Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Psalm Frames again

Beloved, this is a very interesting exercise even with the 5 to 10 % questionable results in my pile of deframed psalms.  Look again at the image in yesterday's post which I have updated.

Now there are vertical red lines for every 10 psalms, and blue for the 50 boundary, and green for the book boundaries. I am intrigued that there are new words used as frames in almost every psalm. Does this speak to a deliberate sorting of the poems? If the poems were grouped by similar frames, then there would be chunks which hung together. If the poets used fewer frames, then at some point say around psalm 100, new frames would stop. I note though that one can count the vertical gaps - there are 33 psalms that do not introduce a new frame beginning at psalm 43 (which doesn't really count since it it a continuation of psalm 42). So every poem up to psalm 47 introduces at least one new pairing of words that may be a frame. Psalm 47 doesn't introduce a new frame. Psalm 131 has a frame (גמל) I missed but curiously it is not new - but anticipated in Psalm 116:7 and 12  - though it is not obvious.

Mind you - some of the repeated words also may not be significant from a structural point of view. Only a further detailed analysis - and this to be manual over the next two months - will show this. I have seen a number of books on these sorts of structure, e.g. Girard, Marc, Les psaumes redécouverts, and Magonet, A Rabbi reads the Psalms. Girard and Magonet concentrate on individual psalms. Are there others who might have taken this kind of approach to reading the whole psalter as a book? (I see that a search for "psalter as a book" gets a lot of relevant hits.)

I note also from this morning when I was reading Psalm 7, that several of the frame words in the first 6 psalms are used once in psalm 7, linking the 'picture' in this psalm with what has gone before. I can't yet see whether this is just the normal use of language or a significant statement (as for instance the citation in Psalm 149 that joins this Psalm to Psalm 2 - see Journal for the Study of the Old Testament - An Integrated Reading of Psalms 1 and 2 - by Robert Cole).