AND SELECTION IN THE BOOK OF PSALMS
HARRY P. NASUTI
The last twenty years have seen an important shift in the scholarly approach to the Psalms. Whereas most of the twentieth century was devoted to refining and developing the form-critical insights of Hermann Gunkel and Sigmund Mowinckel, recent attention has focused on the literary shape and theological orientation of the book of Psalms as a whole. Research has obviously continued on the literary and theological interpretation of the individual psalms, but considerable creative energy has been devoted to the place of these psalms—and the collections and genres to which they belong — in the larger whole.
Clearly, much very fruitful work has been done in this area in a remarkably short period of time. Nevertheless, one should also take note of a number of cautionary voices that are less convinced of either the possibility of isolating a single theological perspective for the book or the wisdom of focusing exclusively on the book nature of these texts.1 One should perhaps also not ignore the larger question of whether the attempt to isolate the meaning of the Psalter's shape is in the end a redaction-critical or a canonical enterprise.2
This essay hopes to make a modest contribution to the present debate by examining two interpretive strategies that have played a sig
1 So, for example, E. S. Gerstenberger, “Der Psalter als Buch und als
Sammlung,” in K. Seybold and E. Zenger (eds.), Neue Wege der Psalmen-
forschung (Herders Biblische Studien 1: Freiburg: Herder, 1994) 3-13; and N.
Whybray, Reading the Psalms as a Book (JSOTSup 222: Sheffield: Sheffield
Academic Press, 1996).
2 On this question, see M. Millard, “Von der Psalmenexegese zur Psalterexe-
gese: Anmerkungen zum Neuansatz von Frank-Lothar Hossfeld und Erich Zen-
ger,” as well as the following responses by R. Rendtorff (“Anfragen an Frank-
Lothar Hossfeld und Erich Zenger: Aufgrund der Lektüre des Beitrages von
Matthias Miliard”), F.-L. Hossfeld and E. Zenger (“Neue und Alte Wege der
Psalmenexegese: Antworten auf die Fragen von M. Miliard und R. Rendtorff),
and M. Miliard (“Respons”), in Bl 4 (1996) 311-45. Cf. also my Defining the Sa-
cred Songs: Genre, Tradition and the Post-Critical Interpretation of the Psalms
(JSOTSup 218; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999) 163-208.