The Presence Of The Shepherd: A Rhetographic Exegesis Of Psalm 23 -- By: Annang Asumang

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 09:1 (Mar 2010)
Article: The Presence Of The Shepherd: A Rhetographic Exegesis Of Psalm 23
Author: Annang Asumang

The Presence Of The Shepherd:
A Rhetographic Exegesis Of Psalm 23

Annang Asumang1


Interpreters have rightly put the immensely comforting power of Psalm 23 to its depiction of the personal care and attention that Yahweh, the Shepherd provides His people. It is also widely accepted that the movement and pilgrimage theme in the psalm adds to the effect of encouraging the weary, fearful or dispirited believer. One aspect of the Psalm, whose contribution remains to be investigated however, is the role of the various locations within which the personal care and attention is provided, as well as the changing spatial positions between the Shepherd and the psalmist. Using the Bible Study method of rhetography, this paper delineates how these spatial dimensions in Psalm 23 contribute to its celebrated effect. It concludes by encouraging song writers and worship leaders to include the rhetographic aspects of the psalm in their song writing.

1. Introduction

One advantage of the burgeoning diversity of Bible study methods is that they enable the re-examination of various aspects of familiar passages which have hitherto not been fully explored. One such category of methods which has already shown significant promise in this direction is the socio-rhetorical method (e.g. Witherington 2006; De Silva 2000; Loubser 2005:127-140; Robbins 1996a; Watson 1998:67-115; Oosthuizen 1997:64-91; Adams 1995:381-384; Ledbetter 1993:289-301). Improving on its parent specialty of rhetorical criticism, the basic assumption of the socio-rhetorical method is that biblical texts were written for the purpose of persuading their first readers and hearers and so change their thoughts, beliefs, feelings, attitudes, and behaviour. In this regard, and given the literary, socio-historical, and cultural

contexts of the inspired authors and their first readers, the method analyzes how the text was rhetorically designed to achieve the purpose for which it was written. Questions as to the historical and formational value of the text to their first recipients, as well as their place in the biblical canon for the people of God at large, are thereby also answered.

Clearly, the Spirit-inspired nature of Scripture implies that though this basic assumption concerning the rhetorical design of the text is correct, it is an inadequate premise for studying the Bible. In addition to the above, it must also be assumed from the beginning that the text achieves its effect, not just through its rhetorical strategies, but also by the simple fact that it i...

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