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Write a brief critical introduction to the book of Psalms.

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Introduction

Write a brief critical introduction to the book of Psalms Introduction Martin Luther wrote that the Psalms are like "a little Bible, and the summary of the Old Testament" (Dillard & Longman III 1995, p.227). The Psalms are a collection of 150 individual compositions, which like the rest of the Old Testament, do not appear to be systematically ordered and whose content spans a vast period of time, written by many different authors. In the whole collection, there seems to be a Psalm for every occasion of human life in ancient Israel. Indeed, one cannot read the Psalms without being impressed by the "humanness" and literary beauty of them. In regard to the title of this essay, to call the Psalms a single book is somewhat misleading. The Psalms are only a book in so far as being a collection book, itself containing five collection books, arranged so that each book ends with a doxology (at 41:13, 72:18-19, 89:52, 106:48, 150) (USCCB 2002, p. 1 cf. Gawrisch 1981, p. 15). The Psalms take their place in the ???????????(the Writings) part of the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew name for the Book of Psalms is ?????????????????or simply ??????????. This masculine plural is not found in the text of the Psalms themselves, but is a Talmudic form. The regular plural of ??????????is ??????????. ??????????is translated "a song of praise." The book of Psalms may not have always been known as ?????????????????. ...read more.

Middle

Being influenced by the Scandinavian Myth and Ritual school of interpretation (which held that religious texts were used in worship to re-enact significant religious experiences and ideas), he attempted to classify about 43 of the Psalms to the class known as "Enthronement Songs". He assumed that Israel's worship was something parallel to the yearly Mesopotamian Akitu (New Year) Festival which celebrated the rule of the Mesopotamian king, who at the festival, represented the god Marduk, head of the pantheon. Mowinckel envisioned an annual New Year celebration in Israel whereby the Hebrew king would represent YHWH and be re-enthroned at the start of the year, to celebrate both human and divine rule over Israel. (Dillard & Longman III 1995, p. 218; cf. Wilson 1999, p. 5; Gawrisch 1981, p. 33). Mowinckel's work served to open up academic thought to the possibility that the Psalms were somehow collected for use in temple worship. However, his reasoning for this was faulty, and lacked any explicit evidence. While providing the first and classic attempt to place the psalms in the context of a single festival, few people would follow Mowinckel today. The lack of evidence for such festival in biblical tradition, combined with the tenuous nature of the evidence from within the Psalter, lead most to reject this approach. It appears to be an imposition of Mesopotamian religious thought onto the biblical world. (Dillard & Longman III 1995, p. ...read more.

Conclusion

Gawrisch 1981 pp. 5-7; USCCB 2002, p. 1). Traditionally, the titles have been understood to designate authorship. However the Hebrew language demands heavily upon immediate context, and the inseparable preposition, ???can be translated "by," "of," "about," "for," and possibly "according to the style of". This gave reason, to those scholars who stuck rigidly to an evolutionary view of Israel's religion, and who rejected the notion of such elevated expressions of piety found in the Psalms existing as early as David's reign, to doubt Davidic authorship of those Psalms traditionally attributed to him. However, this view is rare today because we know more about ancient poetry from other Semitic cultures (Dillard & Longman III 1995, p. 215). It is, of course, also impossible to prove that David wrote or had some input into each psalm attributed to him, but with the biblical tradition surrounding his interest in and involvement with music, it is not inconceivable. Also, one example of ???being used definitely to denote authorship, is in Habukkuk 3, where we find a prayer of the prophet Habukkuk, with the above inseparable preposition logically having to mean a prayer "by", not "about", or "according to the style of" Habukkuk. Conclusion In conclusion, the historical background of the Psalms as a whole and as individual psalms remain very much elusive. The Psalms were dynamic, expanding and changing during the time of their composition and collection, and, at least in the forms we have today, are historically non-specific, which made them very useful in Israel's worship, and in the worship of Jews and Christians today. ...read more.

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