Throughout the centuries the book of Psalms has been at the heart of Israelite and Christian spirituality. This can already be seen in the New Testament, which quotes the Psalms more than any other book of the Old Testament. The Psalms featured prominently in the theology and spirituality of the church fathers and the Protestant reformers ensured a privileged position for the Psalms in their own time, as well as in the centuries that followed. Since the end of the nineteenth century, there has been a marked decline in the liturgical singing and praying of the Psalms. However, they continue to inspire the prayer and worship of God’s people, both personally and corporately.

The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the Psalms, resources for and trends in the study of the Psalms, as ways to enhance its application in Christian living today.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Effectively engage with scholarly resources relevant for studying The Psalms
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the literary characteristics of The Psalms
  • Identify different Psalm types and their associated social contexts
  • Identify and explain key theological emphases in The Psalms
  • Assess and appreciate different contemporary applications of The Psalms, both individually and corporately

Course Outline

  • Unit 1: Introduction to the study of The Psalms
  • Unit 2: The Psalms as prayer and liturgy
  • Unit 3: The Psalms as theology
  • Unit 4: The Psalms as literature
  • Unit 5: Special themes in Psalm studies

Required Reading

Adeyemo T (Gen. ed.) 2006. Africa Bible Commentary: A One-Volume Commentary Written by 70 African Scholars. Nairobi: WordAlive Publishers.
Achtemeier E 1989. Preaching from the Old Testament. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.
Aidoo MS 2017. Shame in the Individual Lament Psalms and African Spirituality. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
Brown WP (ed.) 2014. The Oxford Handbook of the Psalms. Oxford: OUP.
Broyles CC 1999. Psalms. In New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody: Hendrickson.
Brueggemann W 2002. The Spirituality of the Psalms. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
________ 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Louisville: WJK.
Davidson R 1998. The Vitality of Worship: A Commentary on the Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
deClaisse-Walford NL (ed.) 2014. The Shape and Shaping of the Book of Psalms: The Current State of Scholarship. Atlanta: SBL Press.
Firth DG and Johnston PS (eds.) 2005. Interpreting the Psalms: Issues and Approaches. Downers Grove: IVP Academic.
Flint PW, Miller PD jr., Brunell A, and Roberts R (eds.) 2005. The Book of Psalms: Composition and Reception. Leiden: BRILL.
Gillingham S 2008. Psalms Through the Centuries (Vol. 1). Malden: Blackwell.
Goulder MD 1990. The Prayers of David (Psalms 51-72): Studies in the Psalter II. Sheffield: JSOT Press.
Hunter A 2011. An Introduction to the Psalms. In T&T Clark Approaches to Biblical Studies. New York: T&T Clark.
Magonet J 2004. A Rabbi Reads the Psalms (2 nd ed.). London: SCM Press.
Mays JL 1994. The Lord Reigns: A Theological Handbook to the Psalms. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.
McCann JC (ed.) 1993. The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. Sheffield: JSOT.
________ 1996. The Book of Psalms. The New Interpreter's Bible (12 vols.) Nashville: Abingdon.
Mitchell DC 1997. The Message of the Psalter: An Eschatological Programme in the Book of Psalms. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.
________ 2006. Lord, Remember David: G H Wilson and the Message of the Psalter. Vetus Testamentum 56, no. 4: 526–548.
Segal BJ 2013. A New Psalm: The Psalms as Literature. Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House.
Terrien SL 2003. The Psalms, Strophic Structure and Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.
Wenham GJ 2012. Psalms as Torah: Reading Biblical Song Ethically. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.
Zenger E (ed.) 2010. The Composition of the Book of Psalms. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium. Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters.