung: Beiträge zur biblischen Exegese, Theologie und Spiritualität, ed. Friedrich V. Reiterer (Würzburg: Echter, 1991), 397–413.”
“Modern canonical criticism of the psalms thus builds on the insights of earlier form-critical studies of the psalms. In general, there is not a great gulf between Vesco’s understanding of the growth of the Psalter and Mowinckel’s view. But whereas Mowinckel focused on interpreting each psalm in its original Sitz im Leben and ignored its setting in the present Psalter, Vesco’s priorities are the reverse: he insists on using the present sequence of the psalms as a tool for unpacking their meaning for the Psalter’s compilers.”
“In this chapter I want to refine the canonical critics’ approach by arguing that the Psalter is a sacred text that is intended to be memorized”
Hmmm...
“But there is no doubt that in its present final form the Psalter appears to be a collection of psalms drawn from earlier collections; in other words, it is an anthology.” “religious anthologies are meant to be memorized”
“But when we look at the psalms, we see at least three main features that must have helped somewhat in their memorization: (1) the poetic form of the psalms, (2) musical accompaniment, and (3) thematic macrostructures.”
“Acrostics, whereby each line (), each verse (), or every eight verses () begin with the next letter in the alphabet, are universally recognized as aids to memorization. Other devices such as alliteration, assonance, chiasmus, inclusion, resumptive repetition, staircase parallelism, and refrains support attempts to memorize the psalms.”
“As we have already observed, a memorized text has a peculiarly character-forming effect on the memorizer. The text becomes part of his character; he lives in it and lives it out.”
“But there is one more aspect of the psalms that has made them even more influential: their titles show us that they were designed to be sung, not merely recited.
The importance of music in worship and also in secular life is obvious, though it is more rarely commented on. Music aids memorization, of course, but it does more. It moves the emotions and captures the will and imagination of the singers, so that they mean the words they sing.”
“Thus, set to music and sung communally, the psalms have even more power than when they are merely recited. But even mere recitation, whether or not that involves memorization, is, I have argued, a more powerful instructor than listening to stories, commands, or wisdom sayings. Listening is passive—indeed, the listener can ignore the message—but recitation and, especially, singing are activities that involve the whole person and cannot be honestly undertaken without real commitment to what is being said or sung.”
“When you pray a psalm, you are describing what actions you will take and what you will avoid. It is more like taking an oath or making a vow. Perhaps this is what is hinting at: “I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.”[137]”
The Psalter Reclaimed: Gordon a Wenham
"But the Psalter’s present arrangement suggests that when the psalms were collected together as a book, it may well be that a secondary use for them developed, namely, as a resource for private meditation and devotion. I want to suggest that the Psalter is a deliberately organized anthology designed for memorization."
Chapter three
The twentieth century saw two revolutions in approaches to reading the Psalms. At the beginning of the century scholarship generally regarded the Psalms as poems of personal devotion that were taken over for use in meditation or worship. Though many psalms had titles implying that they had been written by David or other luminaries, such as Asaph, most scholars around 1900 placed little store by these ascriptions, but supposed most of the psalms had been composed much later, some time between the exile and the Maccabean era.
The first revolution in twentieth-century Psalm study was introduced by Hermann Gunkel, Die Psalmen (1926), and was carried through by Sigmund Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel’s Worship (1962). Their method of form criticism is well known and set out in the standard textbooks. It involves classifying the psalms into different types—hymns, laments, wisdom psalms, and so on—and then suggesting possible Sitze im Leben for the different categories. These settings usually turned out to involve worship in the pre-exilic temple, though it was recognized that some psalms were composed in later times.
Both form critics and their immediate predecessors tended to view the Psalms as historical artifacts that shed light on their authors or the circumstances of their composition or their subsequent use.
Commentaries on the Psalms thus tended to have a history-of-religions perspective rather than a theological focus.
However, though the arrangement of the Psalter has been discussed intensively only in the last two decades, earlier writers did make occasional observations on the topic. For example Rabbi Abbahu and Eusebius noted that it was association of ideas that linked the psalms, not chronology. Basil and Jerome noted that seemed to serve as a title or introduction to the whole Psalter.4
In his nineteenth-century commentary on the Psalms, Franz Delitzsch noted how consecutive psalms were linked together by key words. At the end of the century Benno Jacob, in an article on the sequence of the psalms (1898), noted some structural features of the Psalter, such as blessings at the beginning and end of books,5 the placing of acrostic psalms,6 and the gathering of prayers of the individual at the end of books.7 But Delitzsch and Jacob were voices crying in the wilderness.
