Friday, September 30, 2011

Recent posts on Poetry of Christ

I continue my 10 posts per month at the disciplined and now scheduled blog here. I am up to psalm 85 and am beginning to imagine a new idea for the organization of the Psalter: who gets to the Holy Place.  What if the Psalter is a series of progressions concerning this question?  Thoughts?  As I work out how to write a short book on the psalms, I am thinking this might provide a theme worth following. It would encompass worship, all uses of קדשׁ, i.e. the holy hill, holiness itself, the sanctuary, the Holy One, the place of Zion, and the city, which gets its last mention in psalm 139.

Thinking out loud - what are the progressions:

  1. the first is from psalm 1-7, leading to psalm 8, celebrated by the attempted acrostic 9-10
  2. the second is to psalm 15, leading to psalm 16, progressing through to 19 and 24, celebrated by the acrostic 25
  3. the third ...
  4. the inner cells from 42 to 106 need further thought from me on this theme. Perhaps they are a failure of the progression of human government ...
  5. Psalm 107 has much to say of the general human condition and the city as haven.
  6. the next sequence is to psalm 110, celebrated by the acrostics 111, 112
  7. the next sequence is to psalm 118, and the adoration of the acrostic 119
  8. then there are the steps to the Holy in the Psalms of the Ascents 
  9. then do we have another progression to psalm 139?
  10. the ultimate progression towards praise continues. Does 144 have a special role that it should be followed by the acrostic 145? Or does the final acrostic stand as a celebration of the whole formational process of the Psalter.
As I do my next work through of Books 2 to 4, I will be looking for clues...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One-trick pony

I am sure you all know that over the past 5 years, I have concentrated as a one-trick pony learning and perseverating on the psalms. Before that I had done quite a bit of work on Paul and the Gospels. The other day our Bible Study read the opening of Chronicles and then the epistle to Titus - O those Cretans! and genealogies (Titus 3:9)! Disputes etc.  The author of Titus does not read to me like Paul - not in any translation I have.

This morning I saw a new book on science and religion.  The author is a retired cosmologist and an Anglican. It's hard to produce a book, I know. But can one say something that will be helpful? I don't know. I haven't read this yet. It seems to me to be an important subject that shouldn't get in the way. Another dispute that distracts. I don't think my God is a God of the gaps.  I can't be objective. That requires me to be Escher-like and play the inside and outside in the same image. And it's still an image.  When we've learned time travel, and know as we are known, and are as grave as gravity, maybe we'll be like the self-emptying God we have glimpsed in the death of Jesus (Philippians 2:7) and known through the Spirit (Romans 8:13).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Christmas 1997 - Turkey (no not the bird)

Here's some old news - written 14 years ago (edited slightly) for Kurk

No news! A normal year for us for the first time since January 1990. As the Turks say (speaking of our years 1990-1996), Geçmis(h) olsun - may it be in your past.

The year in review. Kirkegaard said most thoughtfully - "we live forwards but understand backwards". Physicists may say that their laws work as well regardless of the direction of time, but we are none the less its apparent prisioners forward. We appear "for a moment and then are gone", (James 4:14) leaving a unique trace in the space-time hologram (Bob 13:2).

So this year had departings: Three of us (Simon from Montreal, Sarah from Halifax, and Bob from Victoria) began the year with the grand Eastern Townships funeral of our sister Diana's husband, Derek. What a sendoff - the whole town and all the surrounding countryside of Brome was in attendance. Bob had not been able to get to the too recent funeral in 1996 of another brother-in-law, Gib Allen, former chief surgeon at the Belleville Hospital and former Reeve of Tweed (following in the steps of our sister Barbara, his wife). More of the whole family was at Derek's funeral than at any other time in recent history - since our sister Janet's death at age 9 almost 33 years to the day earlier.

There was another departing in September as our Rector and friend, Bob MacRae retired from the parish after 20 years. We really have to get used to departings, don't we? Just a week ago, we went to Bob's 65th birthday party in Vancouver.

But I lied - there is news.

  • Sarah has gone back to Cambridge where she and Marcus are both tutoring and she is assistant organist at Great St Mary's and graduate organ scholar at Robinson College. This is the continuation of a good beginning - as the Turks say - Saatlun olsun - may it last for hours, (meaning in this case may it last for ever).
  • Jeremy recovers steadily; he has been back at work since March, and has just purchased a second hand jeep. Bas(h)inig sag() olsun - may his life be spared. (I can't find the Turkish keys on this keyboard!)
  • Simon has finished the academic requirements for his master's in violin performance. Afiyet olsun - may it contribute to his health.
  • And James has just been given 15 months of compulsory free room and board in northern Alberta. Canlnlz sag() olsun - may his soul be safe from harm.
  • Diana soldiers on alone as manager of the GVYO, her co-manager, Sue MacRae having accompanied her husband to Vancouver.
  • Bob has created a new framework for software development, and continues research in first century history.

That's the real news. I know several of you went to Turkey this year. So did we! And we spent a week in the Isles of Greece including three eternal days on Patmos. Some days in the hologram stand out - they really do last for ever. Some weeks, some holidays. Our three recent European trips are like that, and this one is built on the other two. Immediately as we left on holiday, we were there - time out of time in a villa in Turgutreis near ancient Halicarnassus, now Bodrum. We rented the villa from Gary Retzleff of Bishop's University, who recently completed a trip of the silk road journey from China to Turkey. We took day and overnight trips to many major historical sites on the west coast of Turkey.

What can I say about the hospitality, the carpets, the history, the food, the 20-cent loaves of bread, the architecture, the religion, the art - a feast for the heart, mind, and soul. There was a special character to the high roadside curbs. Having a cane was useful. Dogs and cattle guided us on two of our walks in the hills. We swam in the old Roman baths in Hieropolis (Pamukkale) while snow fell in this high country. Then we returned to the sunsets and more temperate weather on the coast. The weekly markets are personal and full of variety, truly a delight to the eyes. Bob's haircut was an experience of a lifetime. Three generations of sculptors hovered over him for the 1.5 hour operation. We bought four carpets! from Süleyman of Selçuk. His sign reads:

Buy from Süleyman or God hammer you!

He took us on a personally guided tour of the hill village of (S)irince where we met his friend with whom he had done military service. He fed us with yufka, a very thin dough, made by his mother and her sister over a open fire. He gave us home made soap, made by hand by his mother from olive pits. Oh Süleyman - how all this touches our hearts. It is like washing with the soap equivalent of gold. Please tell us how to make it. The recipe must be preserved and followed. We in the West have forgotten to live, we are in such a hurry. Our produce is mass produced, polished to boredom. When we finish our work, we don't know how to occupy ourselves. We labour over information, but communicate nothing of value. Oh Turks, do find yourselves, but do not imitate what is the worst of our traditions. Süleyman's carpets adorn the living room and dining room now in Victoria. They are precious - seemingly ageless, and a testimony to a beautiful craft that has spoken for millennia.

Bob and Sue MacRae joined us on our last week in Turkey. We went together to Greece where we read the Apocalyse out loud for a blessing on the very ground where it was written 1902 years ago. Here Bob (MacDonald) by the good graces of Mr. Loukas, got to sing with the cantors from the Orthodox parish of Scala - a special treat for one who reads neither Greek nor their musical notation. Mr Loukas guided us in the holy places. Father Simeone, a monk from the Monastery of St John the Theologian, was also our host. We will remember these days always as a very special gift to which these two men of our day gave a personal touch.

Something happened at the beginning of our era, friends, that has no parallel in space time. It has to do with the container of the hologram, Glory itself that is immanent everywhere and everywhen, turning our passing moments into Life. For a time, it too experienced the fulness of our artistic, sensual, and political life. We have seen traces of this Glory in the past year. The Apostle of the Glory walked in these places that we have walked in. [The Glory itself spoke in Greek in the cave of the Apocalypse. Ego eimi to alpha kai to o. (I am the alpha and the omega). It is said that the bays of Patmos make the shapes of these letters of the Greek alphabet.]

