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Introduction to the Psalms

SKU 9780827216235

by Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford


Introduction to the Psalms: A Song from Ancient Israel seeks to provide the reader with a solid introduction to the Hebrew Psalter, one that is informed by an interest in its shape and shaping. The author, Nancy deClaissé-Walford, provides an up-to-date study on the poetic style of the psalms in the Psalter, their gattungen or genres, the broad shape of the book, and the history of its shaping. She introduces each of the five books of the Psalter, providing a detailed examination of those individual psalms that are either key to the shaping of the Psalter or interesting studies in poetic style. In the final chapter, deClaissé-Walford draws conclusions about the shape of the Psalter and about its story and message. She proposes a way to read the Psalms as a unified whole and in relationship to one another rather than as individual pieces, giving an inclusive, all-encompassing shape to the Psalter.

Included are two appendices that provide a listing of the superscriptions and gattungen (form) of the psalms in the Hebrew Psalter and an explanation of many of the technical terms found in their superscriptions.


“Rather than examine the content of the Psalms, deClaissé-Walford charts the canonical shape of the entire Psalter and the editorial process that led to that shape. Her interest in individual psalms is primarily literary, identifying the Gattung (form) of each. Influenced by the hypothesis of Walter Brueggemann, she draws theological conclusions from the canonical ordering of the forms. Emphasizing the poetic nature of the Psalms, she provides concise explanations of several characteristics of Hebrew poetry, such as parallelism, chiasm, inclusion, etc. Her brief history of the ordering of the Psalms and their final compilation is quite informative.”
—The Bible Today

"This introduction invites the student to move away from seeing the psalms only as liturgical material and to also see the psalms as text that tells a story. This is a much-needed perspective that translates the most recent trends of psalms scholarship into a usable classroom resource. Both theological students and church groups can benefit from this thoughtful and timely presentation."
—Beth LaNeel Tanner, New Brunswick Theological Seminary