There is I think no doubt that this approach has led to a deeper and richer theological reading of the Psalms, one that is especially congenial to the Christian interpreter. The earlier historically orientated and form-critical readings seem threadbare by comparison.
********
I tend to think three canonical contexts are more important than others.
First, there is the canonical context of the whole Psalter. If, as I think has been demonstrated, the psalms have been arranged thematically, by title, and by key words to form a deliberate sequence, it is imperative to read one psalm in the context of the whole collection and, in particular, in relationship to its near neighbors.
The second important context is reading the Psalms in the context of the Jewish canon, the Hebrew Bible. The various psalms themselves invite this by their frequent reference to historical figures and episodes from the past.
Third, of course, the Psalms need to be read in the context of the Christian canon of the Old and New Testaments. The Psalms are the book of the Old Testament most quoted in the New: it appears that the early Christians inhabited the thought world of the Psalms, so that any biblical theology that would be Christian must read the Psalms in this context.53
To quote Brevard Childs: The canonical shape of the Psalter assured the future generations of Israelites that this book spoke a word of God to each of them in their need. It was not only a record of the past, but a living voice speaking to the present human suffering. By taking seriously the canonical shape the reader is given an invaluable resource for the care of souls, as the synagogue and church have always understood the Psalter to be.60
Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (London: SCM, 1979), 523.
Derek Kidner, : An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 15, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 19–20.
The picture that emerges is a mixture of order and informality of arrangement, which invites but also defeats the attempt to account for every detail of its final form. There is some chronological progression, with David most in evidence in the first half, and a clear allusion to the captivity towards the close of Book V (). But David reappears in the next psalm (138), and by contrast, the fall of Jerusalem has been lamented as far back as . Progress of theological or cultic thought is no easier to demonstrate. While there has been no lack of theories, which tend to reflect the thought-forms of successive ages (e.g. Gregory of Nyssa saw in the five books five steps to moral perfection, somewhat as Athanasius interpreted the fifteen Psalms of Ascent; in a different vein Delitzsch found a series of catchwords linking one psalm to the next throughout the 150), any scheme which discovers a logical necessity in the position of every psalm probably throws more light on the subtlety of its proponent than on the pattern of the Psalter. Its structure is perhaps best compared with that of a cathedral built and perfected over a matter of centuries, in a harmonious variety of styles, rather than a palace displaying the formal symmetry of a single and all-embracing plan.
Derek Kidner, : An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 15, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 19–20.
Tremper Longman III, How to Read the Psalms (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 12.
Thus, the Psalms are a kind of literary sanctuary in the Scripture. The place where God meets his people in a special way, where his people may address him with their praise and lament. In the same way that the sanctuaries of the Old Testament, primarily the tabernacle and the temple, were considered to be at the physical center of the people of God, so too is the book of Psalms in the middle of the Bible.
The Psalms appeal to the whole person; they demand a total response. The Psalms inform our intellect, arouse our emotions, direct our wills and stimulate our imaginations. When we read the Psalms with faith, we come away changed and not simply informed.
Tremper Longman III, How to Read the Psalms (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 13.
As we probe the Psalms together, our ultimate purpose is not to increase our knowledge of ancient customs and poetic forms; we are studying to know God better through his Word.
Tremper Longman III, How to Read the Psalms (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 15.
He says this but not that there can be order
The psalms are not completely isolated from one another but have many features in common. There is no such thing as a completely unique psalm!
Tremper Longman III, How to Read the Psalms (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 35.
In spite of this earlier critical consensus, the biblical witness   p 39  to David’s role in the development of worshipful song-singing is so strong that it is hard today to imagine why so many disputed it. When David is introduced in and 17, he appears as a young man with two special gifts which will later characterize his leadership. The second story tells how God used the boy David to defeat a superior enemy, Goliath. The first story tells how the youth used unusual musical gifts to soothe Saul’s tormented mind. This story anticipates the one who later calls himself “Israel’s singer of songs” ().
Tremper Longman III, How to Read the Psalms (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 38–39.
But as we reflect on the overall structure of the Psalter, we don’t see any immediately apparent order in subject matter or date.
Tremper Longman III, How to Read the Psalms (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 43.