Friends, let us care for one another.

As the Turks say, S(h)erefinize - in your honour/to your health!

Bob and Diana MacDonald

Friday, September 23, 2011

Old cool graphics

Theology seems to me like a fractal sometimes, so I downloaded on my old xp machine a fractal generator from chaoscope - quite easy to use and come up with some interesting images.

So now I'm imagining picking up any single word and spinning it's 'formula' into a sentence, paragraph, or essay with examples about the theology in the Psalter. Possible?

So start with David. Will this eventually spin the royal purple? Or the place of the lilies. Yellow, perhaps. What about Korah and associates? Why are they surrounded by David? And the exile and the lament concerning the monarchy? Or the exile, wisdom, and the acrostics (all the acrostic poems suggest including Lamentations and Proverbs). And the response of Moses in Book 4. What is the shape and colour of the instruction? And what about the Teacher and the method of teaching?

And if we turn the fractal image and turn it again, it changes. So does our reflection on the history and text we have received.

Sir Philip Sydney and Mary Herbert

The act of writing poetry with a constraint goes well beyond 'meaning', and rhyme or pulse.

Here's a comparison of the Hebrew of Psalm 1 with the first poem in that stunning and wonderfully varied collection begun by Sir Philip Sydney and completed by his sister, Mary Herbert, and praised by John Donne.

Can you match the English to the Hebrew? Really quite an insight into the mind of the 16th century poet.

Psalm 1

BeatusVir

אַשְׁרֵי הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא הָלַךְ
בַּעֲצַת רְשָׁעִים
וּבְדֶרֶךְ חַטָּאִים לֹא עָמָד
וּבְמוֹשַׁב לֵצִים לֹא יָשָׁב
1He blessed is who neither loosely treads
the straying steps as wicked councel leads
Nor for bad mates in way of sinners waiteth
nor yet himself with idle scorners seateth
כִּי אִם בְּתוֹרַת יְהוָה חֶפְצוֹ
וּבְתוֹרָתוֹ יֶהְגֶּה יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה
2But on Gods law his whole delight doth bind
Which night and day he calls to marking mind
וְהָיָה כְּעֵץ
שָׁתוּל עַל פַּלְגֵי-מָיִם
אֲשֶׁר פִּרְיוֹ יִתֵּן בְּעִתּוֹ
וְעָלֵהוּ לֹא יִבּוֹל
וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר-יַעֲשֶׂה
 יַצְלִיחַ
3He shall be like a freshly planted tree
To which sweet springs of waters neighbours be
Whose branches fail not timely fruit to nourish
Nor withered leaf shall make it fail to flourish
So all the things whereto that man doth bend
Shall prosper still with well succeeding end
לֹא-כֵן הָרְשָׁעִים
כִּי אִם כַּמֹּץ אֲשֶׁר-תִּדְּפֶנּוּ רוּחַ
4Such blessing shall not wicked wretches see
But like wild chaff with wind shall scattered be
עַל-כֵּן לֹא-יָקֻמוּ רְשָׁעִים
בַּמִּשְׁפָּט
וְחַטָּאִים
 בַּעֲדַת צַדִּיקִים
5For neither shall the men in sin delighted
Consist when they to highest doom are cited
Ne yet shall suffered be their place to take
Where goodly men do their assembly make
כִּי-יוֹדֵעַ יְהוָה
דֶּרֶךְ צַדִּיקִים
וְדֶרֶךְ רְשָׁעִים
 תֹּאבֵד
6For God doth know and knowing doth approve
the trade of them that just proceedings love
but they that in sinfull breast do cherish
The way they go shall be their way to perish

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Weekly commentary

Sometimes I wonder if I should keep reading these. And then every now and then, what Hebb would call random reinforcement, a lovely piece comes along. In this one, I think it would be instructive to compare Jesus death with Moses death - maybe some day, based on all the suggestive hints in the derash - but not according as they might have been intended!

It's worth reading - how would you compare the death of Moses and the death of Jesus?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The whole story

What John Hobbins calls my magnificent obsession continues.  Here's the latest 'summary' with all the posts on the psalms.  Now I need to start thinking how to tell the story - who are the characters, what is the plot, purpose, what is the impact, the setting, etc.  Still wondering how to do this without writing a traditional commentary and yet another new translation. The date is the date I last changed the text of the translation. I have made other changes like adding notes or adjusting roots or prosodic form, but I didn't include those in the list.

LinkDate last changedTitle based on New FramesBrief
1 2011.08.25The way of the wicked and the righteousin which the main characters, wicked and righteous, are introduced, and the invitation to learn a fullness of joy in the judgement is offered
2 2011.09.10I introduce my king to the kings of the earthin which we find ourselves in the midst of a struggle, kings set against יְהוָה and his anointed, and the means of escape into a safe haven
32011.07.20A multitude of peoples rising, salvationhow the elect of יְהוָה lives in immediate and present trouble and requires both salvation and the consolation of the presence of יְהוָה.
42011.09.13I call, you hear : you offer, you trustin which יְהוָה rebukes the elect who affirms confidence for sleep and quiet communion.
5 2011.09.21My voice in the morning in youin which the character of יְהוָה is considered and the elect claims a place in the house and holy temple
62011.09.13My life vexed and shamed muchin which the prayer of the elect is suddenly answered and the result is fearful, but the prayer continues.
7 2011.09.13The judgement of toil and trouble establishedin which the persecuted, insisting that it is not appropriate to take responsibility for actions not committed, sees the reality of destruction as established
8 2011.09.13יְהוָה our Lord how majestic your name in all the earthin which we marvel at the reign of the child of dust over all the earth under the excellent name of the governor.
92011.09.13Sing a psalm perpetuallyin which we begin an acrostic declaring the fragility of the human
102011.09.13Value spurnedin which an incomplete acrostic, concerning the characters in the story: the criminal, the poor, the orphan, the hapless, and the crushed, is ended with a restored letter sequence when יְהוָה arises
11 2011.09.20Love tested to see the uprightin which we meet the beloved, the upright one in which יְהוָה is pleased
12 2011.07.22Lips and tongue divide the children of dustin which there is lament over the faithlessness and divisions of the children of dust
13 2011.09.13How long?in which there is an insistent query with intense desire concerning the state of a single individual among the children of dust
14 2011.09.19There is none good – they dread dreadin which we have insight concerning the general state of the children of dust and its dependency on the action of יְהוָה towards his people
152011.07.22A sevenfold nowith all stubborn and altogether abominable, who then among the children of dust can be complete in the tent of יְהוָה ?
16  2011.09.13The pleasures and the right handin which the elect reveals the tension inherent in the world and chooses the refuge, the portion, and the secure place of trust in which he or she will not be moved and where there is satisfaction of joys in the presence of יְהוָה
172011.09.21Satisfied with the ears and eyes of יְהוָהin which the poet, held and unmoved, knows judgement and, seeing the enemy as the hand of יְהוָה and the wicked as his sword, desires nothing but to awaken in the likeness of יְהוָה
182011.09.18The servant, complete, securein which passion for יְהוָה is revealed of a servant in the midst of death and destruction moved by gentleness and destined for greatness even though the enemies are too strong
19 2011.09.14Night to night even to the extremitiesin which we hear the silent promise of God that is everywhere spoken through the heavens day to day and night to night and gives light and warmth like the teaching, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and judgements of יְהוָה
20 2011.07.23Holy answer, we are filledin which the people pray for the anointed
21 2011.09.15Strength to him and blessing setin which the prayer for the king is considered answered
222011.09.15Praise to the hart of the dawn in the congregationin which uniqueness is surrounded by animals, and yet is not distant from God and will praise him in the great congregation where all will eat and worship
232011.09.19-in which we know a respite such as is never far away, even with distress arrayed before us
242011.09.15This mighty king of glory entersin which the king of glory enters and we hear a repetition of questions
252011.09.15I wait, in covenant teach me your pathsin which the elect celebrates the lifting up of the king of glory on behalf of all, but reminds God of trouble and the need for pardon
262011.09.16Walk in completenessin which the poet offers to be the elect
272011.09.16I seek, you will not forsakein which the elect exalts יְהוָה in his beauty and allows questions of a fearful nature
282011.09.16Hear the voice of my supplicationin which the elect does not want יְהוָה to be silent to supplication
292011.09.16Ascribe beauty, break the cedars of Lebanonin which יְהוָה is clearly not silent to supplication
302011.09.16Acceptancein which the elect gains in confidence because of healing received
31 2011.09.21Wasting away but a strong rock intervenesin which the elect expresses full confidence in יְהוָה God of truth, and by example, encourages others who hope in יְהוָה
32 2011.09.17Insight re transgression and iniquityin which the poet with insight notes the working of happiness related to sin forgiven or lifted up
33 2011.09.17Sing, counsel standsin which is celebrated the poet's trust in יְהוָה who made the heavens and the earth, who understands the turmoil of the nations and of the sea and the deeps, and whose eye is on those who fear him
342011.09.16The madness of taste, nothing lackingin which we play the third of eight alphabet games and almost a perfect one and we see that these poets liked games with letters and language
352011.09.17Contend my contentionin which the elect prays for judgement in the midst of contention
362011.09.17Light in mischiefin which the oracle of the wicked is seen in the light of יְהוָה
372011.09.17Burning instead of delightin which we receive good advice against considering the fortune of others
38 2011.09.17To remember the referee of the fleshin which the poet retains hope because the face of wrath is so clear
392011.09.17Futility, she is boundin which the poet prepared to resist sin especially with the tongue, bursts out with a demand to יְהוָה as to the what for of this futile exercise
40 2011.09.04Behold, continually unrestrainedin which we read that the end to be known is continually unrestrained mercy
41 2011.08.25In me amenin which trouble continues, but so does the completeness we have entered and are in: וַאֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי תָּמַכְתָּ בִּי
42 2011.09.16Longing – where?in which through insight a deep longing is expressed concerning the depths of being and the desire for presence
432011.08.25-in which the poet prays for judgement in the grip of an enemy
44 2011.09.17Why is this flock set up as reproach?in which we hear the corporate voice clearly
452011.08.25Beautiful father's daughter brought, palaces under sceptrein which the marriage of the king is celebrated, to the joy and inspiration of both poet and community
462011.09.19She will not be movedin which the city of God is introduced
472011.07.23Il monte et voilà - un cri de joiein which we are invited to shout and sing psalms because of the triumphant offering of the elect
48 2011.09.16The city of our God, the town of a great kingin which we learn how to see the holy city
49  2011.09.19The house of the proverbial precious dust like beastsin which the elect riddles us a parable concerning who can afford to live
502011.09.19Silence – goats to youin which God instructs the people of his mercy with respect to sacrifice
51 2011.08.25Blot out - purify - wash, then joy indeedin which the anointed, in sin, finds himself facing the righteousness of God
52 2011.07.23Deceit and calamityin which the capacity of the tongue for destruction and deceit is made clear
532011.09.19-in which we are reminded of the difficulty of finding one doing good
542011.07.22-in which David, the fugitive, is again betrayed but also has supporters
552011.09.19The inner close combatin which we see what David sees, violence within the city
562011.08.25Will ye no come back again?in which we see the fugitive elect daily confident in the presence of God
57 2011.08.30Be rousedin which the elect, still fugitive, among lions, continues in praise
58 2011.09.20Like hot snake charmingin which the righteous washes his footfall in the blood of the wicked
592011.09.20Dogs in the eveningin which the elect is again watched, his enemy having sent those who are set to take his life
602011.09.16The last miktam, inscribed geographyin which the land is defined
61 2011.07.22my vowin which we see an individual poet, not the king, living for ever in the tent of God because of a shared inheritance
622011.09.20of lies - mutein which surely silence is a good option
63 2011.07.21A psalm of joyin which we learn of the king's ecstasy in his God
64 2011.09.21suddenly – to planin which we engage in target practise
652011.09.16drips for the extremes - even in noisein which God provides for the earth and soothes the tumult of its tribes
66 2011.09.21refiningin which we are instructed in the content of a prayer of praise and the rationale for it
67 2011.08.03-in which we identify God's judgement with the harvest of the earth
682011.08.25captivity captive – riding the stormin which we see God's determination to be present in his holy hill, to drive away wickedness, to capture captives, to receive gifts in spite of the jealousy of other hills
69 2011.09.20sinking in overflowing floods in depthin which the elect is sunk in a wine from the deep and there is no foothold
702011.07.24hurryin which we are asked to remember
71 2011.09.12the declarations of youth and agein which the poet sings of the one who desires for us to be one in him and he in us
722011.07.24the needy the sun, moon, and Shebain which we see the full scope of the role of the Anointed
732011.09.19how is the heart touched soin which the poet identifies with both the beastly nature of wickedness and the bodily nature of the good
742011.08.25senseless, the signs and the appointed placein which the poet laments the destruction of the sanctuary and appeals to both creation and covenant for protection of the turtledove from the senseless and the adversary
75 2011.07.26the hornin which the red cup of judgment is drained to the dregs
762011.09.01in which human heat as clothing is worn by God
77 2011.09.05remembering the wonderful prodigalityin which we prepare to remember
782011.09.20commanding and guiding an imprisoned and provocative peoplein which is presented the entire epic of Israel for our instruction
79 2011.09.09the pouring out of Jerusalemin which the home of Jacob is devoured
80 2011.09.13the rooted vine in tearsin which is a prayer for the presence of salvation for the vine rooted in tears
81 2011.09.13in which while recapitulating a determined hope we hear what the thunder said
82 2011.08.27judge in favour of the weakin which the consequences of unjust judgement are spelled out
83 2011.09.16no no no - not silencein which the poet prays that the enemy in covenant against God might come to know God's name through their own disgrace and vexation
84 2011.09.16the courts of יְהוָהin which the poet meditates on finding a home
852011.09.04in which the turning of God's people is considered
862011.09.08in which David makes an unexpected appearance
872011.07.25who was born here?in which the citizens of the City of God are revealed
882011.07.25in a pit, entombedin which the elect is in a jam
89 2011.09.14of anointed and sworn to build – creation not profanedin which the poet laments the failure of the Davidic monarchy
90 2011.08.25of transient changein which Moses intercedes for the elect and for all
912011.08.25in which we bidden exchange feathers for wrath in the shadow of the Sufficient
922011.08.16about luxuriant flourishingin which the righteous is likened to a palm tree
932011.08.15the riversin which crushing waves cannot drown the majesty on high
94 2011.08.25how long vengeance - will the one who fashions also annihilate?in which the one divided finds correction and consolation
952011.08.25them!in which it is revealed that there remains a rest for God
962011.08.25the worldin which the invitation is given again to worship in the honour of holiness for the judgment of the world in righteousness
97 2011.08.25in which the earth is invited to rejoice for the fire that is from within the presence and the many righteous to give thanks for the remembrance of holiness
98 2011.08.25on the harpin which a new song is invited for the salvation seen to the ends of the earth
99 2011.08.26in which we are in the presence of the holy
100 2011.08.27in which the invitation to thanksgiving continues
101 2011.08.24in which the poet records intent and the response is of destruction
102 2011.09.04of dried up herbagein which the poet realizes dependence and the need for renewal
1032011.08.19nurturing compassion - as benefits the grasses' flushin which the blessings are piled on plural to plurality and all the hosts are invited to bless in return
1042011.09.14drink from the upper roomsin which we review the created order
1052011.08.31of Abraham and portents - bordersin which the promises and statutes are rehearsed from Abraham to Moses
106 2011.09.14reeds - Moses in the breach - extermination, plague, and idolsin which an unknown individual makes a plea to be remembered when the people come into their acceptance
107 2011.09.16the cry, distress - hunger, iron, waves, tempest and fruitin which, having reviewed the testimony of Moses for the elect, the invitation to redemption is extended retroactively to the whole world
1082011.08.30in which we recall both the prepared heart and inscribed geography
109 2011.09.02the accuser, blot out, curse progeny to wanderingin which an individual suffers a severe curse as one who must come to judgment
110 2011.08.31in which the king as priest drinks from the torrent in the way
111 2011.09.16Verily his righteousness stands in perpetuity in which the poet plays the first of two praises reflecting the redemption of the elect people
112 2011.08.31in which the poet plays the second of two praises reflecting the redemption of the prepared heart
1132011.08.31to live with the nobility in which the protagonists, the poor and needy, are made to sit with princes
1142011.09.19lambkin and little hills skipping in which the process of the redemptive birthing of the earth is recalled
1152011.07.22trust and blessing in which all are included in the blessing
1162011.09.07now pleasein which the individual celebrates the cup of salvation
117 2011.09.01in which all are again included
1182011.09.01the circumcision in which the elect is refused but becomes the headstone
1192011.09.21I note the pathway to the extraordinary spacein which the poet expresses his adoration for and cleaves to all the aspects of the instruction that are available to humanity
120 2011.09.02the first of the ascending steps to the Holy - woe to me for I live a charade
121 2011.09.19no snoozing the second of the ascending steps to the Holy - keeping
1222011.09.16the third of the ascending steps to the Holy - Pray for the peace of Jerusalem
123 2011.08.31of contempt the 4th of the ascending steps to the Holy - eyes
124 2011.08.31unless ... then - we escape the snare the 5th of the ascending steps to the Holy - escape
125 2011.09.16the 6th of the ascending steps to the Holy - mountains
126 2011.09.16the 7th of the ascending steps to the Holy - joy
1272011.08.23in vainthe middle of the ascending steps to the Holy - building the house
128 2011.07.21the 9th of the ascending steps to the Holy - children
1292011.07.25the 10th of the ascending steps to the Holy - troubled from youth
1302011.08.31the 11th of the ascending steps to the Holy - forgiveness
131 2011.08.31the 12th of the ascending steps to the Holy - weaned
1322011.09.19rest, Mighty One, priest the 13th of the ascending steps to the Holy - the rest of יְהוָה
1332011.07.20the 14th of the ascending steps to the Holy - unity running down as oil, as dew
1342011.07.21the 15th of the ascending steps to the Holy - blessing on the verge
1352011.09.03in the courts of יְהוָה sing a psalm to his name for pleasure
1362011.09.16in partsin which we praise for creation and redemption for his mercy endures for ever
1372011.09.03Babel, expose in which remembering is expressed from many voices
1382011.09.06in which all give thanks for the completion of the work of יְהוָה for the sake of the elect
1392011.09.19from you examine mein which the elect knows the reserving of יְהוָה even through death and awakening
1402011.09.07violencein which fragility and the need for protection are not forgotten
141 2011.09.07trapsin which the elect realizes culpability even when traps are set
1422011.09.07appealin which prayer continues
1432011.09.03in which the poet continues prayer and looks for an end to enemies through God's loving kindness recognizing that no one is justified in God's presence
1442011.09.08set me free with a bolt of lightningin which the poet prays for both individual and people, a fullness of creation
1452011.09.08in which the poet with an army of kaf's sounds the completion of the Psalter and its universality
1462011.09.03The first of the final Hallels - freedom, sight, consolation, love, preservation, restoration, subversion
1472011.09.08favourThe second of the final Hallels - the word runs swiftly
1482011.09.02The third of the final Hallels - the praise of all creation
1492011.09.08The 4th of the final Hallels in which the חֲסִידִים bind the kings
1502011.07.27cymbalsThe final Hallel, the praise of all that breathes

