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The Religious Experience in the Book of Psalms

Series:

Shamai Gelander

This book deals with the world of the psalms, in order to reveal the elements of faith as expressed in the various prayers. It includes an encompassing study of the variety of experiences: How can an individual in distress experience a situation which contrasts his actual reality altogether? What causes an individual to believe that God wants him to live and does not want him to die? What are the individual’s sources of confidence in justice as ruling over the universe, and his confidence that the harmony of the universe leaves no room for evil? Virtually all books of the Old Testament express the world view and opinions of their authors, with a didactic purpose on mind. Not so the Book of Psalms: Here we can find an expression of the pious individual’s world and his beliefs. The psalms are what the authors sought to place in the mouth of the worshippers, thinking that they would aptly express what was on their mind. Anybody who seeks to understand how faith and thoughtfulness join together with the individual’s emotions through a wonderful creative shaping, is invited to read this book.

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Introduction ................................................................................................. 7 1. On the Methods of Ancient Commentaries .................................... 11 1.1 On contemporary interpretations ............................................... 14 1.2 Guiding approach and investigative method ............................ 19 1.3 On the essence of the experience .............................................. 26 2. Transitions & Transformations .......................................................... 33 2.1 The transformation experience: from the actual to the desired (per Ps. 23) ................................................................. 33 2.2 From doubt and crisis to renewed faith (per Ps. 5).................. 49 2.3 From despair to hope, from pleading to thanksgiving ............ 56 Interim Summary .............................................................................. 83 2.4 Praise and thanksgiving ................................................................ 84 Psalms 9–10 ..................................................................................... 89 2.5 Summary ....................................................................................... 106 3. The Experience of Closeness to God ............................................. 113 3.1 “In the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge” ........... 113 3.2 Close – to the point of merger ................................................. 127 4. The Experience of Harmony: Justice and World Order .............. 137 4.1 Psalm 39 ....................................................................................... 155 4.2 Psalm 147 ..................................................................................... 158 5. The Ceremonial Experience .............................................................. 163 5.1 The procession or rally............................................................... 163 5.2 Raising sacrifices as a ceremonial experience ......................... 180 6. The Promised Life Experience ......................................................... 193 6.1 Confidence in salvation in the communal prayers ................. 206 6 7. Every Man a King ............................................................................... 215 7.1 Psalm 20 ....................................................................................... 231 7.2 Psalm 132 ..................................................................................... 234 Conclusion ............................................................................................... 239 Bibliography ............................................................................................. 243 Abbreviations ........................................................................................... 251

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