Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Old Testament Essays]]> vol. 32 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>"Be exalted, o God, above the Heavens!" (Psalm 108:6) - Studies in the Book of Psalms and its reception - Presented to Phil J. Botha on his 65<sup>th</sup> birthday</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Psalm 39 (LXX 38): A Retributive Psalm?</b>]]> This paper is a contribution to the Festschrift for Prof. Phil Botha. As a teacher in Semitic Languages, he specialised in two corpora: poetry (Hebrew) and more specifically the Psalms, and Syriac, a prominent Aramaic dialect. He also demonstrated an interest in the Septuagint. It is an honour to dedicate this contribution to my colleague of many years, who has also had an impact on the international stage. In a recent international contribution, he argues that Ps 39 is effectively a song of retribution. This paper focuses on this Hebrew Psalm from the perspective of the Greek Psalms, as a pilot study, in order to test Botha's assumption; in his own words the psalm is intended "to serve as a wisdom reflection on how to overcome theologicalfrustration caused by delayed retribution." <![CDATA[<b>Psalm 41</b><b>:</b><b>14, or the Unity of the Masoretic Psalm 41</b>]]> Against the almost unanimous consensus over the editorial character of the doxology of Ps 41:14, this essay defends v. 14 as belonging to Ps 41. First, the author indicates the link between v. 14 and the previous v. 13, then with the incipit of the psalm. In fact, beatitude (v. 2) and benediction (v. 14) form a typical pair in the Psalter. In a second stage, the author delineates a structure for the whole of Ps 41 with the inclusion of v. 14. He recognises four stanzas (2-4, 5-7, 8-11, 12-14) which correspond with one another chiastically. The psalm intends to contrast the care which Yhwh, the God of Israel, gives to the weak with the behaviour of men who tend to marginalise them. The inclusion between vv. 2-4 and 14 has the sense of holding up God's behaviour for the imitation of his people. <![CDATA[<b>Storytelling in the Psalter? Chances and Limits of a Narrative Psalm Analysis - Shown Exemplarily in Psalm 64</b>]]> Storytelling in the psalter is usually attributed to those psalms which relate stories of the history of Israel. Narratology, the theory and procedure of studying narrative representations, is usually applied to narratives. However, there are certain features in the psalms, which allow us to define them as narrative texts and therefore examine them by means of narratology. This paper aims to contribute to a genre-overlapping approach towards poetry by means of opening the way to showing the benefits, as well as limitations of narratology applied to poetical texts by applying the narratological categories narrator/ narrative voice, plot/build-up of tension, characters and characterization, as well as time and space to Psalm. 64. <![CDATA[<b>The Ordered World of Psalm 92</b>]]> Similar to other psalms in Book IV of the Psalter (Pss 90-106), Psalm 92 responds to the events of the exile. In a psalm that contains elements of a hymn and a thanksgiving psalm as well as elements associated with the wisdom tradition, the psalmist confesses that the world remains well-ordered under Yahweh's rule despite recent events that might suggest otherwise. The very structure of the psalm itself implies a certain sense of orderliness and this sense of orderliness is addressed more explicitly by invoking particular themes (i.e., creation) and employing certain conceptual metaphors. <![CDATA[<b>"The Rivers Have Lifted up their Voice": Imagining the Mighty Waters in Psalm 93</b>]]> This paper traces and analyses the various possibilities to interpret the images of the rivers and majestic waters in Ps 93:3-4. The metaphorical description of the waters allows the readers to see a fascinating spectacle of nature but also a threatening natural force. Over centuries, interpreters have creatively explored these possibilities for their readings. To retrace the wide range of possible interpretations of Ps 93:3-4 two contexts are revealing, namely the occurrences of water images in the psalter and the history of interpretation of Ps 93:3-4. The insights these contexts offer are then used to determine the points of reference for such readings in the text, and to reconstruct the different perspectives of the readers and their interpretations. <![CDATA[<b>"I Love Yahweh and I Believe in Him - Therefore I Shall Proclaim His Name": How Psalm 116 Integrated and Reinterpreted Its Constituent Parts</b>]]> In studies on the biblical