The Psalms

Dawes, Stephen, The Psalms (SCM, 2010)

Although Dawes is extremely cautious about classifying Psalms into categories, he exemplifies various "voices" in 8 Psalms:

Psalm 150 - Praise. It might be useful to consider Walter Bruggemann on the act of praise while considering this Psalm; praise is, he says:

(Bruggemann, Walter: Praise and the Psalms: A Politics of Glad Abandonment in: The Psalms and the Life of Faith (1995).

Psalm 23 - Shalom. In this Psalm the idea of rightness is critical:

Psalm 74 - Dissonance or Lamentation. Such sentiments account for more than 1/3 of the Psalms:

Psalm 51 - Penitence. Various authors identify seven penitential psalms:

Psalm 8 - Hope. This word radically changes its meaning through time:

Psalm 1 - Spirituality. In one way or another, all the Psalms may be said to express spirituality but those most concerned with it relate to wisdom:

Psalm 103 - Theology. There is extreme controversy among scholars as to whether there is a systematic theology in the Old Testament:

The following are some useful general points in Dawes (to be read in conjunction with the related study sheets - see below):

  1. Hebrew poetry is constructed with two parallel or reinforcing ideas in the verse (synonymous and antithetical parallelism). Only the acrostic Psalms (cf Psalm 119) have stanzas.
  2. The version of Psalms arrived at by the Hebrew tradition dates from the 6th-9th Century CE, the first extant version with vowels in the Moscow Codex 1008-9 CE. There are Psalms outside this book and fragments of Psalms scattered through the Hebrew tradition.
  3. There is controversy over whether the compilation was deliberate or simply the result of layers of tradition.

KC X./11

Related Study Sheets…