The key is to see the Psalter as a living, open book during the whole Old Testament period. The Psalter was in constant use individually and corporately from its very beginning. In addition, new psalms were constantly added. The additions, though, were not included systematically into the collection (as far as we can tell from the internal evidence). For instance, while some obviously late psalms, like and 137, are toward the end, they are not at the very end.
No overall structure can be discerned, but we can recognize some important groupings and movements within the book of Psalms.
Tremper Longman III, How to Read the Psalms (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 43.
In Hebrew, the book of Psalms is entitled tehillim, which (when translated) means “songs of praise.” As we look at the psalms, though, the laments substantially outnumber the songs of praise. In what sense then is this book characterized as tehillim?
A close examination of the Psalter suggests an answer. A decided shift takes place as we move from the beginning of the book to its end. As we move toward the end, praise overtakes lament until at the very end of the book we have a virtual fireworks of praise.
Tremper Longman III, How to Read the Psalms (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 45.
Thus, while no overall structure can be discerned, there are signs that psalms were intentionally placed, particularly at the opening and close of the book.
Tremper Longman III, How to Read the Psalms (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 45.
We can’t read the Psalms without an emotional response. As the psalmists cry out in joy or grief, they stir us as we identify similar emotions in ourselves.
John Calvin likened the psalms to a mirror:
There is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.2
In other words, we learn not only about God as we read the Psalms, we learn about ourselves as well. For many of us this   p 77  can be a frightening prospect.
Tremper Longman III, How to Read the Psalms (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 76–77.
Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, : A Commentary on , ed. Klaus Baltzer, trans. Linda M. Maloney, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), xi.
we do not regard the Psalter, as some other commentators have, as nothing but a “storage cabinet” for individual psalms, but rather as a successively developed, but nevertheless compositionally structured entity whose form gives an additional dimension of meaning to each individual psalm,
The multiplicity of the linguistic images and forms that appear in the individual psalms reflects the multiplicity of life situations for which these texts were created. The Psalms have rightly been called “theo–poetry,” for they are not about some partial aspect of life, but about God as the foundation and meaning of all life. Therefore the Jewish tradition has given this book the title ספר תהלים, “the book of praises.” This title may surprise us if we consider that most of these psalms are prayers of lament and petition. Nevertheless, even the sharpest accusation against God is itself divine praise, because it clings fast to God and continues to seek God (even while accusing), at a time when everything seems to speak against God.
Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, : A Commentary on , ed. Klaus Baltzer, trans. Linda M. Maloney, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), 1.
Even the arrangement of the 150 psalms in the book of Psalms moves from lament to praise, to the extent that (although this is a broad generalization) lament dominates up to , and then praise has the upper hand through . In any case the book of Psalms ends in with a grand hymnic finale.
Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, : A Commentary on , ed. Klaus Baltzer, trans. Linda M. Maloney, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), 1.
The book of Psalms did not originate as a disorderly archive of individual texts or as an anthology organized in some fashion or other. Rather, it is a collection of partial groupings or parts of a psalter, each of which has its own history of development. The various collectors and redactors placed the individual psalms in order according to certain ideas; at times they edited the texts they had put together, and at times they created their own psalms in order to sharpen and deepen the theological profile of the partial psalters they had composed. The several partial psalters put together at different times from individual psalms were not collected into the book of Psalms as we now have it in a single action, but in a many–layered process (analogous to the origins of the Pentateuch)
Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, : A Commentary on , ed. Klaus Baltzer, trans. Linda M. Maloney, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), 1.
The various subgroups of psalms were collected by the redactors not in an unplanned fashion, but rather according to a definite plan revealing liturgically and/or theologically relevant compositional arcs.
Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, : A Commentary on , ed. Klaus Baltzer, trans. Linda M. Maloney, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), 2.
Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, : A Commentary on , ed. Klaus Baltzer, trans. Linda M. Maloney, Hermeneia—A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011), xiii.
That is, the Psalms are interpreted both as individual texts complete in themselves and as textual components of groups of psalms or parts of psalters or of the Psalter as a whole.
J. Clinton McCann, ed., The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 7.
As the essays in this volume indicate, there is growing interest among scholars in attempting to understand the book of Psalms not only as a collection of liturgical materials from ancient Israel and Judah but also as a coherent literary whole. Increasingly scholars are discerning and documenting evidence of editorial activity within the Psalter. The purposeful placement of psalms within the collection seems to have given the final form of the whole Psalter a function and message greater than the sum of its parts.
