Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 78:2 (Fall 2016)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

O. Palmer Roberston, The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2015. Pp. xxiii + 302. $21.99, paper.

The Psalms have long been of great interest to the church and the academy. They are rich with theology, imagery, and poetic expressions of human emotions in a fallen world. These passages have been studied with various approaches, but one of the neglected areas of consideration (at least historically) is the structural arrangement of the Psalms as a book. Over the past several decades, however, some scholars have shifted their attention to this issue, employing a canonical approach in the study of the Psalms (i.e., approaching the Psalter as a compiled book with an intended arrangement). Many have studied the Psalms and provided significant evidence for seeing an intentional arrangement for both the whole compilation and smaller sections within it. This has added to the discussion of interpretation of the psalms not merely as individual works, but also as passages that make up a larger context. O. Palmer Robertson’s new work, The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology, enters into this discussion and attempts to further develop a holistic understanding of the Psalter. His work examines the structures of each psalm book, outlining the theological movement of the Psalter. Efforts like this are definitely needed to provide a clearer picture of the “flow” of the Psalter from beginning to end.

Robertson begins by noting structural elements that play an important role in the arrangement of the Psalms. The five-book nature of the Psalter, psalm grouping by titles, the coupling of three Torah psalms with three Messianic psalms (Pss 1–2; 18–19; 118–119), and the Hallelujah psalms (Pss 104–105; 111–113; 115–117; 146–150) are just some of the basic structural elements that point to the Psalms as “a well-organized composition.” From here he moves on to consider the redemptive-historical framework of the Psalter in terms of God’s covenantal relationship with man. He provides exegetical support for the presence of the various covenants within the Psalter. While some of the evidence is more supportive than others, he does help to show that the progressive movement of God’s redemptive purposes is present in the book, and the concerns of the Davidic covenant take center stage in the flow of it.


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