Presentation experiment

Presentation is here in PDF developed from Open Office presentations.  No scheduled date yet. The flash export from Open Office left the images grainy. And it can't handle the way I do tables.

I am having my difficulties thinking that I have not done anything except 'read' the psalms and 'report' some surface features of the landscape.  This marvelous picture of the Milky Way seems to say there are more things to reveal. HT James McGrath.

The heavens are from the books of the glory of God
and what his hands make is evident from the surface
Day to day ferments promise
and night to night breathes knowledge

Monday, September 19, 2011

Draft as a Pah Point

Here is a hierarchic decomposition of my prior draft text - suitable for electronic presentation via Power point or similar

Slide 1
The Psalter kata Bob
A joke

Slide 2
Seeing the Psalter
To open the eyes of the blind
Genesis 3 makes opening the eyes a special experience
Isaiah 35:6 repeats the phrase (only here is it repeated)  אָז תִּפָּקַחְנָה עֵינֵי עִוְרִים and psalm 146.8 shows who does the opening of eyes יְהוָה פֹּקֵחַ עִוְרִים
(work on slide 2 - subtlety required)

Slide 3
Seeing the psalms? They're poetry
Language no longer available aurally
Performance practice is at best inferred.
To see is to hear

Slide 4
Three grand principles:
parallels,
recurrence,
and prosody

Slide 5

Parallelisms or the rhyming ideas in the poems are clearest in the performance practice of plainsong and chanting.
Such patterns have been studied under the term, parallellismus membrorum,
coined by Robert Lowth in the 18th century.

For example psalm 18.21 contains two parallel similar thoughts
יְהוָה will reward me for my righteousness
for the purity of my hands he will turn to me

This parallel is in the form a-b-b-a.  There are many variations, a-b-a-b, a-b not b, not a etc etc etc and with trios and more.
(additional examples - without much comment)

Slide 6

Recurrence
A Rabbi Reads the Psalms, Jonathan Magonet
Read the psalms with coloured pencils and circle the words that repeat.

In the case of Psalm 18, verse 21 is itself the top of a frame.


יִגְמְלֵנִי יְהוָה כְּצִדְקִי
כְּבֹר יָדַי יָשִׁיב לִי
21יְהוָה will reward me for my righteousness
for the purity of my hands he will turn to me
כִּי שָׁמַרְתִּי דַּרְכֵי יְהוָה
וְלֹא רָשַׁעְתִּי מֵאֱלֹהָי
22for I have kept the ways of יְהוָה
and I have not been wicked with my God
כִּי כָל מִשְׁפָּטָיו לְנֶגְדִּי
וְחֻקֹּתָיו לֹא אָסִיר מֶנִּי
23for all his judgments are before me
and his statutes I will not put aside from me
וָאֱהִי תָמִים עִמּוֹ
וָאֶשְׁתַּמֵּר מֵעֲו‍ֹנִי
24and I will be complete with him
and I will keep myself from my iniquity
וַיָּשֶׁב יְהוָה לִי כְצִדְקִי
כְּבֹר יָדַי לְנֶגֶד עֵינָיו
25and יְהוָה turned to me for my righteousness
for the purity of my hands before his eyes


Slide 6
Selected recurring words in relative order - psalm 18.19-25

Word and gloss * first usage12345678VsRoot
כצדקי for my righteousness
21צדק
* כבר for the purity of
21ברר
ידי my hands
21יד
ישׁיב he will turn
21שׁוב
* לי to me
21לי
שׁמרתי I have kept
22שׁמר
ולא and not
22לא
* לנגדי are before me
23נגד
לא not
23לא
ואשׁתמר and I will keep myself
24שׁמר
וישׁב and turned
25שׁוב
* לי to me
25לי
כצדקי for my righteousness
25צדק
* כבר for the purity of
25ברר
ידי my hands
25יד
* לנגד before
25נגד

Slide 7

How should one manage the lines in a poem?
2's and 3's.
words in a line,
and lines in a verse,
and verses in a stanza.

slide 8
Enclitic nature of Hebrew.
So psalm 18:21 in Hebrew is
יִגְמְלֵנִי יְהוָה כְּצִדְקִי
כְּבֹר יָדַי יָשִׁיב לִי

7 'words' in Hebrew, 3 and 4 in each of the two lines - 18 'words' in English, 7 and 11 in the two lines.

Grammatical letters are in green. (22 letters, 2 sets)

slide 9
Consequences - for thinking, for presentation, for reading

All the psalms,
Proverbs,
Job,
the Song and other songs within the narrative portions,
all the prophets, and furthermore,
much of the so called prose

also makes heavy use of recurrence within its rhetorical framework

Slide 10
(E.g. Jonah, the whole story organized around 7 words).
Descent
Sea
Fish
Call
Turn
City
Tender Plant

slide 11
the canticles in Luke,
the sermons of Jesus,
and the writing of John.

slide 12
frames and meaning
to apprehend and respond

form follows function
function is obscured by disorder or a failure to perceive the form.

If function or meaning is framed in the original tongue,
then surely we should preserve the frames in translation.

KJV 400th continuous read-through

Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria has begun a Biblethon, a complete reading out loud in the Nave of the King James Translation. I listened to a couple of hours today, following along in my Tanakh.  This was an experiment - following where I have no English clues as to where we are.  One reader asked me at a hiatus - what chapter did we stop at? I had come into the church at the spot about bricks and straw and then a new reader had taken over without announcing the beginning of her chapters, but fortunately I had just found my place - so I said: chapter 12 of Exodus.  And he said - Oh - that's where I start.  So he started.

It's like my first experience of reading musical scores 50 years ago - you try and find clues as to where the reader is, then you catch up and keep up.

Tonight there is a performance of the Song of Songs by a theatre company. Same company doing Job on Thursday. Must continue.  I read tomorrow (Esdras) and Friday (Hosea).  (Remember). I feel very irresponsible not checking the translation of Esdras.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to present what I have seen - a draft

This post encapsulates the principles I desired to follow over the past 5 years. Where shall I go? What else should I read on this?

Why do I insist on seeing the psalms? I take them as a public declaration of both liturgical practice and personal delight. I need to see them, because the language is no longer available aurally in my time, and the performance practice is at best inferred. But in seeing them, I begin to hear also.

As I learned Hebrew, the language they were first written in, I saw patterns that were not obvious in English translations, the language I had first learned them in. Some patterns are relatively clear in some translations. For example, the parallelisms or the rhyming ideas in the poems are clearest in the performance practice of plainsong and chanting. Such patterns have been studied under the term, parallellismus membrorum,  coined by Robert Lowth in the 18th century. For example psalm 18.21 contains two parallel similar thoughts
יְהוָה will reward me for my righteousness
for the purity of my hands he will turn to me
In this case also, we have an action verb followed by a reason, then a parallel reason followed by an action verb. In this case reward me and turn to me are rhyming ideas, as are for my righteousness and for the purity of my hands. In the thought process, this parallel is in the form a-b-b-a.

These parallels are important, but there are other words also that frame and support parallelism. In a recent book, A Rabbi Reads the Psalms, Jonathan Magonet instructs the reader to read the psalms with coloured pencils and circle the words that repeat. In a close word for word translation, this is barely possible, but no translations into English that I know of are close enough.

To get the full extent of the word play and the recurring patterns or word usage, I had to read in Hebrew and translate in a new way to allow the frame evident in the Hebrew to play its same role in an English version. In the case of Psalm 18, verse 21 is itself part of a frame. It contains several words that are exactly repeated in verse 25, thus framing verses 22-24 which state the speaker's actions that lead to the reward of the presence. This type of recurrence I have shown in tables. The pattern in the table below immediately reveals the recurring words.

Selected recurring words in relative order - psalm 18.19-25

Word and gloss * first usage12345678VsStem
כצדקי for my righteousness
21צדק
* כבר for the purity of
21ברר
ידי my hands
21יד
ישׁיב he will turn
21שׁוב
* לי to me
21לי
שׁמרתי I have kept
22שׁמר
ולא and not
22לא
* לנגדי are before me
23נגד
לא not
23לא
ואשׁתמר and I will keep myself
24שׁמר
וישׁב and turned
25שׁוב
* לי to me
25לי
כצדקי for my righteousness
25צדק
* כבר for the purity of
25ברר
ידי my hands
25יד
* לנגד before
25נגד

A third pattern also emerged. How should one manage the lines in a poem? It has been suggested by John Hobbins at ancienthebrewpoetry.com that the Hebrew poets grouped by 2's and 3's. The pattern works quite well for words in a line, and lines in a verse, and verses in a stanza. The pattern works at the word level because of the enclitic nature of Hebrew. Conjunctions and prepositions, helping verbs, and so on are all clumped together in a Hebrew 'word' as prefixes and suffixes on a stem or root. As a result, a Hebrew poetic line perhaps expressing the first part of a parallel, is typically two or three words, and occasionally 4, rarely 5. Ideas are expressed with very few lexical words because the words are complex, comprised of a stem which is generally two or three characters, and the grammatical affixes. So psalm 18:21 in Hebrew is
יִגְמְלֵנִי יְהוָה כְּצִדְקִי
כְּבֹר יָדַי יָשִׁיב לִי

7 'words' in Hebrew, 3 and 4 in each of the two lines - 18 'words' in English, 7 and 11 in the two lines. In the above, the grammatical letters are in green. Each line thus has three distinct root words. In my work I form the Hebrew according to this prosodic rule, and I put the English beside it line for line, writing the English to correspond to the pairs and triplets of the Hebrew thought process as expressed in each poetic line. (The full text of the psalm is here.)

These three patterns: parallels, recurrence, and prosody all play a part in the way in which I want to see each poem.

A very large proportion of the Hebrew Bible is written in poetic form. All the psalms, Proverbs, Job, the Song and other songs within the narrative portions, all the prophets, and furthermore, much of the so called prose also makes heavy use of recurrence within its rhetorical framework (E.g. Jonah, the whole story organized around 7 words). Moreover, much of the New Testament takes its flavour from the thought process that is evident in Hebrew poetry. For example, the canticles in Luke, the sermons of Jesus, and the writing of John. The form frames the expression of meaning and therefore governs how we are to apprehend and respond to it.  The design principle is that form follows function, and its corollary is that function is obscured by disorder or a failure to perceive the form. If function or meaning is framed in the original tongue, then surely we should preserve the frames in translation.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'm reviewing the situation...

Advertising - I am reviewing all my psalms again from the beginning. Eventually I will catch up with PoC's postings (which I am also reviewing in advance of their scheduled publication date). This week I did all of Book 1, republishing all the translations with a few little tweaks. As I work through Book 2, I notice a substantial comment on Psalm 45 which of course follows the great exilic Psalm 44. Why is it that in the Psalter, this love marriage happens within the immediate context of exile?  Is it an accident?  Does Paul take the image of exile (he cites Psalm 44)  lightly?

Oh my aching sides and tearing eyes

Hysterics have subsided for a moment. I must read out loud as part of a King James marathon reading next week, 2 Esdras Chapter 11. I swear it's a dead parrot.

