Stephen Breck Reid

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

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The location of a book in the canon gives the reader clues to the genre and interpretation of the book. The Jewish canon places the poetry of the book of Psalms as the introduction to the division of the bible known as the Ketubim (writings). The Christian canon(s) place the Psalter between Job and Proverbs, accenting the Psalms’ place among the wisdom texts. Scholarly consensus understands the Psalter as a collection of collections of sung poetic prayers that range over a wide period of authorship, provenance, and redaction. Associated with ongoing worship in Israel, most psalms were continually reapplied to new situations. The earliest psalms antedate the period when Israel and Judah were ruled by an indigenous king, the monarchy (1030–583 bce), and the latest are from the period defined by the cultural and political hegemony of Greece, the Hellenistic period (323–63 bce). The book of Psalms functioned as the prayer book of the second temple period (521 bce–66 ce) and the repository of poetic instruction. The first audience of the completed book is the emerging population of what was then the Persian province of Yehud during this period. Prior to the rise of form criticism in the early 20th century, scholarship focused on the Psalms as expressions of individual religious poets, much as Keats, Dickinson, or Countee Cullen. Form criticism shaped by the work of Herman Gunkel focused on the social location of the various literary genres in the cult. However, form critics still approached the Psalter as assemblage or medley without structure or order. During the mid-20th century a focus emerged with an interest in the shape and shaping of the Psalter. The rise of postmodernity has led some to pursue a post-Gunkel approach to the Psalter.

Article.  13944 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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