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An Exquisitely Poetic Introduction to the Psalter

From: Journal of Biblical Literature
Volume 132, Number 2, 2013
pp. 275-293 | 10.1353/jbl.2013.0032

Abstract

Abstract:

Against the skepticism of some scholars, this essay argues that Psalm 1 is not only poetry but exquisite poetry. The aesthetic excellence consists not of balanced structure, predictable rhythmic patterns, or intricate design. Rather, it is on account of its brilliant imagerial contrast, its clever employment of both symmetry and asymmetry, its shrewd play with lineation, its subtle use of ambiguity and polyvalence, and its performative closure that this poem deserves to be considered among the finest in the Psalter and indeed the Bible. Furthermore, the essay shows how interpreters through the centuries are indispensable conversation partners for the modern interpreter. They broaden the horizon of every interpreter, and their voices contribute to a deeper appreciation of Psalm 1 as a theologically profound introduction to the Psalter, thereby inviting the reader to live a commendable life amid uncertainties, but a life that leads nevertheless to the praise of God.



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