Gerald H. Wilson, “Understanding the Purposeful Arrangement of Psalms in the Psalter: Pitfalls and Promise,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 42.
In the last decade renewed interest in the unity of the Psalter has uncovered evidence of the purposeful, editorial arrangement of the psalms.1 The results of this process can be seen in the well known five-book structure of the Psalter as well as other evidence of theological and literary shaping of the materials.2
What remains unclear is just how far this editorial process of ordering observed in the larger structures of the Psalter extends to the consecutive arrangement of the individual psalms themselves.
1 G.H. Wilson, The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter (SBLDS, 76; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1985).
2 G.H. Wilson, ‘Evidence of Editorial Divisions in the Hebrew Psalter’, VT 34 (1984), pp. 337–52.
“…I am convinced that such an investigation is possible, valuable, and, if pursued with appropriate caution, can be as fruitful as the past century of Psalms research.”
Gerald H. Wilson, “Understanding the Purposeful Arrangement of Psalms in the Psalter: Pitfalls and Promise,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 43.
First, too many treatments of arrangement begin by setting forth an hypothesis to guide the investigation. Such working hypotheses, as we have seen, often distort the interpreter’s vision and prevent the true nature of the material from coining into focus. In my opinion, the only valid and cautious hypothesis with which to begin is that the present arrangement is the result of purposeful editorial activity, and that its purpose can be discerned by careful and exhaustive analysis of the linguistic and thematic relationships between individual psalms and groups of psalms.
Gerald H. Wilson, “Understanding the Purposeful Arrangement of Psalms in the Psalter: Pitfalls and Promise,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 48.
I am convinced that any progress in understanding the purposeful arrangement of the psalms in the Psalter must begin, as in these last two studies, with a detailed and careful analysis of the linguistic, literary and thematic linkages that can be discerned among the psalms.
Gerald H. Wilson, “Understanding the Purposeful Arrangement of Psalms in the Psalter: Pitfalls and Promise,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 50.
****Intro quote*****
We now stand on the borders of the promised land. Like Moses’ spies, we need to take care to learn the lay of the land and to acquire an intimate knowledge of its inhabitants, lest we be misled by our own preconceived notions to see giants where there are none and lest we, because of our misconceptions, fail to take the land.
Gerald H. Wilson, “Understanding the Purposeful Arrangement of Psalms in the Psalter: Pitfalls and Promise,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 51.
David M. Howard Jr, “Editorial Activity in the Psalter: A State-of-the-Field Survey,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 52–53.
Early interest in the Psalms in Christian circles was dominated for the most part by allegorical or messianic concerns, prior to the rise of modern critical scholarship.1 With the rise of critical scholarship in the nineteenth century, interest shifted to the historical backgrounds of the biblical materials, including radical reconstruction of the biblical text.1
Modern Psalms study was radically reshaped by the well-known work of H. Gunkel.2 Now the attention was focused on the forms (that is, genres) of individual psalms, and attention was paid to the Sitz im Leben that gave rise to each form.
2 H. Gunkel, Die Psalmen (Göttinger Handkommentar zum Alten Testament; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 4th edn, 1926); Einleitung in Die Psalmen (ed. J. Begrich; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2nd edn, 1933).
Already in the nineteenth century, Franz Delitzsch had paid considerable attention to the connections between consecutive psalms.2 He saw links of thoughts or ideas between consecutive psalms, and saw these running topically throughout the Psalter.3 He stated that,
“This phenomenon, that psalms with similar prominent thoughts, or even with only markedly similar passages, especially at the beginning and the end, are thus strung together, may be observed throughout the whole collection.4 3 Franz Delitzsch , Biblical Commentary on the Psalms [trans. F. Bolton; 3 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1881, repr. 1975], I, p 21.
David M. Howard Jr, “Editorial Activity in the Psalter: A State-of-the-Field Survey,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 55.
The words of people to God had now become identified with God’s word to God’s people:
Israel reflects on the psalms, not merely to find an illustration of how godly men prayed to God in the past, but to learn the ‘way of righteousness’ which comes from obeying the divine law and is now communicated through the prayers of Israel.2
2 Childs, Introduction, pp. 513–14.
David M. Howard Jr, “Editorial Activity in the Psalter: A State-of-the-Field Survey,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 59.
