The Book of Psalms: Composition and Reception

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

INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW OF PSALMS
SCHOLARSHIP IN THIS VOLUME

The present volume was conceived and planned in the closing stages of the nineteen nineties, with the objective of producing a new collection of studies on the Psalter in the early years of a century's turning. The twenty-seven essays that comprise this volume — in addition to this introductory chapter — are a representative sampling of the extensive investigation of the Psalter in contemporary biblical scholarship. A wide range of contributors — from Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa — were selected. Essayists were invited with a view to representing the spectrum of opinion in the current interpretation of the Psalter, over a wide range of subjects. While this collection is in no sense exhaustive relative to either topics or individuals presently engaged in Psalms study, what is presented here should serve to identify the issues and concerns that belong generally to the study of the Psalms in the early years of a new millennium, as well as the emphases to be found in the present engagement of those issues by scholars in the field. The picture that comes forth gives some idea of the breadth of concern and research, while also lifting up some matters that are receiving particular attention.

Of special note is the lively interest in the Psalter as a collection or as a book comprised of various collections. The division of the Psalter into five great blocks is evidenced by the presence of the doxologies at strategic points in the book (Book I, Psalms 1 —41; Book II, Psalms 42-72; Book III, Psalms 73-89; Book IV, Psalms 90-106; and Book V, Psalms 107-50). The interpretive significance of those divisions, as well as the many other groupings of the Psalter — some of them explicitly indicated by headings or otherwise, others more implicit but with linguistic and other markings — has been the object of vigorous study over the last quarter century. The result has been not only a focus upon the Psalter as a literary work, but a heightened reading of Psalms in relation to other psalms rather than simply reading them individually as an anthology. In this collection, one may see various manifestations of this development in Psalms study. Some of the treatments focus particularly upon the process of selection and redaction, such as Harry Nasuti's investigation of the interpretive significance of sequence and selection of the Psalms. His general discus-

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