Heeeeelllllpppppp - how will I avoid breaking down into hysterics again?  Tell me something serious. Here's a bit of it... I challenge you to read it out loud without breaking up

11 Then saw I a dream, and, behold, there came up from the sea an eagle, which had twelve feathered wings, and three heads.
2 And I saw, and, behold, she spread her wings over all the earth, and all the winds of the air blew on her, and were gathered together.
3 And I beheld, and out of her feathers there grew other contrary feathers; and they became little feathers and small.
4 But her heads were at rest: the head in the midst was greater than the other, yet rested it with the residue.
5 Moreover I beheld, and, lo, the eagle flew with her feathers, and reigned upon earth, and over them that dwelt therein.
6 And I saw that all things under heaven were subject unto her, and no man spake against her, no, not one creature upon earth.
7 And I beheld, and, lo, the eagle rose upon her talons, and spake to her feathers, saying,
8 Watch not all at once: sleep every one in his own place, and watch by course:
9 But let the heads be preserved for the last.
10 And I beheld, and, lo, the voice went not out of her heads, but from the midst of her body.
11 And I numbered her contrary feathers, and, behold, there were eight of them.
12 And I looked, and, behold, on the right side there arose one feather, and reigned over all the earth;
13 And so it was, that when it reigned, the end of it came, and the place thereof appeared no more: so the next following stood up. and reigned, and had a great time;
14 And it happened, that when it reigned, the end of it came also, like as the first, so that it appeared no more.
15 Then came there a voice unto it, and said,
16 Hear thou that hast borne rule over the earth so long: this I say unto thee, before thou beginnest to appear no more,
17 There shall none after thee attain unto thy time, neither unto the half thereof.
18 Then arose the third, and reigned as the other before, and appeared no more also.
19 So went it with all the residue one after another, as that every one reigned, and then appeared no more.
20 Then I beheld, and, lo, in process of time the feathers that followed stood up upon the right side, that they might rule also; and some of them ruled, but within a while they appeared no more:
21 For some of them were set up, but ruled not.
22 After this I looked, and, behold, the twelve feathers appeared no more, nor the two little feathers:
23 And there was no more upon the eagles body, but three heads that rested, and six little wings.
24 Then saw I also that two little feathers divided themselves from the six, and remained under the head that was upon the right side: for the four continued in their place.
25 And I beheld, and, lo, the feathers that were under the wing thought to set up themselves and to have the rule.
26 And I beheld, and, lo, there was one set up, but shortly it appeared no more.
27 And the second was sooner away than the first.
28 And I beheld, and, lo, the two that remained thought also in themselves to reign:
29 And when they so thought, behold, there awaked one of the heads that were at rest, namely, it that was in the midst; for that was greater than the two other heads.
30 And then I saw that the two other heads were joined with it.
31 And, behold, the head was turned with them that were with it, and did eat up the two feathers under the wing that would have reigned.
32 But this head put the whole earth in fear, and bare rule in it over all those that dwelt upon the earth with much oppression; and it had the governance of the world more than all the wings that had been.
33 And after this I beheld, and, lo, the head that was in the midst suddenly appeared no more, like as the wings.
34 But there remained the two heads, which also in like sort ruled upon the earth, and over those that dwelt therein.
35 And I beheld, and, lo, the head upon the right side devoured it that was upon the left side.

Do I need prayer?

Every time on blogger that I publish a psalm translation, I am paired with a source of online prayer requests and in auto-read I see and read their advertisement. Perhaps it is in the random nature of language that the future might pray for the past. Pray, O ye who pray, by all means for David, the Beloved, the turtledove, the uniqueness and remember his troubles. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

I don't have a humour category - but that is where this should be filed. Totally serious humour like most of the Bible.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Psalm 111 - a translation joke


גְּדֹלִים מַעֲשֵׂי יְהוָה
דְּרוּשִׁים לְכָל חֶפְצֵיהֶם
2Great are the deeds of יְהוָה,
Delight of all that search them out.


You will notice that I am translating as acrostic - this makes it fun. But in doing the acrostic I managed to reverse the 'meaning' - yet both are true. As I have noted at the post
note the b part reverses the sense for the English - but both senses are fully true - they are sought out by those who delight in them and are the delight of all that seek them out. This process is called knowledge on the one hand and science on the other.
By all means suggest alternatives if you wish

Monday, September 12, 2011

Do you want to be happy? Read the psalms.

Warning - long post. This is a quick summary of structural elements I have found in the Psalter. Some of it is obvious and easily observable on the surface, some not. Check my counting.

The Psalter is comprised of 150 chapters divided into 5 Books. The chapters are variously inscribed,
  • 94 with a name, 
  • 56 with a genre, 
  • 51 for the Leader
  • 47 with additional notes perhaps referring to an incident recorded elsewhere in the Bible about the named person, some of these with instruments and or perhaps the name of the tune to which they might be sung. 
These inscriptions appear to be a somewhat random collection of curatorial notes at least at first glance.

The Books
  • Book 1, using the Hebrew numbering scheme, has 41 chapters. 
  • Book 2 from 42 to 72 is 31 chapters. 
  • Book 3 from 73 to 89 has 17 chapters. 
  • Book 4 from 90 to 106, also 17 chapters, and 
  • Book 5 from 107 to 150 has 44 chapters. 
The Greek translation has a variation in numbering. Psalms 9-10 are numbered as one chapter. This produces a difference of 1 in all chapters from 11 up to 147 which in the Greek is divided at Hebrew verse 11. (Psalms 42-43 feel like one poem but neither the Greek nor the Hebrew combines them. The Greek also has differences in the inscriptions. E.g. Psalm 43 is pertaining to David! This undercuts the structures laid out below.)
  • Three chapters in Book 1 have no name in the inscription. These are 1, 2, and 10 but chapter 10 is clearly a continuation of the poem of chapter 9. All these are of David
  • Four chapters in Book 2 have no name in the inscription. These are 43, 66, 67, 71 but chapters 43 is clearly a continuation of the poem  or chapter 42. These are of the children of Korah (42-49), of Asaph (50), and of David (51-65, 68-70) and one of Solomon (72).
  • All chapters in Book 3 have a name in the inscription, of Asaph (73-83), of the children of Korah (84, 85, 87), of David (86), of Hayman (88), of Ethan (89). 
  • In Book 4 only three chapters have a name in the inscription (90 of Moses, 101, 103 of David). 13 are without a name.
  • In Book 5, 17 chapters have a name (of David 108-110, 122, 124, 131-133, 138-145 and of Solomon 127). 27 are without a name.
  • David is the only one who has at least one chapters inscribed to him in each book.
For the moment I have called these chapters. They are usually called psalms, but only 57 are actually called a psalm in their inscription. Of the others,
  • 30 are called song (and several of these carry both song and psalm in their inscription), 
  • 13 are labeled maskil (insight), 
  • 6 are labeled miktam (written/inscribed), 
  • 4 prayer,
  • one reel, and
  • 2 oracle.  
Of these specialized genres Book 4 has one song. Book 4 is the sparsest when it comes to inscriptions. But all the 150 chapters are poems in a unique style of word usage and dialogue among poet, reader, community, and God. They are all sung and therefore, under the special rubric 'psalm', they can all be considered psalms, prayers, and songs. And all will give insight, all are written, and all will speak or cause one to dance (or writhe). Now the name for them in Hebrew is תְּהִלּים Tehillim, a masculine plural. This word occurs in the feminine in Psalm 22:4
וְאַתָּה קָדוֹשׁ
יוֹשֵׁב תְּהִלּוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל
But you are holy
seated on the praises of Israel

So one could (and certainly in retrospect having read them from cover to cover - a task for which there is no substitute) consider the whole 150 chapters as praises.

After the introductory 2 psalms, a collection of psalms inscribed to David begins the Psalter. Before the final Hallel, Psalms 146-150, a collection of psalms inscribed to David ends the Psalter. This is where we are going when we begin Book 1, into the first forest of largely individual first person singular poems that follow the opening pair of psalms.

