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Approaching and Interpreting the Book of Psalms

Week 1, Psalms (OT426, etc.), Melbourne School of Theology, 2015

Andrew Brown

on 26 August 2015

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Transcript of Approaching and Interpreting the Book of Psalms

Approaching and Interpreting the Book of Psalms
interpret individually
interpret with nearby psalms
interpret with similar psalms
genre emphasis
structure emphasis
primary context is literary
approach is literary-critical
assumed context is social
approach is form-critical
structure reflects historical contexts in which psalms were written and assembled
= accidental historical shape
structure intended to reflect the story of Israel's journey
= purposeful historical shape
OR purposeful thematic shape
relatively orderly psalter
relatively disorderly psalter
Interpretive Approach to an Individual Psalm
interpret biographically
thematic unity
narrative unity
How quickly to the cross?
Historical Reflection
v. Historical Setting
Is the historical story implied in the shape of the book of Psalms (if you agree that there is!) directly related to the historical setting in the which individual psalms originated?
...assume that there is a Davidic king on the throne of Judah
"Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness."
(Psa 72:1 NIV)
...reflect on the destruction of the temple
"O God, foreigners have invaded your chosen land; they have polluted your holy temple and turned Jerusalem into a heap of ruins."
(Psa 79:1 NET)
...imply a return from Babylonian captivity
"When the LORD restored the well-being of Zion, we thought we were dreaming." (Psa 126:1 NET)
not necessarily!
but notice that there are psalms that...
The differences between the psalters of MT, LXX, Syriac and Qumran psalms scrolls seems to indicate that the contents of the book were still being finalized as late as Jesus' time.
Understanding Hebrew Poetry
More on the themes of Psalms to come in Week 8!
More to come also on the rich 'reception history' of Psalms (weeks 2, 4-5, 7).
to be explored further in weeks 3, 8, 11
e.g. 'shape of Psalms' studies
e.g. Gunkel-style form criticism
e.g. Mowinckel-style
form criticism
Psalms through the Centuries;
Psalms as Christian Worship,
Full transcript