Psalms it is customary to ask why and for what purpose these poems came into existence. The present study departs from the observation that Psalm 116 can be regarded as an anthology which incorporated material from various other sources in the Hebrew Bible. The study aims to investigate the relationship between the various contributing constituents to the final form of Psalm 116. Therefore, it is necessary to add another question to those that are usually posed in studies on the Psalter, namely the "how?" question: How did the author/editors(s) use and incorporate different sources to come to the Psalm 116 as we know it in the Masoretic Text? The study argues that Psalm 116 is a prime example of the tendency in late post-exilic Psalmography to compile new poems by using existing material from the Hebrew Bible. Other examples of this style of writing are found inter alia in Pss 1; 19; 25; 34; 37; 86; and 119. This has been described in the past as an "anthological" style of composition. Very often in these psalms one can also detect a marked attempt to produce a symmetric pattern and also a marked influence from wisdom. All these tendencies are apparent in Ps 116. <![CDATA[<b>Making Sense of Psalm 127:3-5 in African / South African Contexts</b>]]> African wisdom sayings have enjoyed and continue to enjoy some authoritative status in varying African contexts from time immemorial till today. As sacred texts, African proverbs have shaped and continue to shape, whether consciously or not, the worldview of African peoples, even in present day contexts. The holistic worldview which embeds Ps 127:3-5, one that underlies many an African proverb, reveals the great store set by large families and the celebration of women's role as mothers in both contexts. The main question that this article seeks to engage is: If read from an (African) South African context, which insights may emerge from Ps 127:3-5? <![CDATA[<b>The Psychology of Place Attachment and Psalm 128</b>]]> The Psychology of Place Attachment confirms the cognitive-emotional bond that humans, since early times, have with a specific place. A material place is not only shaped physically and psychologically/spiritually by its inhabitants, but it in turn also shapes them, as it mediates the meanings ascribed to it through its sensuous presence. Appreciating Ps 128 through the "readerly lens" of place attachment (also as part of the ma'ªalôt-collection and Psalter as a whole), it was found that the poet(s) of this wisdom (-Torah ethical) psalm intuitively grasped the psychological benefits that a place exerts on its inhabitants. The experiences of memory, belonging, positive emotions, privacy and reflection, comfort and security, entertainment and aesthetics are reflected in the psalm. Both the small, intimate household and larger community Zion/Jerusalem, mediate Yahweh's presence and blessing, also as a retributive response to a wise life-style. Zion/Jerusalem and all it encompasses, become the centre of the universe, the place par excellence for a fulfilled life. <![CDATA[<b>Jewish and Christian Approaches to Suffering in the Reception of Psalm 137</b>]]> This paper illustrates how Psalm 137 is used to address the question of suffering by Jews and Christians during various crises of faith. In Jewish tradition, the psalm has a "meta-narrative " which meant reading it as a story set in poetry, speaking to the people as a whole not only emotionally but also materially. Only in later Christian reception does the engagement with this psalm become more obviously physical; Christians tend to avoid seeing the psalm as a meta-narrative and instead select single verses or phrases from it in order to teach spiritual lessons, often through the use of "allegory", where different words are used to speak to more individual concerns. A selective survey of Jewish and Christian approaches to suffering in the reception of Psalm 137 suggests that the Christian reception of Psalm 137 in times of suffering is distinct from the Jewish one. Whereas early Jewish readings had a more corporate and physical emphasis, as crisis after crisis threatened the identity of the Jews as a people, early Christian readings are more personal and spiritualised, heightened through the use of allegory. <![CDATA[<b>Song(s) of Struggle: A Decolonial Reading of Psalm 137 in Light of South Africa's Struggle Songs</b>]]> This article engages in a decolonial reading of Ps 137 in light of South African songs of struggle. In this reading, Ps 137 is regarded as an epic song which combines struggle songs which originated within the golah community in response to the colonial