Friday, December 13, 2013

Speech-act theory and the psalms

I probably won't buy the book by Gordon Wenham, but there are a few cool comments in this podcast about his new book, The Psalter Reclaimed. For a series of lectures on Speech-Act theory, listen to these podcasts. They were my driving companions in random order on my last cross Canada trip to Winnipeg. Keeps one awake on a long trip - especially when listened to in random order!

Why won't you buy this book? Don't you think it would span the gap between your language and the language of the more conservative of your kin?  And would it not help you find a way in to those assemblies that fail to use the Psalter in their work?

Yes, it might. He still uses Law for Torah, rather than my use of instruction or teaching. In doing so he removes the rigidity of the conservative mindset, but I find it difficult to use the word 'Law' since every time a person uses it, they have to rethink their assumptions. Yet he also emphasizes the obedience - and the vows, very suitable for all, particularly the rich or the careless. I will likely listen to this podcast more than once... (There are errors in it, as would be expected in a phone call - the reference to Ps 89 is wrong, should be Psalm 119:97. Also the role of the Sabbath is there in Ps 92). The interviewer is full of leading questions, loaded with adjectives. Implied is - do you agree with me ... or else! Wenham uses the phrase, 'the evidence of a new David, a new Messiah'? Not a phrase in the Psalms that I have read at all. Getting inside the assured mind is a significant problem - (the darkness does not receive the light.)  'Reciting the psalms is like taking notes in court' - nice image... needs teasing out. Coverdale (for me) does not cover the full gamut though... - again this problem of language and expectation...  re laments and the negative psalms, Wenham makes good points particularly for the rich who have ignored the preferential option for the poor that is evident in the Psalter. But he says - "I haven't got a vineyard that is being trampled on" - really? What about the evidence of the trampling on the earth by humanity and rare storms like Jerusalem today?  The interviewer has all the answers (grrr.)

For why should churches use the psalms see my prior post on The Case for the Psalms.

For my own teaching on the psalms see this playlist.

While I am on useful links - this exploration of the prologue to John as Targum and Midrash by Daniel Boyarin, a recent visitor to our coffee time last week, is really worth studying.
The Gospel of the Memra: Jewish Binitarianism and the Prologue to John
Author(s): Daniel Boyarin
Source: The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 94, No. 3 (Jul., 2001), pp. 243-284
Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Harvard Divinity School
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