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Intertextuality and the Interpretation of Psalm 1

May 18, 2011

Philippus Jacobus Botha’s article on Ps. 1 and intertextuality is very interesting.


The meaning of the word ‘Torah’ in Psalm 1:2 is investigated in the light of the intratextual context of Psalm 1 itself and in the light of intertextual connections of this psalm with Joshua 1, Jeremiah 17, Psalms 52 and 92, Job 8, Ezekiel 47, and 1 Chronicles 22. It is contended that ‘Torah’ in Psalm 1:2 refers to the Mosaic Torah rather than to the Psalter itself. The Torah of Moses is depicted in Psalm 1 as a guide on the road of life to the presence of Yahweh, symbolised by a paradise-like temple garden. The mutual connections of Psalm 1 and 1 Chronicles 22 with Joshua 1 might suggest that Psalm 1 was intended as an introduction to the first three books of the Psalter in the first place.

Full text: here.


Scripture & Canon

May 18, 2011

In her study of the Hebrew Psalter, Nancy L. DeClaisse-Walford argues that

Based on the evidence from Qumran, the Talmud, Josephus, Ecclesiasticus, and the New Testament, we can trace a development from ‘scripture’ – at least the law and the prophets in the second century BCE – to ‘canon’ – at most the books listed in Bava Batra in the second century CE.

She argues, contrary to Hossfeld and Zenger, that

the Psalter achieved its ‘substantial’ form sometime in the late Persian/early Greek period (late 4th century). The ‘story line’ was in place by that time, but the ‘introduction’ and ‘conclusion’ and the actual content of Books Four and Five remained fluid for several centuries.

[DeClaisse-Walford, N. L. (1997) Reading from the Beginning: The Shaping of the Hebrew Psalter Mercer University Press. pp. 19]

Pope Benedict XVI on Pss. 39 & 118

December 6, 2009

In his Meditation of the Holy Father during the first General Congregation of the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops Pope Benedict XVI said:

…the Word of God is the foundation of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realistic, we must rely upon this reality. We must change our idea that matter, solid things, things we can touch, are the more solid, the more certain reality. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount the Lord speaks to us about the two possible foundations for building the house of one’s life: sand and rock. The one who builds on sand builds only on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will pass away. We can see this now with the fall of large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. The one who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism. The realist is the one who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things. Realist is the one who builds his life on this foundation, which is permanent. Thus the first verses of the Psalm invite us to discover what reality is and how to find the foundation of our life, how to build life.

Qumran and the growth of the Psalter

October 25, 2009

According to Peter Flint we can discern three literary editions of the Psalter: Edition I (Pss. 1/2 – 89), Edition IIa (Pss. 1/2 – 89 and 11QPs^a), and Edition IIb (Pss. 1/2 – 89 and Pss. 90-150). After looking at the Qumran MSS Dwight D. Swanson states that there is manuscript evidence for at least three Psalters existing simultaneously in late Second Temple Judaism: an MT-type, a Cave 11-type, and an LXX-type and suggests that it is not unreasonable to conclude that there could have been more. The MT Psalter then appears to be the latest edition of the Psalter and, he argues, that the MT-Psalter reached its final form in the late first century C.E.*

* SWANSON, D. D. (2005) “Qumran and the Psalms”, in David Firth and Philip S. Johnston (eds.) Interpreting the Psalms: Issues and Approaches. IVP. pp. 259-260

Futato’s commentary on the Psalms

October 3, 2009

Do check out Mark Futato’s newest commentary on the Psalter.

An interview with Nancy deClaisse-Walford

October 3, 2009

John Anderson interviews Nancy deClaisse-Walford here.

The metanarrative of the Psalter

August 17, 2009

See John’s take here.

Briggs’ Commentary on the Psalms

July 24, 2009

Find them here.

Law, Prophets and Psalms

June 21, 2009

I have often wondered why in the Gospel of St. Luke we have the order of Law, Prophets and Psalms (Luke 24:44). I think it may be to do with how the Psalms were viewed in early Judaism. The Qumran community viewed the Psalms as prophecy composed by David (11QPs^a) and so I would suggest that the formula of “law and the prophets” (Luke 16:16) may have been extended by Luke, and the community of faith he was representative of, who added the Psalms as a distinct part of their scripture on the grounds that they are really a subset of the prophets. Any thoughts?

The Power of Heaven Let Loose on Earth

June 20, 2009

In a sermon at the Eucharist and Baptism in Durham Cathedral on the feast of Pentecost entitled “The Power of Heaven Let Loose on Earth” Bishop N. T. Wright made reference to Psalm 2:

In Psalm 2, to which the early Christians looked back as they pondered the mystery of who Jesus really was, the nations and their rulers make a great rage and fuss, but ‘he who dwells in heaven laughs; the Lord has them in derision.’ Then there comes the enthronement of God’s anointed: ‘Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.’ ‘You are my son’, says God to his anointed and enthroned king, ‘this day I have begotten you; ask of me and I will give you the nations as your inheritance; the uttermost parts of the earth as your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ And the Psalm ends with a call to the rulers of the earth to be wise, to submit to the rule of God’s anointed king. We cannot ponder this too deeply. The one who is enthroned in heaven is the one who is ruling over the earth, to whom all earthly rulers must give account. That is the meaning of the Ascension, and with it the meaning, also, of Pentecost.

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