Book of Psalms


Psalms (sämz) or Psalter (sôl´tər), book of the Bible, a collection of 150 hymnic pieces. Since the last centuries BC, this book has been the chief hymnal of Jews, and subsequently, of Christians. The hymns are of varying date and authorship, but many are ascribed to David, and some to Asaph1,Solomon, Moses, and the sons of Korah. Many scholars believe that some of the Psalms originated in David's time and some even earlier. Most of them, however, took their present form between c.538 BC (when the Jews returned from Babylonian exile) and c.100 BC According to the Hebrew text, the Psalms are divided into five books: Psalms 1–41; 42–72; 73–89; 90–106; 107–150. The poems vary significantly in tone and subject. Psalms occur throughout the Bible, the Apocrypha, and the Pseudepigrapha. The Syriac Psalter adds Psalm 151, found also in the Psalms Scroll at Qumran. The history of Psalm translations is more extensive than that of any other part of the Bible. Earlier English versions include those of St. Aldhelm and of Richard Rolle. The Psalms have been translated into English metrical verse a number of times, e.g., the Bay Psalm Book and versions by Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady and by Isaac Watts. Until the late 20th cent. the Psalms in the Book of Common Prayer were in the version of the Great Bible of 1539 (by Miles Coverdale from the Vulgate). The use of this version, instead of the Authorized Version, was continued because of its popularity.

See (besides books listed under Old Testament) studies by A. A. Anderson (1972), D. Kidner (1973, 1975), C. Westermann (1980), W. Brueggemann (1984), and H. J. Kraus (1987, 1989).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Book of Psalms: Selected full-text books and articles

The Book of Psalms: Composition and Reception By Peter W. Flint; Patrick D. Miller Jr Brill, 2005
The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary By Walter Brueggemann Augsburg Pub. House, 1984
The Psalms: Structure, Content and Message By Claus Westermann; Ralph D. Gehrke Augsburg Pub. House, 1980
The Psalms in Rhythmic Prose By James A. S. J. Kleist; Thomas J. S. J. Lynam Bruce, 1954
The Burden of Prophecy: Poetic Utterance in the Prophets of the Old Testament By Albert Cook Southern Illinois University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Sign, Song, and Prayer in the Dynamic Internality of Psalms"
The Enigma of the Bay Psalm Book By Zoltán Haraszti University of Chicago Press, 1956
The Salisbury Psalter By Celia Sisam; Kenneth Sisam Published for the Early English Text Society, 1959
The Psalms and the Life of Faith By Walter Brueggemann; Patrick D. Miller Fortress Press, 1995
The Psalms in Israel's Worship By Sigmund Mowinckel; D. R. Ap-Thomas Abingdon Press, vol.1, 1962
Tradition and Interpretation By G. W. Anderson Clarendon Press, 1979
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IX "The Psalms and Israelite Worship"
The Art of Biblical Poetry By Robert Alter Basic Books, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "Forms of Faith in Psalms"
A History of the English Bible as Literature By David Norton Cambridge University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Six "The Psalter in Verse and Poetry"
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