Voicing the Unvoiceable in the Psalms Through Tactics of Poetry

 

            We do not want to be in too much of a hurry to get to the New Testament. Bernhard Anderson, in emphasizing the “this-worldliness” of Israel’s faith, cites Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s advice that we need to know the ineffability of God before we can utter the name of Jesus Christ – that we need to see the wrath of God on our enemies before we see the need to forgive them (Anderson 119). We do not want to get too quickly to the Resurrection. This paper will explore the notion of voice in poetry as a weapon or tactic against the dehumanizing forces of the “enemy.” The enemy here is treating the Bible as an idol – looking for “quick fixes” to get to the “good life.” For example, if we try to get to the Resurrection before understanding the Hebrew Scriptures and how Israel looked at life and prayer, we will avoid the human side of the resurrection with all its negative dark sides. After looking at Michel Certeau’s notion of voice as a tactic against the dehumanizing forces of civilization, we will explore poetry as a metaphor of various “voice” tactics that will help us hear voices of God through life experiences of the Bible, multiple voices of the speakers of the psalms, liturgical collective voices performing poetic parallelisms, voices from the written Scriptures/Temple, and voices from the lament psalms. I will conclude with a study of Psalm 22 with a goal of demonstrating that poetry is the non-linear tactic that enables us to experience a fuller human life.

 

 

            Michel de Certeau’s Tactics of Voice

 

            In The Practice of Everyday Life, Michel de Certeau, a French philosopher of “resistance,” distinguishes between strategy and tactics to describe how the weak and the powerful operate in the world. Strategy is for the powerful who see the whole field of action. “Tactics” are what the weak use to move about in a world controlled by the strong (35-6).  The strong own the “places” while the weak use the “spaces.” The strong make “maps” while the weak work out “itineraries.” The strong use science while the weak use arts. The strong, who make the rules, are less inclined to be as creative as the weak who break them (xxxi).  The weak make use of the arts of cooking, walking, reading, and most important, using their voice. Certeau’s distinction between written and oral language is not that of Derrida’s (the idea of absence and difference). With Certeau, printed language controls the weak as they are “written’ into the culture with all sorts of documents and cultural garb. Using your vocal chords is one way to verify you are alive. This “scriptural economy” starts with the onset of modernity (135-7). Laws are written. Cultural tools imprint themselves on our bodies in the same manner that Robinson Crusoe shaped his island to serve him. Certeau describes Crusoe as “writing” his island to serve him better.  We, too, become texts to serve our culture (141-2, 146). We are written into our jobs, marriages, our religion, our schools, our health programs, and all other places of our life. After 1600, Certeau believes that the Bible ceased to speak. It became something “made” by Martin Luther to reform the church. The Bible ceased being something “spoken.”(137). We counter this printed prison is by using our voice and by searching for lost voices. When the words scrape against our throats, we realize we are alive. Our tactic is to become a story instead of a sign (144). The key is in the sound of real voices which are resistant to becoming printed language. The psalms have this “voice” quality that Certeau searches. The psalms are the voices of the people of God. Whether the psalmist is a king or represents a community, the goal is the same – to speak to God in praise, thanksgiving, petition and lament.  The poetry we are dealing with is not facile poetry, but the kind that deals with sacred experiences such as death, suffering, injustice, and joy.  The tactics and variations of this serious poetry can be seen as “voice” metaphors of Certeau, which are concerned with the qualities of being completely human, both spiritual and material.

 

                                    Voices of God Tune up Human Voices

 

            Northrop Frye contends that poetry is more primitive than prose. Poetry permits us to memorize and improvise our lives. Prose develops from the metaphors that we make (220). Psalm 19, a “Torah” psalm, has a riddle of God and his universe speaking without words (vv.1-4). The nature of language and metaphor permit us to have an anthropomorphic vision of God. Frye contends that pagan deities were a lot easier to “metaphorize” than the Hebrew God, due to their number and different functions (24-5).  Psalm 19 advises us to ponder God’s law even more than the way we ponder the created universe. Our words, and he means Certeau’s voice here, have to correspond to the meditation of our heart (v14). Harold Fisch values the lyric subjectivity of poetry because it gives us a new source of power to meditate on feelings of joy and sorrow. In Psalm 63, as well as Psalm19, the speaker meditates on creation during a night watch. Creation is most import when is meditated upon (106-7). If the Exodus is Israel’s first experience with God, writers of the Torah would have had to work their way back to Creation, and the Book of Genesis, through meditation of God’s covenant of steadfast love. The Psalter (the psalms considered as a book) are grouped into five sections like the Torah, and have the spirit that enabled the writers to compose the Torah. The psalms, according to Alter, reveal God’s presence and other religious and human experiences, through the linguistic medium of poetic experience (Art 135-6). Alter contends that it is Job’s “poetry” that enables him to question God and display his outrage to his friends. And, it is God’s “poetry” that gives Job insight into some kind of order beyond – a glimpse of ungraspable creation (Art 110). God speaks the world into being and we thank him (Alter Art 213). I guess we “think” him too. Thinking and thanking are related. The reflexivity of God’s voice and human voices are seen in poetic responses. In Psalm 91, the speaker’s voice, looking for shelter, is completed with God’s voice in the first person (Alter, Literary Guide 253-4).

            Donald Berry studies Psalm 18 from different tactics including textual, rhetorical, form-critical, and reader-oriented. It is the latter, in combination with the other tactics, which gives the psalms so many voices. The psalmist can be speaking on behalf of David, or the congregation, or an individual, or an audience/congregation from another time period. This lack of anchor is what gives the psalms such a density of meaning, including historical, personal, and liturgical (The Psalms 129-30, 142-46). The reader identifies with the psalmist in distress, for example. There is a reflexivity of reader and the text (115) that can give birth to meanings for all times. Berry thinks this complexity gives the psalms a more rounded completeness not found in Proverbs (Introduction 189). Berry cites poetry as the form for the important prophet oracles (176). Poetry also provides the medium for sacred ritual, serving the Hebrews in their active emotional remembrance of their origins under God. The sweet sounds themselves were a strong factor in pleasing the Creator, thus maintaining the bonds between the congregation and God (Berry, Introduction 181-2).

 

                        Liturgical Collective Voices – Thinking in Parallels

 

            The performance type aspect of the psalms gives them an active creative value in their own right. Berry tells us that participation in the liturgy was a must. In Psalm 18, a royal thanksgiving psalm about David being delivered from his enemies, is really a deeper psalm and goes beyond David to the Exodus. The ancient rituals were more than devotional. The rituals, more than just praising God, made the connection between heaven and earth happen through the voices and participation of the congregation in the act of remembering God’s intervention on Israel’s behalf (132-3). The “I” of David becomes a “We” in the ritual reenactment where the congregation testifies and makes happen the eternal truths (Berry, Psalms 132).  Berry thinks the psalms in later history had more of a devotional aspect as to an active faith producing one (136). Fisch thinks that the collective spirit and wording of some psalms might limit their subjective lyric power. However, the same collective spirit enhances meaning “horizontally” to the community and “vertically” to the congregation in history (118-9).

            Parallelism has much to do with performance type tactics. Timothy Carmody claims that “poetic parallelism,” a non-linear/metaphoric mode, is the style in which the Israelites thought. To talk about something, you compared it (79-81). Luis Alonzo Shökel says that parallelism breaks down the plurality of reality into sections that we can understand or articulate (51). We divide reality and put it back together again. In Psalm 114, a praise of the God of Exodus, the Israelites leave a place where they were subdued by a people with a strange language and go to a land where their God teaches them a different kind of language.

1                     (a)When Israel went out from Egypt,

(b)           The house of Jacob from a people of a

strange language,

2                     (a)Judah became God’s sanctuary,

(b)           Israel his dominion

                                3              (a)The sea looked and fled;

                                                (b)           Jordan turned back.

4              (a)The mountains skipped like rams

                                                (b)           the hills like lambs

                                5              (a)Why is it, O sea, that you flee?

(b)           O Jordan, that you turn back?

6              (a)O mountains that you skip like

                                                                rams?

                                                (b)           O hills, like lambs?

7                     (a)Tremble, O earth, at the presence

of the Lord,

                                                (b)           at the presence of the God of Jacob,

                                8              (a)who turns the rock into a pool of

                                                                                water,

                                                (b)           the flint, into a spring of water

 

The (a) verses could be read alone and make sense, but the (b) verses did and do prolong and make resonant the meanings. This psalm says a great deal of history in a short space. The oppressor’s language is strange like the way Egypt holds people in slavery. The strange language of oppression is countered by how God’s universe has a harmonious language. The released slaves who have passed over the sea barriers and language barriers will have an opportunity to live in a more ‘non-strange” and ordered world. Shökel sees how the new land’s experience will develop in brilliance as the way the pool of water becomes a spring and the way rock will sparkle like flint (59). A great deal is said in this short hymn of praise and history, including conceptions and acting out of political and social harmony.

            There is a danger of treating the texts as purely rhetorical (Fisch 3-6). In this case we fall in love with the text as a physical pleasing object without any reference to its sacred meaning.  We have to keep the reflexivity of God with the human. The performance-type character of the psalms should produce a collective voice that reflects on its past, present and future. The collective spirit makes it easier to bring God into collaboration. Holladay sees God as a poet helping to shape the human poets’ words (212).

            With the performance type aspect of the psalms comes the idea that the new “temples” are really edifices of the words and voices. Bernhard Anderson reminds us that the Psalter is called the “hymnbook of the Second Temple,” because the book was being shaped in this era. This is also the time when the synagogue was becoming a major form of worship. This smaller type worship in private homes and places was structured around the psalms and the study of the Torah (Anderson 9-10). This association with worship and scripture study and Torah as a meditative experience leads to the concept of the Bible as being a symbolic Temple.

 

                                    Temple Voices or Book Voices

 

            Northrup Frye sees the Bible progressing from monumental images of God to verbal images. He studies the Bible as a whole book, based on archetypal images. He emphasizes language and especially the kerygmatic or revelationary aspect of Scriptural (not Certeau’s ironic use) language. The goal of this type of writing is to experience the word of God. He sees the Bible as a unified story going from the Creation to the Apocalypse. The story’s form is like a repetition of the letter “U,” with the tops of the “UUUU,” as the peaks and the bottoms as low points. There are seven phases of Revelation. The Creation peak is followed by a fall that announces a future Revelation in Exodus. Exodus is followed by the desert period with an expectation of Redemption in the Law. The fool does not follow the law and needs Wisdom. The Prophets help us “prodigals” and then the Gospels and the Apocalypse, in the New Testament, announce the new kingdom (106-130). Frye sees a progression from the “monument” “temple” approach to God in the Old Testament to the supremacy of the verbal revelation of the New Testament (200). Use of language in the Bible gives us a possibility of self-recreation (224). Frye elaborates on Dante’s four-fold interpretation of Biblical events (221-4). Everything in the Bible presents a truth in four ways. The “literal” meaning is the Old Testament event, like the Exodus passage in Psalm 114:2 where the Israelites flee Egypt, the land of a strange language to a new land. The “allegoric” meaning is the relation the event has in the life of Christ. Psalm 114’s Moses prefigures Christ who will be the eventual leader to God’s kingdom. The “moral” meaning is how we should act. In this case Frye thinks it is the conversion of the soul from the grief and misery of sin to the state of grace (221). I would say that we should look for signs of social justice where there is harmony and order in relations. The “anagogical” meaning is the final meaning telling you where you are going if you act according to the moral sense. Here, it is the departure of the soul from corruption and slavery to the eternal kingdom. Christ is the unifying metaphor of the Bible if we look at it as a whole, the way Dante and Frye do. Different layers of truth are revealed through one experience if we practice good interpretative reading skills.. The French symbolist poets of the 19th Century wanted to return to this density of language. The Bible is about interpreting language so that we can recreate our world. Here, if we follow in the Israelites’ example, following the law will give us a new look at the world. Not being a slave to old ideas and sins will help us see springs instead of pools of water. Even if we do not believe in an after-life, the anagogical still paints a picture of how we can live not imprisoned by the linear time frame. Interpreting the word gives it a voice in our lives.

            This recreating of our world needs reflection. Harold Fisch associates this meditation period as the “Sabbath.”(21) -- not so much a day of rest, but a day to stop working and think about the meanings of what we have done. David Robertson distinguishes between aesthetic and sacred truth. He wants to elevate the former to a deeper level rather than the mere decorative. Our music and rituals on the Sabbath can reveal truths to us. He compares Shelley’s “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” with Psalm 90. He calls Shelley’s poem a lament on beauty being superficial and, at best, a coloring of our world. However it is the disappearance or fading of beauty that gives the poet insight on what he has positive in life. In Psalm 90, the psalmist bemoans a life of trouble and toil that ironically passes too quickly (vv.7-10). Like Shelley’s poem, there is a shift to wisdom when the speaker asks God for the insight to see the gifts he really has in the works of his (our) hands given by God (vv.14-17). Robertson compares this shift as alternations between the dominant and tonic stress of musical chords (66-67). By playing both tunes, the beauty of a song can reveal our short lives mingled with touches of eternal wisdom in how to live them. The wisdom voice here is a musical lesson in stoicism.

 

                        The Laments: Voices of the Dead and the Dark Side

 

            We have to face our dark side and the lament psalms help us. James Mays says that the enemies, whether they are warriors, evil hunters, or beasts, are bigger than life. They transcend the personal and the particulars of a given situation in order to bring up existential and religious dimensions (36-7). He is not denying that there were immediate dangers, but he is affirming that enemies usually had to do with causing a loss of faith in God and upsetting the calm and right way of living (37).

            One of the enemies to our faith is the “fool” or being a “fool.” The fool refuses or cannot see the divine in nature (Fisch 129-30). In Psalm 92, the fool cannot see that the wicked (vv.5-7) flourishing really is a sign that they will disappear in a fast flurry too. The key to understanding the brevity of life is to turn to the eternal Lord (v8). The fool mistakes the golden feet of Isaiah’s messenger for the message. The feet themselves are important, says Harold Fisch (19-20). It is the movement in nature from the divine to the human that is the message, and not his golden shoes. I interpret the fool as the one who mistakes the real concreteness of a message. For example, it is the experience of a book that counts, not the fact that we have read the pages. It is the experience of the voyage that counts more than the photographs we took.

            James Kellenberger sees the fool as one who refuses to learn with his heart. He is the intellectual who does not really experience what he is learning (97, 107, 111). Intellectual proofs have to be supported with sensitivities. John Courtney Murray contrasts this Biblical fool to the man of “sense”(78). He will counter this fool with the Existential fool who refuses to see the spiritual in the world. These godless philosophers make an “idol” out of knowledge (83), and thus have limited experiences. 

Walter Brueggemann sees a pattern of orientation-disorientation-new orientation in the psalms. He focuses on the lament psalms, the psalms of negativity (xii), as the key to gaining a “feel’ of the psalms as a whole. Loss is fundamental to life. The negativity psalms are subversive to the dominant culture that tries to cover up the dark side of reality (xii). There are two quotations at the beginning of the essai. The first is from John Updike’s Rabbit Is Rich. “Laugh at the ministers all you want, they have the words we need to hear, the ones the dead have spoken” (xvi). The second is from José Porfirio Miranda’s Communism in the Bible. “It can surely be said that the Psalter presents a struggle of the just against the unjust” (xvi). The psalms are about the troubled side of life, the fears and the pains of those who have suffered and died, and the psalms also point out where the injustices have been made and do invite us to liberate the victims.

The psalms of orientation are for the satisfied. They show God’s order in the world. Creation, Torah and Wisdom psalms belong to this category. Countering the psalms of order and orientation are the psalms of disorientation. Brueggemann believes that the church should not keep these psalms in the background. All facets of life are part of faith (26-8). These psalms have two parts: the plea and the praise.  The plea includes the complaint of sickness, desolation, imprisonment followed by an appeal to God’s past help (31). Brueggemann sees the imprecations as examples of regressive speech showing loss of control in desperate times (33). The praise is the logical consequence of the plea. God moves from dark to light (35). The “fear nots” in these psalms are examples of primal communication that touches our deepest fears (37). Usually there is a gap between the depression and the conversion that is not articulated.  (See Ps 22:21). It is the area of faith (Brueggemann 36). In the personal complaints we see the voices of the caged (38). In Psalm 13 the speaker sleeps the sleep of death, but still reaches for faith in God’s steadfast love. The communal complaints  (pss 74, 79, 137) can lead to social action. There is a reflexivity of blame in these psalms – a combination of wrongdoing on the human side and neglect from God. Still, Brueggemann notes, it is God who will come to the aid of the lamenter (44-6). The psalms of new orientation are various thanksgiving and kingship psalms. With thanksgiving we are on the other side of lament (50). Some of the hymns of praise can be examples of new orientation that are swing back to “old” orientation.   We are in a never-ending cycle of satisfaction – trouble – new direction. New orientation is characterized by declarative type language about historical liberation.

            6              The Lord works vindication

                                                                and justice for all who are

                                                                                oppressed.

                                7              He made known his ways to Moses,

                                                                his acts to the people of Israel.

                                8              The Lord is merciful and gracious,

                                                                slow to anger and abounding in

                                                                                steadfast love  (Ps 103)

 

The same psalm moves to a condition of “old’ or “satisfied” orientation.

19                  The Lord has established his throne

in the heavens,

                                                                and his kingdom rules over all.

 

This psalm ends with a litany of “Bless the Lords” from angels, powerful ones who obey, all ministers, and finally from the psalmist’s soul. The psalms are there for those in need of praying, no matter what cycle of orientation they are in, but they must always pass through the voice of lament to have the full human experience and a lasting spiritual one.

 

 

                                                The Voices of Psalm 22

 

I turn now to Psalm 22 in search of voices to guide me. The introductory verse indicates a melody “deer of the dawn.” We are in a liturgical setting.  In the Invocation  the speaker, in a desperate situation both day and night, bemoans not being heard by God (vv.1-2), but he still remembers God having rescued Israel in the past. This is not just a personal lament as the remembrance is as a people and highlighted in a separate strophe (vv.3-5).

                To the leader: according to the Deer

                of the Dawn. A Psalm of David

 

1              My God, my God, why have you

                                forsaken me?

                Why are you so far from helping

                                me, from the words of my

groaning?

2              O my God, I cry by day, but you do

not answer;

                And by night, but find no rest.

 

3              You are holy,

                                enthroned on the praises of Israel.

4              In you our ancestors trusted;

                                they trusted, and you delivered

them.

5              you they cried, and were saved;

                                in you they trusted, and were not

put to shame.

 

In the first Predicament (vv.6-8), we see the psalmist in a low place in society and being ridiculed, especially for his seemingly unanswered faith in the Lord. Timothy Carmody thinks that the following Confession of Confidence (vv.9-10)  is a way of answering his enemies’ mockery at his faith (93). I think this is an example of Certeau’s voice of resistance, which leads to the Petition (v.11) to the Lord to be near.

 

 

6              But I am a worm, and not human;

                                scorned by others, and despised by

the people.

7              All who see me mock at me;

                                they make mouths at me, they

                                                shake their heads;

8              “Commit your cause to the Lord; let

                                                him deliver-

                                let him rescue the one in whom he

                                                delights!”

 

9              Yet it was you who took me from the

                                                womb;

                                you kept me safe on my mother’s

                                                breast.

10            On you I was cast from my birth,

                                and since my mother bore me you

                                                have been my God.

11            Do not be far from me,

                                for trouble is near

                                and there is no one to help.

 

The second description of the Predicament (vv. 12-18) is more detailed. The enemies are seen as bulls and lions (vv. 12-13). Carmody notes that the description of the enemies a few verses later (vv. 16-18) is more lifelike  than figurative (94). This parallelism is bringing us to the real world of ruthless people. I  am thinking about funerals where survivors argue “politely” over the dead person’s possessions.   The sufferer is in between the two descriptions and is described in both wet and dry terms vv. 14-17). Carmody points out that this means the whole person is dying (94).

12            Many bulls encircle me

                                strong bulls of Bashan surround

                                                me;

13            They open wide their mouths at me,

                                like a ravening and roaring lion.

 

14            I am poured out like water,

                                and all my bones are out of joint;

                my heart is like wax;

                                it is melted within my breast;

15            My mouth is dried up like a

                                                potsherd,

                                and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

                                you lay me in the dust of death.

 

16            For dogs are all around me

                                a company of evil doers

                                                encircles me.

                My hands and feet have shriveled;

17            I can count all my bones

                They stare and gloat over me;

18            they divide all my clothes among

                                                themselves,

                                 and for my clothing they cast lots.

The second Petition (vv. 19-21a) asks for deliverance from the beasts in the reverse order they came. It is God’s grace that is reversing the order of punishment.

 

19            But you O Lord, do not be far

                                                away!

                                O my help, come quickly to

                                                My aid!

20            Deliver my soul from the sword,

                                my life from the power of the

                                                dog!

21            Save me from the mouth of the

                                                lion!

 

The Command to Praise occupies the remainder of the psalm. We do not know exactly how the speaker succeeded in being rescued. This is the gap of faith to which Brueggemann alluded (37-8). Carmody breaks the Praise in two parts. In vv.21b-26, the psalmist promises to proclaim the Lord and then rehearses his song. The final section (vv. 27-31) is a universal hymn from the great congregation.

                From the horns of the wild oxen you

                                Have rescued me.

22            And I will tell your name to my

                                                brothers and sisters;

                                in the midst of the congregation I

                                                will praise you:

23            You who fear the Lord, praise him!

                                All you offspring of Jacob, glorify

                                                Him;

                                Stand in awe of him, all you

                                                Offspring of Israel!

24            For he did not despise or abhor

                                the affliction of the afflicted;

                he did not hide his face from me,

                                but heard when I cried to him.

 

25            From you comes my praise in the         

                                                great congregation;

                                my vows I will pay before those

                                                who fear him.

26            The poor shall eat and be satisfied;

                                those who seek him shall praise the

                                                Lord;

                                May your hearts live forever!

 

27            All the ends of the earth shall

                                                remember

                                and turn to the Lord;

28            For dominion belongs to the Lord,

                                and he rules over the nations.

 

 

29            To him, indeed, shall all who keep

                                                in the earth bow down;

                                before him shall bow all who go

                                                down to the dust,

                                and I shall live for him;

30            Posterity will serve him;

                                future generations will be told

                                                about the Lord,

31            and proclaim his deliverance to a

                                                people yet unborn,

                                saying that he has done it.

 

There is an inclusio in vv. 12-21 around the words “bull” and “wild oxen.” I see this as a central unit of the psalm and indicative of the death and resurrection of the speaker as the bulls, lion, and dogs bury the speaker into the dust of death, followed by God rescuing the speaker in reverse order, restoring him to the previous state of health. They call it remission in cancer terms. Holladay notes that Rosemary Ruether incorporated this psalm in a healing ceremony for battered wives (296-8). While the victim confessed all the punishments she was undergoing in a step-by-step manner, another group answered with an appropriate part of the psalm. A universal healing takes place. We can apply this healing to any situation of oppression. A group prayer like this would help ease the pain of loneliness, old age, low pay, and low self-esteem. Maybe it is up to us to fill in Brueggemann’s gaps of resurrection with our own voices together in solidarity.

 

Conclusions – Christ’s Voice

 

This psalm is associated with Christ. Portions are sung on Palm Sunday and on the 5th Sunday in Lent (in the Catholic Lectionary) that commemorates the raising of Lazarus.  Martin Kuske appraises Bonhoeffer’s interpretation of Christ as the speaker of the psalms, especially the laments and imprecations. Bonhoeffer advises us not to try to meet God on our terms. We must meet God at the Cross (19-20). Only Christ could speak the psalms of vengeance. Only God/Christ can see the injustice done by the enemies and want to eradicate it. It is the same god who also forgives (85-6). We must follow the example. We must study all the voices coming from our collective being to see what we need to improve and what we need to be thankful for.

Northrup Frye notes that during war, especially in enemy territory, we will justify killing (195). Our biggest enemy is these types of times where we are afraid of being killed and will do anything for survival. “Eternal” means outside of time. Poetry is outside of prose or linear time. It is the “space” and “time” to act the way we should.  Job keeps his dignity in “war” time because he is able to create a space of poetic time. Poetry can be a tactic to help us keep our dignity and faith in times when we have trouble hearing friendly voices.

 

                                    Works Cited

 

Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Poetry. New York: Basic Books Inc., 1985 (8?).

 

Alter, Robert and Kermode, Frank. The Literary Guide to the Bible. Cambridge, MA:

Harvard UP, 1987.

 

Anderson, Bernhard W. with Steven Bishop. Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak for us

Today. 3d Ed. Louisville and London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000.

 

Berry, Donald. The Psalms and Their Readers: Interpretative Strategies for Psalm 18.

            Sheffield: JSOT UP, 1993.

 

________. Introduction to Wisdom and Poetry of the Old Testament. Nashville, TN:

            Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1995.

 

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Prison. Bethge, Eberhard, ed. New York:

            Touchstone Press, 1997.

 

Brueggemann, Walter. Spirituality and the Psalms. Fortress: Minneapolis, 2002.

 

Carmody, Timothy. Introduction to the Bible. (Class notes on “Word.doc”)

 

Certeau, Michel de. ThePactice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: U of California Press, 1988.

 

Fisch, Harold. Poetry with a Purpose: Biblical Poetics and Interpretation. Bloomington

and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1988.

