The Evidence For A Logical Arrangement Of The Psalter -- By: Leslie McFall

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 62:2 (Fall 2000)
Article: The Evidence For A Logical Arrangement Of The Psalter
Author: Leslie McFall


The Evidence For A Logical Arrangement Of The Psalter

Leslie McFalli

Just who put the Psalter together in its present form is impossible to say. 1 Macc 7:17 quotes Ps 79:2–3 as scripture, and the prologue to Ben Sira, written about 117 b.c., presupposes the existence of the Writings (the recognized third division of the Hebrew Bible) of which the Psalms form the chief part.1 The most likely period was probably during the reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah. It is said of Nehemiah (465–445 b.c. as Governor of Judah2 ), “that he founded a library, and collected the books about the kings and prophets, and the writings of David” (2 Macc 2:13). Patrick Skehan used the fact that Ps 106:1, 47–48 is quoted in 1 Chr 16:35–36 to prove that Books 1–4 were fixed by the fourth century b.c.3 At the latest the Psalter in its final form was probably fixed by the mid-second century b.c. when it was translated into Greek.

The Psalter in its present form must be later than the latest of its poems, and these are held, by some, to be the post-Exilic Psalms 122, 126, 134 and 137.4 But others would date Psalms 44, 74, 79, and 83 in the Maccabean period.5 The wide spectrum of views over the authorship, Sitz im Leben and

date of each Psalm is a guarantee of perpetual division among scholars.6 Some are reluctant to attribute a single psalm to David7 while others are confident that the entire collection comes from his hand.8 For some they are all pre-Exilic,

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