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A Need to Explore the Sitz im Literatur of the Psalter

November 9, 2008

Earlier I was reading Sweeney’s introduction to prophetic literature (vol. XVI in FOTL) and I came across the following paragraph which struck me as being highly relevant to a study of the Psalter.

Although the words and actions of the original prophets initiated the composition of the prophetic literature, the writings of the later editor and tradents completed it. Obviously, they saw something of value in the words as an address to them and their own situations. Only by investigating the process by which such later tradents understood, reformulated, and reapplied the earlier words of the prophets can the form critic identify the impetus for the preservation, growth, and continued vitality of the prophetic tradition. In order to understand fully the meaning and significance of the prophetic literature in relation to the communities that produced it, the form critic must account for the prophetic book in its entirety. This means that the form critic must consider both the “original” prophetic speech forms and the later material that defines the present form, insofar as they can be identified. The setting of a text form therefore includes both its Sitz im Leben (“setting in life”) and its Sitz im Literatur (“setting in literature”; Richter, Exegese, 148)

Sweeney, M. A. (1996) Isaiah 1-39 with an Introduction to Prophetic Literature. FOTL. Eerdmans. pp. 12

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2008 2:37 pm

    What a brilliant quote. I’ve posted it in my discussion with Douglas (you’ll no doubt be notified by Blogger).

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