Psalm 1 introduces the problem space, the wicked and the righteous, and a definition of one who is happy. Psalm 2 introduces the kings and the anointed king. Psalms 3 to 7 are a group of individual psalms recognizing trouble. Trouble and enemies are present throughout. Psalm 8 is a celebration of the governance of יְהוָה and derives in part from the creation story. There is an echo of Psalm 8 in Psalm 144. Psalms 9-10 begin a playful set of acrostics. These acrostic poems occur in the Psalter only in Books 1 (9-10, 25, 34, 37) and 5 (111, 112, 119, 145).

The Psalter shows marks of design indicating that it is more than a random collection of poetry. The first mark shows at the beginning and the end. Robert Cole (An integrated reading of Psalms 1 and 2 JSOT 98 (2002) 75-88) has, through observation of several shared words between Psalms 1, 2, and 149, demonstrated that they form such an outer frame for the Psalter. Cole shows the repetition of a whole series of words from Psalm 2 in the last 5 verses of Psalm 149. This is easily verified by a table such as follows. Observe how 6 words in verses 7 and 8 of Psalm 149 are used in the same order as the corresponding words in Psalm 2.

Selected recurring words in relative order for Psalms --2,149
Word and gloss * first usage12345678910123456789VsStem
* גוים the-many nations
--2.1גוי
ולאמים and the-many tribes
--2.1לאם
* מלכי these kinglets of
--2.2מלך
* ארץ earth
--2.2ארץ
* מוסרותימו their monopoly
--2.3יסר
* באפו in confrontation
--2.5אף
* ואני I myself
--2.6אני
* מלכי my own king
--2.6מלך
ציון Zion
--2.6ציון
בני my son
--2.7בן
* אני I
--2.7אני
* גוים those many nations as
--2.8גוי
* ארץ the earth
--2.8ארץ
ברזל strength
--2.9ברזל
* מלכים kinglets all
--2.10מלך
* הוסרו be warned
--2.10יסר
שׁפטי you many who make judgments
--2.10שׁפט
* ארץ earthly
--2.10ארץ
וגילו and rejoice
--2.11גיל
* אפו his anger
--2.12אף
כל the many who
--2.12כל
הללו Hallelu
149.1הלל
יה Yah
149.1יה
שׁירו sing
149.1שׁיר
שׁיר a song
149.1שׁיר
תהלתו praise
149.1הלל
חסידים the many who know mercy
149.1חסד
בעשׂיו in that one who made him
149.2עשׂה
בני the children of
149.2בן
ציון Zion
149.2ציון
יגילו rejoice
149.2גיל
במלכם in their king
149.2מלך
יהללו let them praise
149.3הלל
חסידים the mercied many
149.5חסד
בכבוד in glory
149.5כבד
לעשׂות making
149.7עשׂה
בגוים in the many nations
149.7גוי
בלאמים for the tribes
149.7לאם
מלכיהם kinglets
149.8מלך
ונכבדיהם these glorious ones
149.8כבד
ברזל durable
149.8ברזל
לעשׂות to make
149.9עשׂה
משׁפט judgment
149.9שׁפט
לכל to all
149.9כל
חסידיו under his mercy
149.9חסד
הללו Hallelu
149.9הלל
יה Yah
149.9יה

The words state that it is those to whom God has shown mercy in covenant who will carry out the judgement. One could summarize the whole Psalter as “The formation of those to whom mercy in covenant has been shown.”

Opening and closing the Psalter
[Psalms 1-2 ... Psalm 149]

Within the envelope of the beginning and end are two groups of psalms attributed to or dedicated to or in the style of David. This is the Davidic outer circle, Psalms 3-41 and 138-145.

Outer circle of psalms with the inscription to/of David
[Book 1................................................................end of Book 5]
[Psalms 1-2 [David, Psalms 3-41 ... Psalms 138-145] Psalm 149]

Book 1 is itself framed (Psalms 1-2, 40-41) by pairs of blessings given as statements of what will make a human happy. The first two psalms are themselves enfolded by their own pair of beatitudes.
אַשְׁרֵי הָאִישׁ
אֲשֶׁר לֹא הָלַךְ
בַּעֲצַת רְשָׁעִים
וּבְדֶרֶךְ חַטָּאִים
לֹא עָמָד
וּבְמוֹשַׁב לֵצִים
לֹא יָשָׁב
--1.1Happy the person
who does not walk
in the advice of the wicked
and in the way of sinners
does not stand
and in the seat of the scornful
does not sit
נַשְּׁקוּ-בַר
פֶּן-יֶאֱנַף
וְתֹאבְדוּ דֶרֶךְ
כִּי-יִבְעַר כִּמְעַט אַפּוֹ
אַשְׁרֵי כָּל-חוֹסֵי בוֹ
--2.12Kiss, aflame yourself pure
lest he face you
and you perish in your way
kindled with a hint of his anger
Happy! the many who find this protection


אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר
אֲשֶׁר שָׂם יְהוָה מִבְטַחוֹ
וְלֹא פָנָה אֶל רְהָבִים
וְשָׂטֵי כָזָב
-40.5happy the valiant
who sets up יְהוָה as his trust
and does not save face with the defiant
falling away to a lie


אַשְׁרֵי מַשְׂכִּיל אֶל דָּל
בְּיוֹם רָעָה יְמַלְּטֵהוּ יְהוָה
-41.2Happy the one giving insight to the weak
in the day of evil יְהוָה will let him escape
יְהוָה יִשְׁמְרֵהוּ וִיחַיֵּהוּ
וְאֻשַּׁר בָּאָרֶץ
וְאַל תִּתְּנֵהוּ בְּנֶפֶשׁ אֹיְבָיו
-41.3יְהוָה will guard him and keep him alive
and he will be considered happy in the earth
and you will not give him into the throat of his enemies
You will find that every book closes with such a beatitude.
יְהִי שְׁמוֹ לְעוֹלָם
לִפְנֵי שֶׁמֶשׁ יִנּוֹן שְׁמוֹ
וְיִתְבָּרְכוּ בוֹ
כָּל גּוֹיִם יְאַשְּׁרוּהוּ
-72.17his name will be forever
his name will propagate in the presence of the sun
and they will bless themselves in him -
all nations will call him happy

end of Book 2
אַשְׁרֵי הָעָם
יֹדְעֵי תְרוּעָה יְהוָה
בְּאוֹר פָּנֶיךָ יְהַלֵּכוּן
-89.16Happy the people
knowing the jubilation of יְהוָה
In the light of your face they will walk

Book 3
אַשְׁרֵי שֹׁמְרֵי מִשְׁפָּט
עֹשֵׂה צְדָקָה בְכָל עֵת
106.3happy those keeping judgment
doing righteousness at all times

Book 4
אַשְׁרֵי הָעָם שֶׁכָּכָה לּוֹ
אַשְׁרֵי הָעָם שֱׁיְהוָה אֱלֹהָיו
144.15happy the people who are like this to him
happy the people who have יְהוָה as their God

Book 5
אַשְׁרֵי שֶׁאֵל יַעֲקֹב בְּעֶזְרוֹ
שִׂבְרוֹ עַל יְהוָה אֱלֹהָיו
146.5Happy the one who has the God of Jacob for its help
Its reliance is on יְהוָה its God


Psalm 146, the beginning of 5 psalms that close the Psalter likewise signals that it is part of the happiness frame. If these beatitudes are strategically placed, what about the others? They are clustered in the collections.