relations between the oppressor and the oppressed. The songs of struggle then gained new life during the post-exilic period as a result of the new colonial relation between the Yehud community and the Persian Empire. Therefore, Ps 137 should be viewed as not a mere song, but an anthology of songs of struggle: a protest song (vv. 1-4), a sorrow song (vv. 5-6), and a war song (vv. 79). <![CDATA[<b>Psalm 139: A Study in Ambiguity</b>]]> The interpretation of Ps 139 remains a deeply contested matter. In particular, the psalm's genre and integrity continue to be debated, with the key issues related to the place of vv. 19-22. Do these verses constitute the key to interpretation, or are they a later interpolation? If they are an interpolation, can we trace the psalm's development back through the material in vv. 1-18 (possibly with some minor expansions), so that vv. 23-24 are seen as a unit displacedfrom the introduction? Conversely, if vv. 19-22 are original, how do we account for marked change of tone present so that instead of the seemingly bucolic reflections found in vv. 1-18 the text then shifts to an imprecation against the wicked? This paper proposes a unified reading of the psalm which uses ambiguity as a central technique for developing different experiences for those who pray this psalm within the subgroup of the prayers of the accused. It will be argued that ambiguity is an intentional compositional strategy within the psalm, with the effect of the ambiguity different for those who read the poem from the perspective of innocence as opposed to the experience of those who read from the perspective of guilt. <![CDATA[<b>The Canonical Shape of Psalms 1-14</b>]]> This article seeks to demonstrate the logic of the arrangement of Psalms 1-14. It does so inductively by working through each psalm in sequence in order to identify semantic patterns indicating intentional canonical shaping. It will be argued that Pss 1-2 establish the primary concern of the editors, namely the shape of the divine economy of salvation. The following psalms function to elucidate, develop, and further contextualise the reader's understanding of that economy. A herme-neutical key is provided by the surprising transition from Ps 2 to 3. <![CDATA[<b>La question du pauvre dans le premier psautier davidique, Psaumes 3-41, comme réponse à Proverbes 30,13-14</b>]]> Le premier psautier davidique correspond à une reaffirmation du Messie davidique et par la même occasion celle du Pauvre postexilique exploité auquel David est identifié par les titres des psaumes. La prise en compte du Pauvre est conforme à ['influence du livre des Proverbes et plus spécialement Proverbes 30,1-14 sur le premier livre du Psautier. La reference à l'Arche de Yahvé que David a fait monter à Jerusalem explique le rôle du Psaume 68 dans le premier livre du Psautier et au-delà celle du livre des Nombres. The first Book of the Davidic Psalms corresponds to a reaffirmation of the Davidic Messiah. Similarly, they correspond to exploitation of the postexilic poor in which David is identified in the titles of the psalms. By taking into account the poor in the first book of the Psalter, the first book reveals the influence of the Book of Proverbs, especially Prov 30,1-14. The reference to the Ark of Yahweh that David moved to Jerusalem, explains the role Psalm 68 played in the first book of the Psalms as well as in the Book of Numbers. <![CDATA[<b>Darkness as an Anthropological Space: Perspectives Induced by Psalms 88 and 139 on the Themes of Death, Life and the Presence of YHWH</b>]]> In this article an intertextual comparison is made between Pss 88 and 139 on the theme and use of the concept of "darkness." In the meta-narrative of the shape and shaping of the Psalter, these two psalms are counterpointed to each other. Psalm 88 is traditionally viewed as an individual lament of a person who is sick, dying or facing death. Darkness is a prominent theme in this psalm, with a situation of hopelessness in the exilic period. In contrast, darkness is portrayed differently in Psalm 139, where a different message for the post-exilic period is presented in the meta-narrative. Psalm 139, from the perspective of YHWH as creator, can be interpreted as a ritual or individual meditative confession after some sort ofpossible trial period. To gain a better understanding on the use of darkness in these two psalms, the theme is analysed from the perspective of anthropological space. <![CDATA[<b></b><b>„</b><b>Asaph Meets Hosea" Verbindungen zwischen Hosea-Schrift und Asaph-Psalmen, ausgehend von </b><b>„</b><b>Kriegsbogen"-Formulierungen</b>]]> Ausgehend