“The psalms, originally the words of people to God, now became the words of God to people, suitable for study and meditation, by virtue of the ‘canonical’ outlook, searched for and found in them by the scribes responsible for the final editing. In the end, the idea of the Psalter as being God’s word (and not humanity’s) ‘had as much significance for the reception [as canonical] of the already existing book in the developing canon as did its use in the cult’.4”
4 Reindl, ‘Weisheitliche Bearbeitung’, p. 356 (translation mine).
David M. Howard Jr, “Editorial Activity in the Psalter: A State-of-the-Field Survey,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 61.
Gerald H. Wilson, “Shaping the Psalter: A Consideration of Editorial Linkage in the Book of Psalms,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 72.
It has become popular in many circles to refer to the Psalter as a ‘hymnbook’—a collection of individual compositions created for performance in the worship of ancient Israel.
First, the hymnbook analogy ignores the fact that, in the final analysis, the canonical Psalter has become a book to be read and meditated upon (), rather than music to be sung. Secondly, the designation evidences our tendency over the last 150 years of Psalms study to focus almost exclusively on individual psalms to the neglect of the whole ensemble.
Gerald H. Wilson, “Shaping the Psalter: A Consideration of Editorial Linkage in the Book of Psalms,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 72.
DISAGREE—So, the Qumran evidence confirms two distinct segments of the Psalter and suggests further that Books I–III were already fixed while Books IV–V were still in a state of flux.
Gerald H. Wilson, “Shaping the Psalter: A Consideration of Editorial Linkage in the Book of Psalms,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 73–74.
In an interesting (and perhaps related) movement noted by many,1 the Psalter begins with an emphasis on private, individual lamentation, but concludes with public, communal proclamation of praise. It is between these two poles of human experience and access to God that the continuing life of the faithful is to be lived out.
1 N.K. Gottwald, The Hebrew Bible: A Socio-literary Introduction (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), p. 535; K. Seybold, Introducing the Psalms (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1990), pp. 26–28.
Gerald H. Wilson, “Shaping the Psalter: A Consideration of Editorial Linkage in the Book of Psalms,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 81.
As a result of its final form, the Psalter counters continuing concern for the restoration of the Davidic dynasty and kingdom with the wise counsel to seek refuge in a kingdom ‘not of this world’—the eternal kingdom in which Yhwh alone is king.
Gerald H. Wilson, “Shaping the Psalter: A Consideration of Editorial Linkage in the Book of Psalms,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 81.
*****”Rather than a hymnbook, the Psalter is a symphony with many movements, or better yet an oratorio in which a multitude of voices—singly and in concert—rise in a crescendo of praise. While each individual composition may stand on its own—as an aria from the Elijah—the whole has an integrity that cannot and must not be ignored.”
Gerald H. Wilson, “Shaping the Psalter: A Consideration of Editorial Linkage in the Book of Psalms,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann, vol. 159, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 82.
Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 4.
HMMM??
In chapter 3 an argument is made for an integrated threefold approach to the interpretation of Scripture: prayerful and devotional to hear the voice of God; trustful and sympathetic to hear the voice of the author; and scientific to hear the voice of the text. All three are necessary at one and the same time, we will argue, for an accredited exegesis.
a scientific investigation of the text’s empirical data is also necessary for an accredited hermeneutic. By scientific we mean the grammatico-historical approach, interpreting words within the context of the speaker’s world. The Bible itself uses this approach, explaining words not understood by the audience (cf. ) and explaining customs that had become otiose at the time of writing (cf. ). Orthodox theology demands this approach, for it confesses the authors of the Bible were inspired by the Spirit of God to reveal the mind of God to his covenant people and that he did so in words that demanded faith and obedience.
Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 5.
?
This renewed interest in the Scriptures resulted, at p 21 least in part, in an eschatological reinterpretation of the Davidic promises and the prophetic passages found in the Psalter
Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 20–21.
??
Third, the Psalms were appropriated to address the theological concerns of the restoration community, in particular their relationship to God’s covenant promises to their ancestors.
Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 21.
**
The question as to when the Psalter, which is obviously made up of several smaller, earlier collections,6 assumed its canonical form cannot be answered precisely, but certain parameters can be identified.
6 For example, ends with the notation, “This concludes the prayers of David, son of Jesse” (v. 20), and are all connected to Asaph. For more on the evidence of earlier collections, see Bruce K. Waltke, An Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), pp. 883–84; see also p. 101–4 in this volume.
Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 21.
**
USE BECKWORTH”S SOURCE
—>The prologue to Ben Sirach (c. 180 bce) refers to a tripartite canon.7 Customarily, the Psalms were placed p 22 first in the third part of the canon, the Writings (Hebrew, Ketûbîm). Thus, the title “Psalter” as a metonymy for the third part of the Jewish canon, was an accepted conventional title (see also ).
7 Roger Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), p. 111. In addition to Beckwith’s thorough analysis of the historical development of the OT canon, see Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, pp. xxiii–xxiv.
Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 21–22.
This conventional title appears in a Greek translation, allowing us to assume that the tripartite canon had existed in Hebrew for some time.8 Additionally, the Septuagint translation (LXX) reflects a form of the Psalter virtually identical to ours. Although it is notoriously difficult to date this translation, recent attempts all place it mid-first century bce or earlier.9
8 Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon, p. 21.
9 See Schaper’s discussion of recent attempts in Eschatology in the Greek Psalter, WUNT 76 (Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1995), pp. 39–45. He states at the outset that data for deciding the question is “unsatisfying.” Munnich dates it to the early second century bce based on comparative lexicography. Van der Kooij dates it to the mid-first century bce based on similarities between LXX Psalms and the kaige recension of the Psalms found in the seventh column of Origen’s Hexapla. Schaper rejects both in favor of a date in the late second century bce, largely based on what he perceives to be references to the Maccabean dynasty in ; (MT: 60:8–10; 108:8–10). As he admits himself, he can only propose it as a tentative hypothesis.
Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 22.
Many scholars also believe that the editors of the Psalter succeeded in building out of pre-existing psalms and psalm collections a book with a distinct overall message. In addition, there exists a growing consensus among several leading scholars that there is a sequential “theological intentionality” in the Psalter’s current shape, although they disagree about where the center of this intentional ordering lies (i.e., Brueggemann, ; Wilson, Book 4 []).16
16 Nasuti, Defining the Sacred Songs, pp. 175–77; Claus Westermann, Praise and Lament in the Psalms (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981), p. 258; B. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), pp. 515–17.
Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 23.
This Messianic interpretation p 28 of the Psalter appropriated a prophetic impulse already present in the original divine intention of the Psalter39 and anticipated the NT treatment of the psalms as “prophecies” (i.e., ; ; ; ).40 David was considered a prophet, and as such the Psalms were interpreted to be prophesying about the contemporary events and the Qumran community.41
39 Nasuti points out that, in Childs’s discussion regarding the eschatological orientation of the Psalter, Childs does not deal with the question as to whether this orientation stems from a prophetic impulse already present in the original intent of the psalm (following Becker) or from a decisive reinterpretation during Second Temple Judaism (following Begrich). Defining the Sacred Songs, p. 164 n. 3.
40 According to Gillingham, “Of the 116 most obvious references to the psalms in the NT, at least 75 of these understood the psalms in a future-oriented way; when the psalms are quoted they are frequently referred to as “prophecies” (“From Liturgy to Prophecy,” p. 471).
41 Qumran manuscript 11QPsa, in referring to David’s psalmic compositions, reads, “All these he uttered through prophecy which was given him from before the Most High.” Gillingham, “From Liturgy to Prophecy,” p. 483.
Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 27–28.
***I Disagree With BW here.***
The publication of more recent psalm commentaries suggests that, as with all academic fashions, “form-criticism” may be running out of steam.
Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 77.
?? Not sure
Jewish tradition explained this second “Pentateuch” as a conscious echo of the first. A midrash from the Talmudic period on states: “as Moses gave five books of laws to Israel, so David gave five books of Psalms to Israel.”61 This analogy is appropriate. Moses instituted Israel’s liturgical elements: its sacred objects, festivals, personnel, and activities, and David (Israel’s “Mozart”) transformed the Mosaic liturgy into opera by prescribing the staging of Solomon’s temple, giving it musical accompaniment and the libretto of his psalms.
Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 102.
an accredited exegesis of the Psalter employs the grammatico-historical method as qualified by the traditional approach in contradistinction to the literary-analytical approach, by a judicious use of the form-critical, rhetorical-critical, and cult-functional approaches, and by the canonical-Messianic approach. In sum, we return to Calvin’s plain sense of the text approach, appropriately enriched by these new disciplines.
Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 112.