 

Frye, Northrop.  The Great Code: The Bible and Literature. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace

and Jovanovich, 1982.

 

Kellenberger, James. “The Fool of the Psalms and Religious Epistemology.”

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. 45. (1999): 99-113.

 

Kuske. Martin. The Old Testament as the Book of Christ: An Appraisal of Bonhoeffer’s

Interpretations. Trans. S.T. Kimbrough Jr. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976

 

Holladay, William L. The Psalms Through Three Thousand Years: Prayerbook of a

Cloud of Witnesses.  Fortress: Minneapolis, 1996.

 

Mays, James. The Lord Reigns: A Theological Handbook to the Psalms. Louisville:

Westminster John Knox Press, 1995.

 

Murray, John Courtney. The Problem of God: Yesterday and Today. London and New

Haven: Yale UP, 1964. 

 

Robertson, David. The Old Testament and the Literary Critic. Philadelphia: Fortress,

1977.

 

Schökel, Luis Alonso. A Manual of Hebrew Poetics. Trans. Adrian Graffy. Rome:

Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 1988.

 

The New Oxford Annotated  Bible 3d ed. Michael D. Coogan, ed. Oxford, New York:

Oxford UP, 2001.

 

 

                              Psalm 22

 

                 To the leader: according to the Deer

                of the Dawn. A Psalm of David

 

1              My God, my God, why have you

                                forsaken me?

                Why are you so far from helping

                                me, from the words of my

groaning?

2              O my God, I cry by day, but you do

not answer;

                And by night, but find no rest.

 

3              You are holy,

                                enthroned on the praises of Israel.

4              In you our ancestors trusted;

                                they trusted, and you delivered

them.

5              To you they cried, and were saved;

                                in you they trusted, and were not

put to shame.

 

6              But I am a worm, and not human;

                                scorned by others, and despised by

the people.

7              All who see me mock at me;

                                they make mouths at me, they

                                                shake their heads;

8              “Commit your cause to the Lord; let

                                                him deliver-

                                let him rescue the one in whom he

                                                delights!”

 

9              Yet it was you who took me from the

                                                womb;

                                you kept me safe on my mother’s

                                                breast.

10            On you I was cast from my birth,

                                and since my mother bore me you

                                                have been my God.

11            Do not be far from me,

                                for trouble is near

                                and there is no one to help.

 

12            Many bulls encircle me,

                                strong bulls of bashan surround

                                                me;

13            They open wide their mouths at me,

                                like a ravening and roaring lion.

 

14            I am poured out like water,

                                and all my bones are out of joint;

                my heart is like wax;

                                it is melted within my breast;

15            My mouth is dried up like a

                                                potsherd,

                                and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

                                you lay me in the dust of death.

 

16            For dogs are all around me

                                a company of evil doers

                                                encircles me.

                My hands and feet have shriveled;

17            I can count all my bones

                They stare and gloat over me;

18            they divide all my clothes among

                                                themselves,

                                 and for my clothing they cast lots.

 

19            But you O Lord, do not be far

                                                away!

                                O my help, come quickly to

                                                My aid!

20            Deliver my soul from the sword,

                                my life from the power ofthe

                                                dog!

21            Save me from the mouth of the

                                                lion!

 

                From the horns of the wild oxen you

                                Have rescued me.

22            And I will tell your name to my

                                                brothers and sisters;

                                in the midst of the congregation I

                                                will praise you:

23            You who fear the Lord, praise him!

                                All you offspring of Jacob, glorify

                                                Him;

                                Stand in awe of him, all you

                                                Offspring of Israel!

24            For he did not despise or abhor

                                the affliction of the afflicted;

                he did not hide his face from me,

                                but heard when I cried to him.

 

25            From you comes my praise in the     

                                                great congregation;

                                my vows I will pay before those

                                                who fear him.

26            The poor shalleat and be satisfied;

                                those who seek him shall praise the

                                                Lord;

                                May your hearts live forever!

 

27            All the ends of the earth shall

                                                remember

                                and turn to the Lord;

28            For dominion belongs to the Lord,

                                and he rules over the nations.

 

29            To him, indeed, shall all who keep

                                                in the earth bow down;

                                before him shall bow all who go

                                                down to the dust,

                                and I shall live for him;

30            Posterity will serve him;

                                future generations will be told

                                                about the Lord,

31            and proclaim his deliverance to a

                                                people yet unborn,

                                saying that he has done it.