von der virulenten Fragestellung nach der Intertextualität, ihren Möglichkeiten, Methoden und Herausforderungen, werden die Belege des (Kriegs-)Bogens (ΓιΌϊρ) in den Asaph-Psalmen (Ps 76; 78) und in der Hosea-Schrift (Hos 1-2; 7) einer vergleichenden Analyse unterzogen. Die Untersuchung zeigt weitgehende Übereinstimmungen und verweist auf ein gemeinsames, prophetisch-levitisch-nordreich-israelitisch geprägtes Umfeld. Wahrscheinlich sind die Bogen-Belege in den Asaph-Psalmen unter Kenntnis der Hosea-Stellen formuliert worden. Starting from the questioning of intertextuality, its possibilities, methods and challenges, the evidence of the (war) bow (ΓιΌϊρ) in the Asaph psalms (Ps 76; 78) and in the Hosea script (Hos 1-2; 7) is subjected to a comparative analysis. The study shows broad similarities and refers to a common prophetic-levitic-northern Israelite environment. Probably the arch documents in the Asaph psalms were formulated with knowledge of the Hosea passages. <![CDATA[<b>His Faithfulness is from Generation to Generation (Ps 100:5c): The Coherence of the Eleven Compositions Psalms 90-100</b>]]> Psalms 93-100 are almost generally considered an individual cycle of "Yhwh King-psalms." Here it is argued that Ps 100 is the concluding composition of a cycle consisting of eleven psalms which starts at Ps 90. This major cycle is composed of two sub-cycles of five psalms, Pss 90-94 and Pss 96-100, which frame a pivotal composition of eleven poetic lines, Ps 95. The rhetorical design of the main cycle is determined by content and severalformalfeatures. The latter rhetorical means include the use of meaningful numbers like 7, 11, 26, and the strategic positioning of unique significant vocabulary as guide lexemes. <![CDATA[<b>Reading Psalm 112 as a "Midrash" on Psalm 111</b>]]> Psalms 111 and 112 are "twin" poems displaying similar characteristics such as the superscript •––• ••, an acrostic form, and shared vocabulary. Surprisingly, the shared characteristics are noted, but the poems often interpreted in isolation. Ps 111 is classified as a hymn or a song of thanksgiving and Ps 112 as a wisdom poem. The prominent presence of so-called "wisdom terminology" in Ps 112 plays a major role in its classification, while the presence of similar terminology in Ps 111 is ignored. The present study engages in an intertextual reading of the two poems. They are read as an intentional, artistic literary composition. Following Michael Fishbane's notion of inner-biblical exegesis, I argue that Ps 112 is an intentional "midrash" on Ps 111, and that the pair should be read as a composition in the context of the late Torah-wisdom redaction of the Psalter in general and Book V of the Psalter in particular. <![CDATA[<b>The Role of Psalms 135-137 in the Shape and Shaping of Book V of the Hebrew Psalter</b>]]> Book V of the Psalter (Pss 107-150) is an interesting collection of psalms. After the openingPs 107, celebrating God's rescue of humanity from various dangerous situations, psalms attributed to David appear again after a virtual absence since Book II. These Davidic psalms (Pss 108-110 and 138-145) "frame" a grouping offestival psalms that are introduced by two brief alphabetic acrostics (Pss 111 and 112). Seemingly tucked away just after the Songs of Ascents (Pss 120-134), and before the resumption of psalms of David, lie Psalms 135-137, two magnificent community hymns followed by a heartfelt community lament. This essay explores the role of these psalms in the "shape " and "shaping" of the story of the Psalter. It will conclude that the psalms offer a highly stylized recitation of Israel's history that made a worldfor the postexilic community, recounting Yahweh's work in creation, summarizing the Pentateuchal stories of the ancestors (Pss 135-136) and providing a snapshot of exilic life in Babylon (Ps 137). Their assurance of Yahweh's presence and provisions allow David, in Psalms 138-145, to lead the postexilic people in blessing, praise, and thanks to the sovereign God. <![CDATA[<b>"Land" as a Topic in the Book of Psalms?