Sunday, 30 December 2012

Structure and Theology of Psalms 15-24

An essay of mine of the subject of the title will be published by Biblica in 2013. Here's my conclusion:
Conclusion: Structure and Theology in Psalms 15–24
This article has sought to contribute to our understanding of the final form of Pss 15–24 by drawing our attention to significant features of its structure and thematic arrangement and by analysing these elements in terms of Brunner-Traut’s theory of ancient “aspective” perception. The initial observation that Pss 15–24 consists of a chiasm set up the framework for identifying sets of inter-psalm relationships. The theory of semantic intensification as a characteristic of Biblical parallelism helped us identity a series of consistent semantic shifts between the parallel psalms within this arrangement: In short, the content of each psalm was consistently set within a more developed theological context. Finally, Brunner-Traut’s thesis that juxtaposition functions to elucidate a single reality helped us identify the presence of a single pattern underlying the diversity and thereby unifying it, namely the eschatological narrative of God’s consummation of creation by bringing his righteous king, and with him the people of whom he is a type and for whom he is a redeemer, into the reality across the threshold of his temple.
When read on their own as self-contained units, this theological context escapes the reader’s attention. When read with an eye for unifying thematic arrangement, however, we can begin to see how the editors of this collection perceived its fragmentary elements to cohere within a greater theological reality that encompassed their own day and age, namely the divine economy. In short, the bridge between the past and present was ontological, for it was grounded in God’s unchanging ways. If my reading holds any water, then it can help us understand the ways in which Israel’s literary heritage was shaped in order to function as scripture for future generations of the faithful. In its interplay between the framing psalms of theological orientation (Pss 15; 19; 24) and those dominated by disorientation and reorientation (Pss 16–18; 20–23), future readers were provided with a means for contextualizing their own faithful struggle, regardless of their shifting historical, cultural, and institutional contexts. 


Bob MacDonald said...

"future readers were provided with a means for contextualizing their own faithful struggle"

yes - I think this sentence captures a part of the purpose of the Psalter.

Have you a publication date for your article? Could I, and if so how could I reference your article in my forthcoming book? Gray deals with these psalms briefly in her dissertation on Psalm 18. (Gray, Alison. (2012). Psalm 18 in Words and Pictures: A Reading Through Metaphor.)

Phil Sumpter said...

Hi Bob,

I just know that it will be the third edition in 2013, so towards the end of the year.

Thanks for the reference to Gray; I just focused on article length treatments.

Caio en Dorothee Peres said...

What about your monograph, is it going to be published? This conclusion sounded great. Congratulations.

Phil Sumpter said...


it'll be published sometime towards the end of 2013. It's for Biblica, which means you'll be able to read it for free on the Internet (that's a major plus for the journal, in my view).