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ABSTRACTS

Luther and Calvin Read Psalms 1–2
Prof. Susan Gillingham
This paper will focus on Luther’s reading of these first two psalms. Yet it is impossible to appreciate his commentaries and translations in context without reference to Calvin’s subsequent works a (and indeed to Erasmus’ earlier works). The paper pays particular attention to Luther’s political and theological context which resulted in very different readings of Psalms 1 and 2, the former where he used a more theological agenda and the latter where he usually adapted a more political bias. Luther’s use of these two psalms also provides excellent insights into the development in his overall approach to the Psalter, as he began to combine a more Christological exegesis with more pragmatic concerns – in effect bringing his exegesis more in line with that of Calvin, whom he never apparently met.


The Psalms and Psalms 132 in the Early Days of the “New World”
Dr. Melody Knowles
Shaped by the use of the Psalms in Europe, missionaries and colonialists in both North and South America made frequent use of the Psalter. Protestants brought over the tradition of singing metrical paraphrases of Psalms in worship, and the Bay Psalm Book was the first book published in the New World (1640). Owners of enslaved persons included Psalms in the educational program for both their slaves as well as their children. Missionaries too taught and translated Psalms along with the New Testament texts, with John Eliot’s translation of the Bible into Algonquian for the Wampanoag people the first Bible published in English North America (1663). In addition to this use of the Psalter in the pedagogy and religious practice of the New World, this paper will consider the role of Ps 132 in motivating colonial expansion. Soon after she and her husband sponsored Christopher Columbus’ voyage, Queen Isabella of Castile received a prayer book (Add MS 18851). The unique visual program of the Psalms of Ascents in this book depicts David’s installation of the Ark in Jerusalem, with the miniature that heads Ps 132 showing the arrival of the Ark in Jerusalem. As Spain laid claim to the New World, Isabella’s prayers were thus shaped by an ancient king who himself conquered new territory in order to accommodate his God. As it happens, almost one hundred years later, Ps 132 was also taken up by Spain’s rivals in the same pursuit of territorial expansion in the New World. Killed by Spaniards in a raid of a French colony in Florida, the Huguenot Jean Ribault sang a paraphrase of the text as his dying words: “Remember, O Lord, to Jean’s benefit, all of his exertions…” The reception of the Psalms in the New World reveals the concomitant acceptance of underlying assumptions about the text’s role in education and worship. When the focus narrows to the reception of Ps 132, we also see the text’s role in promoting rival political aims for the capture of land.

“Please Open Your Ear, My People, To My Torah ...!” What Psalm 78 Wants to Say to Whom
Dr. Beat Weber
It is all connected! Prophecy, wisdom teaching, sermon liturgy (historical, narrative, and poetical) texts, contexts, intertexts, paratexts ... as well as hermeneutics and theology. Psalm 78 is not only an extensive psalm, but also theologically weighty and interwoven with diverse literary and historical contexts. It refers to history, and points to a specific understanding of that history (“His-story”). It refers to torah, while also being torah itself, it forms the hermeneutical centre of the Asaph Psalms group, while also standing in the “middle” of the Psalter. This study focuses on how Ps 78 is made to be part of these contexts, by analysing its beginning (vv. 1–8, 9–11) and final part (vv. 56–72) in dialogue with the following five areas: 1) the communicative setting of the psalm; 2) the referential system used (anaphoric/personal deixis); 3) the hermeneutics of parabolic and enigmatic speech; 4) Ephraim(?) and (possible) levels of listening; and 5) the Fortlesung Ps 77 → Ps 78 as potential reception aesthetics, or intentional production aesthetics.

The Psalter and King David: A Reception Historical Perspective
Prof. Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer
The Psalter has always been associated with King David. Many headings attribute individual psalms to David and not a few connect a particular psalm to a specific incident in David’s life. The present article explores how the contemporary reception of King David, as found in novels, poetry, drama, and film from the 20th and 21st century, makes use of the Psalter in their depiction of David’s life and character. The article has a twofold focus. First, it investigates how the content of individual psalms is used to complement the material in 1–2 Samuel with the aim of fleshing out the characterisation of David. For example, it is relatively common to allow Ps 69, a psalm attributed to David in which the psalmist claims that he was despised by his family, to compliment the depiction of David’s relationship with his family in 1 Sam 16–17. Second, it examines how specific psalms are inserted into the plotline of David’s life to elaborate on his personality and emphasise his greatness and piousness. For instance, even though 1–2 Samuel associates David with music on only three occasions (1 Sam 16:14–23; 2 Sam 1:17–27; 22:1–51), it is a prevalent practice to depict David as composing psalms throughout his life, with Ps 23 as the pinnacle.    

