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Patterns of Movement in the Hebrew Psalter

A Holistic Thematic Approach with an Exemplar, Psalms 69–87


Yung Hun Choi

The author re-examines the movements in the Hebrew Psalter as a whole, "from laments to praises" and "from psalms of individual to those of community," indicated by Westermann (1977) and Gottwald (1985). In general, these movements are widely observable, however, there are some contradictory data upon closer inspection. Namely, some laments are assembled at the end and in fact many psalms of community appear in the middle. This motivated the author to launch a holistic structural study. In this book, the author demonstrates that the movements are not specified in a linear design but a progressive parallel pattern, crossing over the fivefold doxological division. The movements foreshadowed between Psalms 1 and 2 unfold in the specific psalms-groups and in the tripartite division. Each psalms-group exhibits the movements "from distress (lament) through deepest sorrow to joy (praise)," "from individual (through Israel) to nations," "from present/past to future," "from (the city of) Israel through Sheol/death to Zion," "from Mosaic covenant to Davidic one" and "from the flawed human (Davidic) kingship through Messianic to YHWH’s kingship." The "answer and certainty" of Psalms 1–2 reappear at the end of each group. A psalms-group, Pss 69–87, was selected as an exemplar to demonstrate the regularity of the movements.