Tradition and Interpretation

By G. W. Anderson | Go to book overview

IX
THE PSALMS AND ISRAELITE WORSHIP

J. H. EATON


I. INTRODUCTION

(a) The nature of the task--difficulties and principles

THE study of the Psalms in relation to Israelite worship has been very fruitful; it has rediscovered the vitality of many texts and done much to change our whole view of Israelite religion. Nevertheless, it has given rise to some difficult and controversial questions.

Of the various sources of difficulty, we may mention first the poetic style of the Psalms. This gives rise to many ambiguities when the original human context has been lost. Thus it is often doubtful whether a verb refers to past, present, or future, or whether it describes a fact or expresses a wish. Increasing knowledge of other Semitic languages has contributed much to the discussion of syntax and vocabulary, but has also created many new uncertainties. The stimulating commentary of M. Dahood well illustrates this, abounding in novel and controversial renderings.

Another difficulty is to specify what we mean by a psalm's 'original' meaning or use. Ancient compositions so often appear as new permutations of older stock rather than as original creations. If one sentence reflects a rite of mythological import, should we take it as evidence of the psalm's setting in Israelite worship, or might it be a fragment from pre-Israelite times, re-used with an altered intention? Are royal concepts evidence of a king's psalm, or have they been reapplied to commoners? Presumably, the most likely explanation of the parts of a psalm will be that which leads to a good explanation of the whole. 'Original' will refer to the meaning and use which belonged to the psalm when it was constituted in its

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Tradition and Interpretation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction- Changing Perspectives in Old Testament Study xiii
  • I- The Textual Transmission of the Old Testament 1
  • Bibliography 29
  • II- Semitic Philology and the Interpretation of the Old Testament 31
  • III- Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Their Bearing on the Old Testament 65
  • Bibliography 94
  • IV- Pentateuchal Problems 96
  • Bibliography 122
  • V- Old Testament Historiography 125
  • VI- Prophecy and the Prophetic Literature 163
  • Bibliography 187
  • VII- Apocalyptic 189
  • Bibliography 212
  • VIII- Wisdom 214
  • Bibliography 234
  • IX- The Psalms and Israelite Worship 238
  • Bibliography 272
  • X- The History of Israel in the Pre-Exilic Period 274
  • Bibliography 318
  • XI- The History of Israel in the Exilic and Post-Exilic Periods 320
  • Bibliography 349
  • XII- The History of Israelite Religion 351
  • Bibliography 383
  • XIII- The Theology and Interpretation of the Old Testament 385
  • Bibliography 414
  • Index of Authors 429
  • General Index 439
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