Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Introduction to the Psalms: The Genres Fo the Religious Lyric of Israel

Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Introduction to the Psalms: The Genres Fo the Religious Lyric of Israel

Article excerpt

Introduction to the Psalms: The Genres of the Religious Lyric of Israel. By Hermann Gunkel and Joachim Begrich. Translated by James D. Nogalski. Mercer Library of Biblical Studies. Macon: Mercer University, 1998, ix + 388 pp., $45.00.

Sixty-five years after its publication in German, this classic of OT scholarship is finally available to an English-speaking audience. The father of OT form-critical studies, Gunkel in this volume lays out the now-familiar genres of the psalms such as hymns (i.e. community praise psalms), individual thanksgivings, individual and community laments, royal psalms, and others. (Gunkel's work was completed after his death by his student Begrich.) In its day, such classifications were a major step forward in the study of the psalms, and Gunkel's form-critical observations still form the foundation for current analyses, even though his categories have been refined by Westermann, Gerstenberger and others.

Some aspects of Gunkel's work have not stood the test of time so well, including his attempts to correlate every form (genre) with a different Sitz im Leben in Israel, his assumption that Israel's religion was the product of an evolutionary development from a simple, primitive religion to a more complex one, and his radical emendations of the text. …

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