Psalm 73: An Analysis -- By: Leslie C. Allen

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 33:1 (NA 1982)
Article: Psalm 73: An Analysis
Author: Leslie C. Allen


Psalm 73: An Analysis

Leslie C. Allen

Any who have attempted to do consecutive work in the Book of Psalms will be familiar with their discouraging diversity. There are at least two tools available to the exegete to aid him in his task of letting a particular psalm speak to him: form criticism and rhetorical criticism. It is proposed to analyse Psalm 73 from these two aspects in order to shed light upon the path of the exegete. Form criticism, a particular method of comparing scripture with scripture, endeavours to find in the Psalter points of contact with other psalms and to deduce the type of composition employed. It is a useful approach so long as it is not allowed to obscure the individuality of a piece of literature. A helpful counterbalance to form criticism is rhetorical criticism. Putting individuality to the fore, it looks for the signposts the author himself erected to guide the hearer or reader on the right track.

I. Rhetorical Criticism

The structure of Psalm 73, by which is meant its arrangement in parts according to criteria discernible on literary grounds, should not be difficult to ascertain if a statement made by J. P. Ross in 1978 is correct. He wrote: ‘There is general agreement on the structure of the psalm’.1 Doubtless he meant that on the whole the subject matter gradually unfolds in a clear and logical progression. Ross himself has divided the psalm into two halves, vv. 1–14 and 15–28; each half he subdivided into five parts, vv. 1, 2–3, 4–9, 10–11, 12–14 and then vv. 15–17, 18–20, 21–22, 23–26 and 27–28, with appropriate labels for each subdivision. In fact general agreement proves to be an elusive quarry. Some sample analyses of Psalm 73, based on sequence of thought, will illustrate

Figure 1 The Logical Structuring of the Psalm

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