How the Psalms Made Their Way Into the Swedish Lectionary
Dr. LarsOlov Eriksson
In 2003 the Church of Sweden adopted a new lectionary. This lectionary came to be used also by many other denominations in Sweden. The lectionary follows the adopted format from the earlier lectionary of 1983, featuring three series of biblical texts for each day in the lectionary. Each series, in turn, contains three different biblical texts – one from the Old Testament, of from the epistles, and one from the Gospels. In addition to these nine texts, there is also a tenth text from the Psalms. This contribution begins by offering first a short historical survey of the use of the Psalms in earlier lectionaries.  and it then discusses what caused this considerable change in the content of the lectionary. Finally, it explores a selection of individual psalms to the highlight the hermeneutical rules which were applied when choosing which psalms to include in the lectionary.

Pastoral Concerns in Conflict: The Place and Use of Imprecatory Psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours
Dr. Elisabet Nord
When seeking to use psalms (liturgically, it is necessary to deliberate whether a given psalm is suitable. This decision needs to be made according to a certain set of principles. This need becomes especially important in the case of the imprecatory passages and the so-called imprecatory psalms. They tend to be omitted from liturgy, as a close reading of Breviaries used in various traditions aptly illustrates. By partaking in the discussions that occurred in the study groups responsible for the revision of the Liturgy of the Hours in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, this article identifies two predominant factors and arguments used by the working groups in the Concilium in favour of the selective use of (imprecatory) psalms. One position is pastorally oriented and centred on removing those passages that may disrupt the liturgy. The other – and contradictory – suggestion is driven by the incentive to retain the tradition of reciting the entire Psalter. Adherents of this view argue that the imprecatory psalms can be used, albeit in a manner that is limited to such times and/or circumstances where the psalms could be read prophetically.


Psalm 16 in the New Testament and Early Christian Literature
Prof. Antti Laato
Psalm 16 plays a key role in the New Testament and early Christian writings as it is understood to refer to Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Yet, this Christian interpretation did not start from scratch but presupposed an interpretive scenario established in early Jewish writings. The aim of this article is to discuss how the text has been understood in early Jewish writings and how the Christian understanding was formed in such Judeo-Christian episteme.

Hearing the People Through the Voice of David: On the Paratextual Framing of Psalm 30
Dr. David Davage
The superscription to Psalm 30 is puzzling. The framing an individual psalm of thanksgiving both as a song at the dedication of the temple and as Davidic has caused much scholarly confusion and is regularly not considered when exegeting the psalm proper. To understand the function of the superscription in relation to the psalm, this paper analyses the re-use of psalms in the (late) Second Temple period, a re-use that is initiated by a process where psalms came to be closely related to an emerging canonical history. Read in light of the davidization of psalmody and communalization of individual voices in the psalms, this article will shed new light on the superscription, and it will show how this paratext has been used, interpreted, and modified in (early) Jewish and Christian traditions.

The Potential of the Psalmist’s Anger
Dr. Rachel Wrenn
Since the times of the Early Church theologians, the Psalms have often been touted as exemplars of the whole of human emotional experience. Yet the psalmists never once explicitly express anger at God using vocabulary directly related to anger. This paper explores how this omission has affected the ability of Christians to express their own anger at God. Further, it argues that the identification of the implicit way in which the poets express anger at God in the Psalms can aid Christians to express their anger in circumstances of suffering today.

Speaking Images: Illuminating the Psalter in Byzantium
Dr. Barbara Crostini
Vaticanus graecus 752, an eleventh-century Greek Psalter, has the peculiarity of combining illustrations with the text of the catena commentary from Hesychius of Jerusalem’s commentaries on the Psalter, thus creating speaking images. This article presents a few examples of this unusual combination and asks what it can tell us of the relation of text, images, and performance in the (likely monastic) environment where the Psalter was made. How does the Psalter speak through the images and its captions? How does the exegetical effort translate into the creation of this manuscript? How could such a book have been used? Although this codex is in many ways unique, it raises the issue of how images were integrated into a theological and catechetical discourse with respect to the prayers of the psalter. In this respect, it sheds light on aspects of performativity of the psalter in the Middle Ages.

