Gathering Psalms : Paratexts and Poetics in the 'Book' of Psalms

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Recent research on the Book of Psalms has been dealing intensively with issues relating to its so called “final shape." Proceeding from, among others, an influential dissertation by Gerald H Wilson, scholars have argued that the collection, as it now stands, is “more than the sum of its parts” (so e.g. McCann). Although such a notion is fairly straight forward on a conceptual or general level, it is not quite clear how it relates to the actual effect of the juxtaposition of psalms (and collections of psalms) on a compositional level, and even less so to notions of ‘editorial intent’. While great progress have been made in identifying various techniques possibly used in shaping the collection, a coherent theoretical framework is often missing. Fundamentally, the question to be asked is what one means with ‘book’ in the designation “Book of Psalms?” Often taken for granted, I believe the issue has to be properly addressed, as it ultimately effects both the way the collection is read and used, but more importantly, it effects any reconstruction of the process through which the collection was once formed.

Proceeding from these observations, I will, in my paper, attempt to sketch a new way forward. First, I briefly revisit and critique parts of the methodological foundation laid in particular by Wilson, focusing especially on what I call a conflation of synchronic and diachronic issues. Second, I propose that the view of the Book of Psalms as an anthology merit further consideration. So, after an attempt to provide a workable definition of anthologies, I sketch out some consequences for the current study of the formation of the Book of Psalms. Here, focus is especially on the poetics of anthologies, that is, on the question of what binds an anthology together, as well as the question of how an anthology is usually read, and I suggest that the notion of paratextuality, as developed by the french literary scholar Gérard Genette can, if properly contextualized to an ancient material culture, open up some new and unexpected possibilities.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Religionsvetenskap
StatusUnpublished - 2015
Peer review utfördJa
EvenemangSBL (Society of Biblical Literature, Annual Meeting) - Atlanta
Varaktighet: 2015 nov 212015 nov 23


KonferensSBL (Society of Biblical Literature, Annual Meeting)