“The Songs of Ascents: a decentralised hermeneutic for
vangelical spiritual formation”
A paper presented by John C. Douglas at ANZABS 2007 Conference, Auckland, New Zealand
Paul offers this paper background when he defines, ―
all Scripture as God-breathedand is useful for the formation of faith (teaching, rebuking, correcting and training inrighteousness)
. In so doing he is commending the broad value of First Testament canon tothe young faith community. In this paper I humbly (and nervously) propose the samecommendation through some hermeneutical consideration in the Songs of Ascents to thegrowing field of evangelical spiritual formation.In view of our title, I will now proceed by considering the views of several exegeticalschools of thought
regarding the Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120-134) as pilgrim hymnal;including describing their use-environment within Jerusalem festival. This group of Psalmsform the collection known as the "Songs of Ascents," which in turn is a major part of theGreat Hallel psalms (120-136). An exact meaning of the designation, "songs of ascents" isunclear, whether they are name as the former or as "Pilgrim Songs," "Song of Degrees," or "Gradual Psalms."
However the ascent identification rests primarily in the superscription to
each psalm in the collection, with a secondary contribution being ascent as the ―going up to
Jerusalem (which stands high above the sea level and much of the land of Israel)
he consideration of these perspectives will engage a limited weighing up of
II Timothy 3:16
In the early Christian period two main ―schools‖ dominated. Antioch School of Exegesis, the
theological institution in Syria, traditionally founded in about CE200, stressed the literal interpretation of thescriptures and the completeness of Christ's humanity, in opposition to the Exegetical School of Alexandriawhich emphasized the allegorical interpretation of the scriptures and stressed Christ's divinity. See page 8.
VanGemeran, Willem A.
Psalms in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary
Ed. Gaebelein, Frank E.(volume 5). Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988.p.256.
See Matthew 20:17 cf Psalms 24:3; 122:4 for described or implied geographic going-up.