The Book of Psalms: Composition and Reception

By Peter W. Flint; Patrick D. Miller Jr. | Go to book overview

MOWINCKEL'S ENTHRONEMENT FESTIVAL: A REVIEW

J. J. M. ROBERTS


AN OUTLINE OF MOWINCKEL'S THEORY

Sigmund Mowinckel, the illustrious Norwegian student of the famous German form critic Hermann Gunkel, first put forward his theory of the enthronement festival in 1922.1 In contrast to Gunkel, who still held to the primarily Protestant view of classical liberalism that true piety was individual piety and thus tended to be dismissive of communal expressions of piety, Mowinckel, influenced by the new interest in primitive religion and by the stirrings of the liturgical renewal movement, was far more open to the genuineness and importance of communal piety. Thus Mowinckel regarded the Psalms as primarily the product of the communal, mainly pre-exilic cult, not as late, post-exilic expressions of individual piety based on earlier, no longer preserved, cult Psalms.

He also argued that the form critical approach of Gunkel needed to be supplemented by what he called a cult functional approach, since Psalms of different types could be used at different points in the same ritual of worship. Beginning with the classical enthronement Psalms celebrating Yahweh's kingship — Psalms 47, 93, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100 — and supplementing them with a number of other Psalms that are linked to these by shared motifs and vocabulary — Psalms 8, 15, 24, 29, 33, 46, 48, 50, 66A, 75, 76, 81, 82, 84, 87, 114, 118, 132, 149,

1 Sigmund Mowinckel, Psalmenstudien H: Das Thronbesteigungsfest Jahwäs
und der Ursprung der Eschatologie
(Kristiania, Norway: J. Dybwad, 1922).
Mowinckel republished all six volumes of his Psalmenstudien in two volumes
(vol. I = Buch I—II; vol. 2 = Buch III—VI) in 1966 with corrections and anno-
tations (Amsterdam: P. Schippers, 1966), and any references to his work in this
paper will be to this later edition. In the foreword to this edition he cites his many
later works on the Psalms in which he modified or revised many of the ideas he
had expressed in his original work (the page is unnumbered, but follows vi).
Among his later works, one should especially mention The Psalms in Israel's
Worship I-ll
(New York and Nashville: Abingdon, 1962), a translation (by D. R.
AP-Thomas) and revision of his Norwegian work Offersang og Sangoffer (Oslo:
H. Aschehoug, 1951).

-97-

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