Vincent, M.A. "The Shape of the Psalter: An Eschatological Dimension?" In New Heaven and New Earth: Prophecy and the Millennium : Essays in Honour of Anthony Gelston eds P.J. Harland and Robert Hayward, Leiden: Brill, 1999. 61-
Harland, P. J., and Robert Hayward, eds. New Heaven and New Earth Prophecy and the Millennium. Leiden: Brill, 1999.
MN-he essentially argues that the Psalms have a beginning middle and end that all describe eschatology.
IN regards to
"It is important to stress that this psalm was chosen (or at the very least allowed to remain) as an introductory psalm for the Psalter when it was finally compiled after the Exile. Victory for God and his son/king is promised and asserted, at a time when there was no king, and when the nation had little political significance." 66
"Reading the Psalter from the perspective of its final form and taking into account the editorial decision made in placing this psalm in this position we are forced into understanding it eschatologically, whatever its origins may have been." 66
"It is remarkable that this psalm should front a collection which includes a substantial number of psalms which deal with god's rejection of Zion and the failure of the kingship and kingdom. That this psalm should assert God's rule (when we know what is coming i the rest of Psalter) makes it almost certain that this Psalm is to b given an eschatological interpretation." 66
"As readers of the first two psalms of the Psalter we already know what we have to do, ad what God is planning to do." 67
74 concerning book's 1-2 "it is significant that most of these Davidic psalms portray David as a suffering and victimized figure, rather than a swashbuckling king."
"It was also to this suffering figure (as a representative of each individual Israelite, and in all probability as a symbol of the nation as well) that the promises were made."
***????
"The bulk of the Psalter shows little trace of having been subjected to a systematic editorial process intended to highlight eschatological solutions." 79
"One can read the Psalter eschatologically, even to the extent of finding an eschatological 'programme' within it; but the final editors' organizational scheme is a far cry from making one or even encouraging one to read the Psalter in that way." 79
81 "Therefore, at the current state of research it seems questionable whether we can speak with any certainty about editorial intentionality--that we can discern an editorial master-plan for the Psalter such that we can state that the editors were deliberately giving us a particular message in the very way in which they ordered their materials."
****
"There is not enough evidence to assert confidently a deliberate theological shaping to the Psalter, even though certain tendencies do seem to be clear." 81
82 "to see the Psalter as a whole in the structural and thematic terms outlined in this essay can be a genuinely helpful way of comprehending it, of saying something meaningful about the Psalter within a brief compass. It provides a way for readers to approach the work and enables them to take home a message from it as a whole."
The Message of the Psalter: An Eschatological Programme in the Book of Psalms
David C. Mitchell
72 "A careful examination of the structure of Books I-III shows that the are bound together in such a way as to appear the product of our process of literary composition."
75 in regards to and books 1-3 and 4-5 "...the two major sections of the Psalter were conjoined with the consummate and purposeful artistry and are not simply the result of haphazard pairing."
78 the arrangement of the Psalms "It was redacted, apparently from earlier collections of lyrics. Nor am I suggesting that there were not earlier partial redactions. There almost certainly were. But its final form appears to b the result not of chance but design, resulting from the single redactional impulse of a literary craftsman or craftsmen. Moreover, certain factors such as the use of divine names in Books II and III, suggest there was a deliberate purpose or agenda behind the redaction."
The Shape and Message of Book III Robert L. Cole
10 "It has become clear in recent years that the phenomenon of parallelism and religion in the Psalter must be extended beyond that of individual poems to the surrounding psalms and finally the entire collection. The ordering and shaping of the collection casts the individual Psalms in a new light, even beyond that discerned through rhetorical criticism Such a focus moves from what the individual poem expresses to a meaning implied by the final compilation, the latter becoming a single 'text.' Consequently, the study of the final shape of the Psalter is simply a recognition that parallelism is not restricted o the individual poem."
The Book of Psalms Michael A. Grisanti
While there may not be a traceable theme throughout the Psalter, there do appear to be traces of careful organization. and 2 form a fitting introduction and psalms 145–150 a triumphant finale. Certain psalms seem to have been used as seams between the books (, , , ).
Since most scholars date the copying of 11QPs a to AD 30–50, 9 various suggestions have been made about the significance of this for the development of the canon. While some suggest that it indicates that the text, order, and number of psalms had not yet been finalized, others say that the collection of psalms present in 11QPs a could suggest a kind of Qumran prayer book. Evidence based on these Psalms scrolls is insufficient to make a final decision. Other factors (see chap. 6 for a discussion of the canon of the OT) suggest that the OT canon was closed in the fourth century BC.