So Psalms 32-34 in Book 1,
לְדָוִד
מַשְׂכִּיל
אַשְׁרֵי נְשׂוּי פֶּשַׁע
כְּסוּי חֲטָאָה
-32.1Of David
an insight
happy lifted up transgression
covered sin

אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם
לֹא יַחְשֹׁב יְהוָה לוֹ עָו‍ֹן
וְאֵין בְּרוּחוֹ רְמִיָּה
-32.2happy the human
to whom יְהוָה will not reckon iniquity
and without deceit in his spirit

אַשְׁרֵי הַגּוֹי
אֲשֶׁר יְהוָה אֱלֹהָיו
הָעָם בָּחַר לְנַחֲלָה לוֹ
-33.12happy the nation
where יְהוָה is its God
the people chosen as his inheritance

טַעֲמוּ וּרְאוּ כִּי טוֹב יְהוָה
אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר יֶחֱסֶה בּוֹ
-34.9taste and see for יְהוָה is good
happy the valiant that takes refuge in him

One only in Psalm 65 in Book 2,
אַשְׁרֵי תִּבְחַר וּתְקָרֵב
יִשְׁכֹּן חֲצֵרֶיךָ
נִשְׂבְּעָה בְּטוּב בֵּיתֶךָ
קְדֹשׁ הֵיכָלֶךָ
-65.5Happy the one chosen and made near
who will dwell in your courts
We will be satisfied in the good of your house
your holy temple

A frame for Psalm 84 in Book 3,
אַשְׁרֵי יוֹשְׁבֵי בֵיתֶךָ
עוֹד יְהַלְלוּךָ
סֶּלָה
-84.5Happy those sitting in your house
ever they will praise you
Selah

אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם עוֹז לוֹ בָךְ
מְסִלּוֹת בִּלְבָבָם
-84.6Happy the human whose strength is in you
with a highway in their heart

יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת
אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם בֹּטֵחַ בָּךְ
-84.13יְהוָה of hosts
happy the human who trusts in you
One only in Psalm 94 in Book 4,
אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר תְּיַסְּרֶנּוּ יָּהּ
וּמִתּוֹרָתְךָ תְלַמְּדֶנּוּ
-94.12Happy the valiant whom you chasten Yah
and from your instruction you teach them
And at significant structural points in Book 5 - following the triumph of Psalm 110, the acrostic Psalm 112, following the work of Psalm 118, the acrostic of love, Psalm 119, following the songs of ascent, poems of remembrance and intimacy 137, 139.
הַלְלוּ יָהּ
אַשְׁרֵי אִישׁ יָרֵא אֶת יְהוָה
בְּמִצְו‍ֹתָיו חָפֵץ מְאֹד
112.1Hallelu Yah
A happy person fears יְהוָה
By his commandments he has much delight

אַשְׁרֵי תְמִימֵי דָרֶךְ
הַהֹלְכִים בְּתוֹרַת יְהוָה
119.1All joy for those who are the complete of the way
who walk in the instruction of יְהוָה
אַשְׁרֵי נֹצְרֵי עֵדֹתָיו
בְּכָל לֵב יִדְרְשׁוּהוּ
119.2All joy for those observing his testimonies
with a whole heart they search him out

אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר
אֲשֶׁר מִלֵּא אֶת אַשְׁפָּתוֹ מֵהֶם
לֹא יֵבֹשׁוּ
כִּי יְדַבְּרוּ אֶת אוֹיְבִים בַּשָּׁעַר
127.5happy the valiant
who filled his quiver with them
he will not be ashamed
when he speaks with enemies at the gate

שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת
אַשְׁרֵי כָּל יְרֵא יְהוָה
הַהֹלֵךְ בִּדְרָכָיו
128.1A song of the ascents
Happy all fearing יְהוָה
those walking in his ways
יְגִיעַ כַּפֶּיךָ כִּי תֹאכֵל
אַשְׁרֶיךָ וְטוֹב לָךְ
128.2for you will eat the labour of your palms
your happiness and good for you

בַּת בָּבֶל הַשְּׁדוּדָה
אַשְׁרֵי שֶׁיְשַׁלֶּם לָךְ
אֶת גְּמוּלֵךְ שֶׁגָּמַלְתְּ לָנוּ
137.8Devastating daughter of Babel
happy the one who makes peace with you
even weans you as you weaned us

אַשְׁרֵי שֶׁיֹּאחֵז וְנִפֵּץ
אֶת עֹלָלַיִךְ אֶל הַסָּלַע
137.9happy the one who holds and dashes
your unweaned against the cliff


Books 2 (Psalms 42-72) and 3 (Psalms 73-89) together comprise another cell contained in the outer envelopes. Books 2 and 3 have an outer circle of psalms of the children of Korah, Psalms 42-49, 84,85,87-88, 89 (Ethan). We also note that there is a change of the predominant name for God from יְהוָה in Books 1, 4, and 5, to Elohim as 'God' from Psalms 42 to 83.

The Korah circle and the inner Elohist Psalms
[[ the name יְהוָה [ Book 2 and 3 Elohim / Korah 42-49 ... 84-85, 86, 87-88, 89] the name יְהוָה ]]

It is in Book 2 that we first hear of the Exile and, forewarned by the longing of the individual in Psalms 42-43, experience the corporate lament of Psalm 44. The last reference to this disaster is in Psalm 137, By the waters of Babylon. The history of the nation is thus 'contained' by the Davidic corpus and does not mute the final praise. While Book 2 ends with a conclusion that the prayers of David the son of Jesse are at an end, they clearly are not at an end as far as the rest of the Psalter is concerned.  I have not found a significant verbal frame for Book 2 by itself.

Within books 2 and 3 are the psalms of Asaph 50, and 73-83, psalms of the harvest 65-67, a Davidic inner circle and its outlier doubles, 51-65, 68-70 ... 108. Within these are the six psalms inscribed as miktam and four psalms to the tune Do not destroy and their outliers 16, 56-60, 75. Psalm 78, which through its recurring words has earned the name Commanding and Guiding an Imprisoned and Provocative People, is the first of the psalms of the primal history, the exodus and the wilderness. The final of these psalms (136) celebrates with its repeated refrain, the mercy and loving kindness of God.

Inner structure of Books 2 and 3
[...[[Korah [Asaph [David [harvest] David] Asaph] Korah (Ethan)]]...]

Touch נגע may form a structurally significant word in the Psalter. It forms a wrap around the happiness of the centre of Book 1 (Psalms 32-39) and then touches only psalms at or near the borders of Books 3, 4, and 5 (73, 88, 89, 91, 105, 107, 144). This word has additional weight when considered with the other factors giving coherence to the individual books. Book 4 begins with Moses (90), includes the rebellion (95) and a series on יְהוָה as king 96-99. Book 4 ends as it began with a reference to Moses in Psalm 106.

Sequence of cells between the outer David psalms
[Opening [David [Books 2 and 3] [Moses Book 4] [Book 5] David] Closing]

Book 5 begins with Psalm 107, the human condition and the divine response. The crying out of Psalm 107 is echoed with a slightly different spelling in Psalm 144, appeal. Thanks and loving kindness are both in the frame of 107 and 149. Book 5 can be divided by the acrostics: Psalms 111 and 112 both celebrate the work of Psalm 110, prepared by 108 and 109, and Psalm 119 could be seen as celebrating the work of Psalm 118, again prepared by the sequence from 113 to 117. Of the substantial and perfect acrostic, Psalm 119, Pascal (cited in Les Psaumes, Desclée de Brouwer ) writes:
Cette supplication déroule lentement ses 176 versets en un long récitatif et n'est en son fond que la même protestation d'amour indéfiniment répétée sous diverses formes.
This supplication unrolls slowly its 176 verses in a long recitative and is at its base but the same protestation of love repeated without limitation in diverse forms.

The final psalms of Book 5 are the series of the 15 psalms of ascent 120-134, and Psalm 135 celebrating the 'arrival' in the courts of יְהוָה. Then we begin the series of closing brackets and the final cadences, for all who fear God: 136 creation and redemption, 137 exile, 138-145 Davidic reminder and last acrostic, and 146-150 the great Hallel. Psalms 137 to 139 can also be read as if in the courts, memory, prayer, and the Holy of Holies. The remembering of David from within the courts is fitting confirmation of the role of the elect in the redemption of the created order. One should then start the Psalter again considering this ultimate viewpoint.