The Uses of the Psalter -- By: Charles Lee Feinberg

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 105:420 (Oct 1948)
Article: The Uses of the Psalter
Author: Charles Lee Feinberg


The Uses of the Psalter

Charles Lee Feinberg

(Concluded from the April-June Number, 1948)

In a previous article we have discussed the theory of Mowinckel relative to an annual Feast of Divine Accession in Israel. In reviewing data from Jewish sources we find certain apparent confirmations of Mowinckel’s position. But do the monuments confirm the position taken by him on the Enthronement Festival? It was largely through a consideration of the Egyptian and Babylonian rituals and a comparison of them with the Psalter that brought him to his view. Hooke points out that in both ancient Babylonia and Egypt there was a “ritual pattern” in the celebration of the Festival of the New Year. Certain things were done to the king and by him in order to make sure the prosperity of the community for the ensuing year. The king, who was looked upon as divine, represented the god in the seasonal rituals, although the god himself was worshipped also. Erman has rendered one of the psalms sung at the New Year celebration to the god Horus who has vanquished his foes and taken his throne. Among the many gods of these lands one was marked out as the creator and giver of the fruits of the ground, and the earthly king was identified with him. At the annual feast in honor of these gods (Osiris among the Egyptians and Marduk among the Babylonians) the kingship of the god was proclaimed as the earthly monarch represented him. In realistic fashion this was dramatized by the rite of the ascent to the throne. The ceremonies were always accompanied by the recital of the creation drama. It was believed that, just as the god had originally made all things, he would repeat

the act of creation in giving productivity to the soil. The entire ritual was designed to bring about a reviving of nature. Thus its prime importance in the eyes of the people can be realized.1

The extreme plausibility of the theory advanced by Mowinekel and the evidence set forth in its confirmation do not decide the question with finality. There are some difficulties, and indeed refutations, connected with the view propounded. We must admit at the outset that Mowinckel has brought to bear upon the subject a vast amount of material as well as personal ingenuity. Keet, who finds so much of corroboration for the theory, is not slow to discern the vulnerable point in Mowinckel’s position. The Norwegian scholar fails utterly to prove that the Enthronement Festival was celebrated regularly each year. True, he has gone to the Biblical descriptions of David’s bringing the Ark in sacred procession to Zion and of Solomon’s setting it in the Temple, but he has not thereby proved that ritual acts of th...

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