Saturday, October 2, 2010

Problems and Prospects in Psalmic Studies

Bring with joy your offerings to my house (Hossfeld's introductory statement for this lecture).

This is the final lecture though I may add some comments on the Student papers from their abstracts later - especially as they might indicate something about the future of Psalms study.

Presenter: Frank-Lothar Hossfeld - a happy person who had noted some points in the very short Q and A sessions when the students were presenting. I had lunch opposite him before his presentation. Then after his presentation, when we had no more time for questions, I mentioned my motivation for study of the psalms from the way they are used in Hebrews as the dialogue between the Father and the Son - and he was most happy to hear this as a motivation to study. Happy is the one to whom the Lord allows study and correction through the Psalter.

Aside: judging from a reading I was doing in the book that arose from the St Andrews conference on Hebrews and Christian Theology, I think it may have been Harold Attridge that I overheard pointing out the psalms as dialogue between the Father and the Son. His final paragraph in his essay is filled with this metaphor.

From the abstract: ... Since the 1980s [post form criticism and Gunkel], psalm and Psalter exegesis has been linked to this method but also exceeds it and has taken into account lectio continua and thus reading the collection of psalms as a Book. In this regard, every psalm has an intra-textual meaning as well as an inter-textual meaning within the context of different groups of psalms and collections. .. In order to explore the message of the psalms as well as the psalter one needs to take into consideration both the synchronic and diachronic dimensions of the text.... the aim is to indicate 1) theologically fundamental ideas throughout the different phases on the growth process and 2) leading ideas throughout the final shape of the Psalter - for example: the movement from lamentation to praise; the presentation of the history of Israel in the subdivision into 5 books; the relationship of the psalms to the temple as well as to Zion / Jerusalem; the relationship of the kingdom of God to the earthly king in Israel; the relevance of the piety of the poor.

In the Enlightenment, everything came into question. Skepticism was the order ot the day. Hossfeld made three points against the gattungkritik of Gunkel -
  1. a few are already 1 form but are separated from context,
  2. form prejudices the exegete, not only anthropology but also theology is to be seen in them,
  3. the collection bears the impact of an orderly mind.
So: position sitz im buch determines the contextual meaning. (I am so sorry for the German - some terms you know are just untranslatable.) So also there is a Byblos Psalmus, a Sepher Tehillim, a Psalterium, a Torah of David, the Domus Magna of Jerome (and Bob's art gallery). So we must look for links between psalms, twins, clusters, collective superscriptions, groups e.g. 29 in 25-35 or 93-100 (also see my many summaries from the past three months.) There is a meaning as a whole (Wilson 1985 a complex literary structure) but also diachrony corrects synchrony.
From 2010-10-02
Aside: I was reading extensively this afternoon in Suzanne Haik Vantoura 1994  (and a later book, Braun, Music in Ancient Israel, that seemed to know very little about her claims though her book was in the bibliography). SHV comes to the conclusion that all the psalms were written by David because of the unifying effect of the music she has with some justification reconstructed. Let me ask you - can you write in the style of the 16th century? or of Bach? we were all taught to. So the claim of the school of Ibn Ezra is not justified by an equal music. Nonetheless I am delighted with SHV - her work is exactly the process of observation and deduction and confirmation with which I would approach a complex set of application programs.

Remaining notes from Hossfeld - Psalm 104 begins the praise words that are used to the end. Zion as the scene of the Psalter - the place of origin of Torah and prophesy, 75 psalms - God in Zion is a force - is it the mountain? the city? the temple? There is no Zion in Ezekiel. What is its relation to Jerusalem? national vs Zion universal?

Aside: Some of his talk was in German so I missed it - more than a few words. But one little bit he translated as the oscillating centre of dynamic creation of theology. O that we should learn to communicate simply. I was reading John Webster this afternoon and reading the Barth conference over the past week - so many words!

A deceptive cadence: Is Adonai king or is there a human king? The messianic subordinated to the theocratic? Is David an archetype?  After Psalm 89 there is no human king. Psalm 101 continues the themes of psalms 15 and 24. (I had been asking myself where this stepping stone was to 119.)

Finally - his last statements - The new song is already in the Old Testament. Psalms is theology in dialogue with invitation to all who read. No new psalter was written as echo to the appearance of the Son of God. The strongest bridge in the Jewish-Christian dialogue - (Conflict and Convergence being the theme of this conference) is the Psalter.

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