The movement pattern of the Hebrew Psalter: a holistic thematic approach with an Exemplar, Psalms 69–87

Yung Hun Choi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Concerning the layout of the psalms, Westermann (1977) and Gottwald (1985)indicated that there was a movement, ‘from the laments of individual to the praises of community’, in the Psalter as a whole. In general, their observation is correct; however,some data (e.g., Pss 74–83 and 138–143) contradict the claim when psalms are closely examined, which was the motivation of this study to explore how movement is specified in the Psalter (Masoretic Text). Using a text-oriented holistic approach, this study demonstrated that the movement is not linearly operated, but is progressively repeated,crossing over the fivefold division. The movement foreshadowed between Psalms 1 and2 is unfolded in the psalms-groups: Part I (Pss 3–9 and 11–22), Part II (Pss 25–33, 35–50,51–68, 69–87, 88–100 and 101–117) and Part III (Pss [119:169–176] 120–138A and138B–150). Psalms 23–24 and 118–119 respectively introduce Parts II and III.
Each psalms-group exhibits the movements ‘from distress (lament) through deepest sorrow to joy (praise)’ and ‘from individual (through Israel) to nations’. They also include other thematic movements, such as ‘from present/past to future (from the current life under Torah to the future one by God’s decree [in the form of oracle])’, ‘from Mosaic covenant to Davidic one’ and ‘from the flawed human (Davidic) kingship through Messianic to YHWH’s kingship’. The ‘answer and certainty’ of Psalms 1 (Sinaitic covenant) and 2 (Davidic covenant) are observed at the end of each group. Of the groups,some are put together, such as Psalms 3–22, because later sections (e.g., Pss 11–22) function as a conclusion with more psalms of praises. Psalms 10, 22, 34, 50, 68, 118, 119and 138 are transitional. A psalms-group, Pss 69–87, was selected as an exemplar to demonstrate the regularity of the movement.
Because there are movements and theological storylines in terms of the prophetic elements in the Psalter, the Book of Zechariah was selected to determine whether there were also such movements and storylines in the prophetic book (cf. Gunkel & Mitchell). Although the Book of Zechariah lacked individual information with less emotional expressions, its content was unfolded along with such movements of Psalms, which aided in understanding the movement pattern of the Psalter.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Rees, Anthony, Principal Supervisor
  • Aernie, Jeffrey, Co-Supervisor
Award date01 Jul 2019
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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