Alastair Hunter

in The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199544486
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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Compared with the narrative sections of Scripture, the psalms pose a more daunting challenge to literary readings in current times. The poetic themes and tropes of the psalter and the linguistic devices they deploy do not make them particularly accessible to a modern ear, even for those still familiar with them through their presence in Christian worship and the liturgy of the synagogue. The question of translation intrudes much more forcefully than for literature with a more directly semantic intention. Though the prophetic and wisdom books are also composed, broadly speaking, using the conventions of poetry, the translator/interpreter has more to pin his or her hopes on than the poem itself. The choice of which biblical translation to read from remains, and can make a significant difference. This article describes this particular aspect of the literariness of the psalms, which has been handled in recent decades.

Keywords: Scripture; psalms; wisdom books; Christian worship; biblical translation

Article.  7352 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Christianity ; Religious Studies

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