</b>]]> This essay focuses on land conceptions in the Psalter, dealing with Psalms reflecting on Israel's history regard land as an integral part of remembrance and YHWH as a powerful and mighty saviour. As he was able to fulfil his promise of land in former times, he is now able to rescue from distress and to grant land for the psalmist's and subsequent generations. The essay distinguishes between a universal-cosmologic and a particular conception of "land". Whereas a universal-cosmologic understanding is prevailing, few psalms refer to a particular understanding (i.e., Pss 25; 37; 61; 69). These psalms witness to a conception of "land as reward" in tight connection to a God-fearing life. This thesis of "land as reward" suggests a "metaphorical" application of the concept; further it is accompanied with notions of Zion theology and the theology of poor and poverty. <![CDATA[<b>The East Syriac Psalm Headings in Manuscript 18>8dt1: Manchester, John Rylands Library, Rylands Syriac Manuscript 4<sup><a href="#back_fn1"></a></sup></b>]]> Manuscript 18>8dt1 dates from AD 1727 and was copied from an earlier Eastern manuscript, now lost. The oldest manuscript that contains the East Syriac headings is 6t1, a Western manuscript with Western orthography. The oldest Eastern manuscripts that contain these headings date from the twelfth century. The John Rylands manuscript contains the headings in a form 400 years older than the oldest of the other Eastern manuscripts, giving new insight into the history of these headings. The value of this manuscript can be judged when its headings are compared to those in 6t1 and 12t4. Many headings have shorter and longer versions. This paper explores the place of 18>8dt1 in the history of the East Syriac Psalm headings to demonstrate the originality of many of the readings in this manuscript. The conclusion is the headings in 6t1 cannot always be regarded as reflecting the original headings. <![CDATA[<b>Authorship, Authority and Attribution: Children's Bibles, David and Psalms</b>]]> Historically, Bibles for children are dynamic and remarkably diverse interpretive vehicles. The Bibles give preference to the context of the immediate reading communities above that of the canonical source text and they are therefore highly responsive to change. They tend to delimit the Bible to a selection of the narrative sections considered child appropriate, thus excluding poetry, including psalms and wisdom literature. This article compares popular examples of children's Bibles from two distinct traditions (Jewish American children's Bibles and Afrikaans children's Bibles). It remarks upon the manner in which a return of psalms in some present-day children's Bibles takes place, arguing that a tradition of Davidic attribution is significant for thinking of children's Bibles as embedded firmly in existing traditions of Bible interpretation. Their relevance to modern readerships, the deceptive simplicity of textual engagement and its close alliance to the everyday warrant our attention and the focus of our study beyond the scope of religious pedagogy. <![CDATA[<b>Restating the Psalter's Perspectives on Divine Justice in Philosophical Terms</b>]]> Prominent 20th-century Old Testament theologians have offered comparative-philosophical restatements of the Psalter's perspectives on YHWH's justice in descriptive metaphysical terms. A variety of philosophical idioms were used to affirm/deny that justice was an attribute (or similar) of the divine nature (or similar) or instead predicated of or exemplified in divine functions and/or relations. In this article the associated trend in the research is identified and briefly discussed with reference to representative cases. This is followed by an overview of how concepts, concerns and categories in the analytic philosophy of properties can be used to update, refine and expand the explanatory framework for discussing related texts in the Book of Psalms on their own terms, even if not in them. <![CDATA[<b>The Psalms' Ancient Musicality, Later Musical Reception and Bono's Psalmic Spirituality</b>]]> The link between the biblical Psalms and musicality is explored in this contribution. The interpretative engagement with texts as much as with music is indicated en route to taking a position on whether an authentic, accurate rendition of the ancient musicality of the Psalms can be recouped. Some instances of reception of the Psalms in classical, rock and electronic music genres are given, with greater attention devoted to influential rock star Bono's reflection on the role of Psalms and other music in shaping spirituality. <![CDATA[<b>Book Reviews / Boek Resensies</b>]]> The link between the biblical Psalms and musicality is explored in this contribution. The interpretative engagement with texts as much as with music is indicated en route to taking a position on whether an authentic, accurate rendition of the ancient musicality of the Psalms can be recouped. Some instances of reception of the Psalms in classical, rock and electronic music genres are given, with greater attention devoted to influential rock star Bono's reflection on the role of Psalms and other music in shaping spirituality.