Music fans in the 21
century are increasingly faced with a dilemma. Do wepurchase individual songs that resonate with our taste, or do we recognise theintention of the band behind the music, and enjoy their song as placed withinan album. Albums are carefully arranged, charting the development of aconcept or idea, where the contribution of individual songs is greater than thesum of its parts. Outside of the album the song is still a song, but itssignificance is diminished.This musical dilemma is analogous to approaching the Psalms, the traditionalapproach to the Psalter was to treat each Psalm as a divinely inspired song,modeling responses to God in various human situations.
Traditional Biblicalscholarship saw the Psalms as individual units, placed next to each other in asomewhat arbitrary, or unclear,
Critical scholarship also takesPsalms individually,
so both traditional and critical approaches fail toconsider the evidence for the deliberate ordering and shaping of the Psalms asa book.
In recent times, canonical scholars have viewed the Psalter is a book,
See, for example, the approaches of Calvin, Luther, and Augustine in the works referencedabove.
See Augustine quote above.
J.H Walton, ‘Psalms: A Cantata About the Davidic Covenant,’
Journal for the EvangelicalTheological Society
, 34/1, (March 1991), 21-31, 21
W. Brueggemann, ‘Bounded by Obedience and Praise: The Psalms as Canon,’
Journal forStudy of the Old Testament
, 50 (1991) 63-92, 63, The Psalter is perhaps the only Old Testament book that traditional and critical scholarship approached in the same manner; by breaking itinto pieces.
G. Wenham, ‘Towards a Canonical Reading of the Psalms,’
Canon and Biblical Interpretation,
Scripture & Hermeneutics Series, Vol 7, ed. C. Bartholemew, S. Hahn, R. Parry, C. Seitz, A.Wolters, (Milton Keynes, Paternoster Press, 2006), 333-334, Form critical scholarship treatedthe Psalms individually as historical artefacts representative of an underlying tradition,taking a “history of religions” perspective, focused the traditions or historical events behindindividual “songs,” W. Brueggemann, ‘Bounded by Obedience and Praise,’63 suggests bothcritical and traditional scholarship tended towards considering Psalms individually, withlittle regard to literary context. R. D. Anderson, ‘The Division and Order of the Psalms,’
Westminster Theological Journal
, 56 (1994) 219-41, 219, says Form critics, following Gunkel, hadpreviously attempted to consider Psalms by
with little consideration as to where aPsalm sat in the book, seeking cultic origins or historical events behind these genres andindividual Psalms. Also, D.J.A Clines, ‘Psalm Research Since 1955: The Psalms and the Cult,’
18, (1967) 103-126, 103-104
This has been the popular scholarly view of the Psalms since G.H Wilson’s dissertation andassociated publications, for example G.H Wilson, ‘The Qumran Psalms Manuscripts and theConsecutive Arrangement of Psalms in the Hebrew Psalter,’
The Catholic Biblical Quarterly
, 45,(1983), 377-388, scholars since Wilson have accepted his initial hypothesis, but rejectedelements of his argument, and developed his conclusions. See, for example, D.C Mitchell,Lord Remember David: G.H Wilson and the Message of the Psalter
LVI, 4,(Leiden, Brill, 2006), 526-548, 548, Mitchell suggests Wilson tries to hold too many tensionstogether to create a sapiential purpose for the Psalter rather than an eschatological/Messianicpurpose, and that his conclusions are also drawn on a flawed reading of the evidence.