The Canonicity of the Old Testament Eugene H. Merrill
Among the earliest and most important witnesses to the extent, content, and even division of the canon is the prologue to the apocryphal book Ben Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus). There the grandson and translator of the original author, Jeshua ben Sirach, relates in 132 BC how his grandfather had set out 50 years before to author "something in the line of instruction and wisdom" to assist readers of the Mosaic law in their understanding. He begs the readers' indulgence for his translation from Hebrew into Greek, noting, with a reference to the Septuagint of about 200 BC, that "the Law itself, and the prophecies, and the rest of the books, differ not a little in translation from the original." 12 The identity of "Law" and "prophecies" is clear enough (the Torah and Nebi'im of later nomenclature) and by "the rest of the books" is certainly intended—though here imprecisely—the third part of the canon, the "writings" (Kethubim). By the early second century there clearly existed the notion of a tripartite canon, a collection that already precluded such works as Ben Sirach's own worthy composition. 13
A second voice, though not contemporary to the pre-Christian period, is that of Josephus, the famed Jewish historian, who, in a treatise titled Ad Apionem (c. AD 100), limits the canon to 22 books "which are justly believed to be divine." Five are by Moses; four by the prophets (none after Artaxerxes II, c. 424 BC); and the remaining 13, which "contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life," are clearly a reference to the Kethubim. The order and arrangement of the books in the canon familiar to Josephus (later to be known as the Masoretic canon) differ from modern Protestant canons, but the contents are exactly the same. 14 Again, Josephus was aware of a three-part canon as was Ben Sirach, and, indeed, Jesus Himself spoke of such a division: "the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms" ().
As for the third part, the "Writings," the very imprecision of the term is indicative of the fluidity attendant to their definition. Though the dates of the works in this section cannot be ascertained with certainty, the various ancient Jewish traditions allow no date later than 400 BC for any of them. 20 But the date of their composition (and of the prophetic works for that matter) must not be confused with the date of their recognition as canon. Though works later than 400 appear for that reason to be excluded from canonical consideration, not all the writings earlier than that date found automatic acceptance.
The Development of the Historical Critical Method Eugene H. Merrill
Gunkel therefore shifted his attention from the JEDP documents as separate sources to the background and history of the literary types of which they consisted and which they shared in common. He attempted to identify these types by their structural and stylistic patterns, to determine the kinds of sociocultural-religious settings ( Sitz im Leben ) that gave rise to them, and to trace the transmission of the individual compositions from their (oral) creation to their present place in the sacred text.
Gene Tucker suggests the following four steps in the form-critical analysis of a biblical text: (1) analysis of the structure; (2) description of the genre; (3) definition of the setting or settings; and (4) statement of the intention, purpose, or function of the text. 44
Frequently, however, attempts to discover settings for individual compositions apart from clues within their literary context are subjective and misleading. This is one of the liabilities of the form-critical approach and the source of much abuse of the method.
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On the other hand guessing the intention of noncontextualized compositions such as many of the psalms on form-critical lines alone is extremely hazardous, for it forces these compositions into a functional straitjacket that allows their authors no room for creativity. In other words one must allow a biblical (or any other) writer to employ a literary form in any way he or she chooses without drawing hasty conclusions as to how the author inevitably must have used it.
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To use the transparently clear indication of redactional activity in such anthological works as Psalms, Proverbs, and (perhaps) Ecclesiastes and in historiographical compositions such as Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles (or even Joshua through Kings, the so-called "Deteronomic history") as proof for such activity throughout the biblical literature is to engage in question-begging.
Concern about canonical readings...
Moreover, canonical criticism fails to take seriously the diachronic dimensions of the divine self-disclosure in the OT. In its desire to camp on the finished product it dismisses too easily the canon's own witness as to how it achieved its present shape.
Gerald Wilson. “King, Messiah, and the Reign of God: Revisiting the Royal Psalms and the Shape of the
Psalter.” Pages 391-406 in The Book of Psalms: Composition and Reception. Edited by Peter W. Flint and Patrick D. Miller. Leiden: Brill, 2005.
Wilson edits original views in order to “foster hope for the restoration of the Davidic kingdom and the fortunes of Judah.
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