The Continuity between Jewish and Christian Psalms Manuscripts
Prof. Tommy Wasserman and Andreas Märs
In the earliest phase of Christian gatherings, the Old Testament scriptures were read aloud in the community and the New Testament authors frequently cite and allude to the scriptures, not least the Psalms. Consequently, early Christian scribes who copied the Old Greek/LXX Psalms must have used exemplars copied by Jewish scribes at various points. As a result, some continuity is expected which also affects how these texts were written, read or chanted in liturgy. Indeed, as Alan Mugridge has suggested, Christians may have followed a Jewish layout for Greek OT poetic texts, and that there is a continuity between the Jewish and Christian textual transmission also regarding the titles of the Psalms. This paper will test his hypothesis by looking specifically at a distinctively Greek Jewish manuscript, P. Oxy. 77.5101 from the second century CE (likely the earliest extant copy of the Septuagint Psalms) and by comparing its text and paratext to early Christian manuscripts

Updates on the Göttingen Project “Die Editio critica maior des griechischen Psalters” (2020–2040)
Dr. Margherita Matera
In 2020, a new long-term project of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities started: “Die Editio critica maior des griechischen Psalters.” Its primary aim is to study the textual tradition of the Septuagint Psalms and Odes and prepare a new critical edition of the Psalms and Odes that will expand and update Rahlfs’ preliminary one of 1931. This long-term project (2020-2040) is divided into six modules. The first of these focuses on cataloguing all extant Greek manuscripts of the Psalms (more than 1,300) dating from the 2nd through to the 16th centuries. This article provides a brief overview of studies on the Septuagint in Göttingen. It also illustrates the current state of research conducted by the team of the Göttinger Septuaginta by presenting their database and showing some selected examples from the online catalogue. While studying the Greek Psalms and Odes manuscript tradition, references will also be made to the Hexaplaric fragments, which contribute to our understanding of the textual development of the Psalms.

Psalms and Circles in the Theurgy of the Élus Coëns
Dr. Ola Wikander
The Psalms from the Hebrew Bible have been used not only as parts of Christian and Jewish liturgy or personal piety but also in elaborate, hours-long magical rituals in candle-lit and incense-filled rooms owned by 18th-century French aristocrats, who mumbled their phrases over intricate circles, drawn in chalk on the floors. The theurgical and initiatory order known as the Élus Coëns, founded in 1767, was one of the most important organizations of Western Esotericism, and the starting-point of the current known as Martinism, this order (formally known as the Ordre des Chevaliers Maçons Élus Coëns de l’Univers), and the biblically-based ritual magic it employed, formed the basis of much esoteric thinking, especially in the French-speaking world, both in the past and the present (in the form of various revival movements). This article explores the use of Psalms in the Élu Coën movement (and its modern heirs): continuous and constant use of Psalm texts were at the heart of the magical and theurgical practices of the order, within a Catholic-based yet theologically Gnostic-like framework. It further discusses this “magical-theurgical” use of Psalms from the Hebrew Bible, as codified in the writings of the founder and main theologian of the movement, Martinez de Pasqually, and his pupils, Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin and Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, and the part played by Psalms in the quest for “reintegration” into the divine that was the aim of the order.

Going to the Zoo with Saint Jerome: The Rendering of Animal and Plant Names in Jerome’s Latin Psalm Translations
PhD Student Martijn Jaspers
Jerome of Stridon (ca. 347-420) has made three translations of the Book of Psalms: the ‘Roman’ translation (completed ca. 384, but now lost), the ‘Gallicanum’ (based on the hexaplaric LXX and later incorporated in the Vulgate, ca. 385-91), and the ‘iuxta Hebraeos’ (based on a Hebrew source text, ca. 391–2). This paper examines Jerome’s renderings of plant and animal names in his two parallel surviving translations of the Psalms, with a special focus on the fourth book of the Psalms (Pss 90–106). Due to both their ‘scientific’ meaning and metaphorical value, plant, and animal names pose notorious problems for translators and thus form interesting study material for scholars interested in Jerome's translation technique and biblical exegesis. Besides the actual renderings themselves, this article will also take Jerome’s letters and exegetical works into account, in which the translator explained, corrected, and defended the choices he had made in his ‘Gallicanum’ and ‘iuxta Hebraeos’ translations. By studying the Latin renderings of plant and animal names in the Latin Psalm tradition, this study will shed light not only on evolutions in Jerome’s translation technique and developments in his Psalm exegesis in particular, but also more generally on the reception history of the Psalms in the Latin tradition.

Gillingham
Knowes
Weber
Timeyer
Eriksson
Nord
Laato
Davage
Wrenn
Crostini
Wasserman
Matera
Wikander
Jaspers

 

7–8 November 2024
Örebro, Sverige

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