The Psalms

Dawes, Stephen
SCM (2010)
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Stephen Dawes bases his comprehensive survey of The Psalms around eight examples, each given a chapter, which typify a "voice", namely:

Around each discussion of a particular psalm he discusses others in the same genre and then interweaves a bewildering variety of material including tributes to the great scholars of the Psalter, difficulties of translation, the problems of poetic rendition, questions of authorship and sourcing, the use of Psalms in Temple worship and the place of Psalms in the formation of what tentatively might be called Jewish theology. He concludes with a chapter on contemporary scholarship, featuring intertextuality, reader response and the question of whether the Psalter should be considered as a holistic book or a collection of disparate material. Like all the works in the SCM series it strikes a judicious balance between the professional and the lay and it is a cracking good read, turning up fascinating nuggets on almost every page.

Dawes would be better off settling on a taxonomy of Psalms from which he could then have selected his favourite example and then gone on to include his other fascinating material but his inability to do this arises from his near obsession with Psalm classification which runs as an under-current throughout the whole book without reaching any satisfactory conclusion. Nonetheless, this organisational irritant is soon overcome by the weight and quality of his material which is accompanied by a truly outstanding bibliography.