Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Write-Up: The Psalms

Andrew J. Schmutzer and David M. Howard, Jr., ed.  The Psalms: Language for All Seasons of the Soul.  Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2013.

I would like to thank Moody Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.  See here for Moody’s page about it.

This book contains essays by evangelical scholars and pastors.  The contributors include Bruce K. Waltke, Willem A. VanGemeren, C. Hassell Bullock, Francis X. Kimmitt, Robert B. Chisholm Jr., Andrew J. Schmutzer, Michael E. Travers, Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Allen P. Ross, Daniel J. Estes, Randall X. Gauthier, Robert L. Cole, David M. Howard Jr., Michael K. Snearly, Tremper Longman III, Mark D. Futato, Daniel A. Ridder, and John Piper.

Some of the essays made points that I have heard or read over and over again in discussions about the Psalms.   Another essay, which compared the Masoretic and LXX for Psalm 54, made interesting points but was very technical and could have done a better job in summarizing the differences between the two versions of the Psalm.  A few of the essays are valuable to me in that they summarized scholarship about the Psalms, such as different opinions about the Psalms’ settings, parallelism, and interpreting the Psalms canonically.  Some essays in the book appeared to accept the Davidic authorship of a number of Psalms, whereas at least one essay seemed to posit that a Psalm was later attributed to Moses but was not actually by him.

There were essays in the book that I really enjoyed.  My particular favorites were Robert Cole’s essay about the connections between Psalm 1 and Psalm 2, as well as David Ridder’s speculation that the Psalmist in Psalm 84 was especially longing to worship God in Jerusalem because the Assyrians were inhibiting him from traveling there.  Tremper Longman III’s defense of Contemporary Christian music also resonated with me: “Not every song has to teach profound theology; sometimes it is best to simply express adoration” (page 223).

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