Psalms

Samuel Terrien

Psalms
Psalms

Book Details

Series: Eerdmans Critical Commentary
Categories: Psalms
Tags: Technical

The Psalms: Strophic Structure and Theological Commentary Volume 1

In this monumental work, his most ambitious undertaking, the late Samuel Terrien brings together a lifetime of scholarship on Psalms, long the wellspring of Jewish spirituality as well as the main hymnal of the Christian church. The book’s insightful and clearly written introduction treats such subjects as the longevity and ecumenicity of the psalms, their Near Eastern background, the Hebrew text and ancient versions, their music, their strophic structure, their literary genre, their theology, and their relation to the New Testament. In the commentary itself Terrien freshly elucidates the theological significance of these collected poems by putting readers in touch with the formal versatility and religious passion of the psalmists themselves. While Terrien always engages in scientific exegesis before drawing theological conclusions, he is careful to allow full expression to the theological — and, especially, the doxological — voice of these unmatched spiritual songs. The result is a commentary that provides a link between the archaic language of Psalms and the intellectual demands of modern thinking and spirituality. Throughout his exposition Terrien shows great respect for the scribal testimony of the Jewish tradition, especially the consonants of the Masoretic text. He likewise displays great care in finding the most accurate meaning for Hebrew words of obscure origin. This meticulous work renders a translation of Psalms more reliable than those of Terrien’s predecessors. He also draws on many fruitful gains of structural analysis in discerning the strophic divisions within the Hebrew text. Often he finds unity of composition where earlier critics denied it. And for readers interested in specific aspects of translation and interpretation, Terrien has appended bibliographical lists of modern works on each psalm.

Pages: 544 pages
Publisher: Eerdmans
Published: 2003
ISBN-10: 0802827438
ISBN-13: 9780802827432

The Psalms: Strophic Structure and Theological Commentary Volume 2

In this monumental work, his most ambitious undertaking, the late Samuel Terrien brings together a lifetime of scholarship on Psalms, long the wellspring of Jewish spirituality as well as the main hymnal of the Christian church. The book’s insightful and clearly written introduction treats such subjects as the longevity and ecumenicity of the psalms, their Near Eastern background, the Hebrew text and ancient versions, their music, their strophic structure, their literary genre, their theology, and their relation to the New Testament. In the commentary itself Terrien freshly elucidates the theological significance of these collected poems by putting readers in touch with the formal versatility and religious passion of the psalmists themselves. While Terrien always engages in scientific exegesis before drawing theological conclusions, he is careful to allow full expression to the theological — and, especially, the doxological — voice of these unmatched spiritual songs. The result is a commentary that provides a link between the archaic language of Psalms and the intellectual demands of modern thinking and spirituality. Throughout his exposition Terrien shows great respect for the scribal testimony of the Jewish tradition, especially the consonants of the Masoretic text. He likewise displays great care in finding the most accurate meaning for Hebrew words of obscure origin. This meticulous work renders a translation of Psalms more reliable than those of Terrien’s predecessors. He also draws on many fruitful gains of structural analysis in discerning the strophic divisions within the Hebrew text. Often he finds unity of composition where earlier critics denied it. And for readers interested in specific aspects of translation and interpretation, Terrien has appended bibliographical lists of modern works on each psalm.

Pages: 464 pages
Publisher: Eerdmans
Published: 2003
ISBN-10: 0802827446
ISBN-13: 9780802827449

Reviews

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4.33333333333333 out of 5 based on 3 user ratings
Jeremy Pierce (parableman) August 7, 2009 3 5
Samuel Terrien's ECC is an odd duck. The two New Testament volumes released in the ECC are among the most detailed commentaries ever released on those books, but the only Old Testament volume isn't anywhere near as lengthy. It's very scholarly, with a lot on form, structure, and speculative historical settings (e.g. Psalm 45 is a long song written for Ahab and Jezebel). The author's specialty is strophic structure. This book is a major contribution to that field of study, though with any major contribution there will be many controversial aspects that haven't had a chance to stand up to criticism from other scholars. He especially focuses on what musical characteristics he thinks he can infer from the text, and he places the role of the musician in ancient Israel's worship on a level of importance rivaling prophets and priests, a move that I think is unwarranted even given the emphasis on musicians in Chronicles (and his placement of sages in this group seems to me to be even less motivated). He uses a lot of technical language without explaining it, sometimes with terms that aren't even standard, and he also uses archaic language in his translation of the psalms. I've read reviews that place this among the best commentaries on the psalms, but I had trouble getting much out of it when I was leading a Bible study on the psalms. There's some detail on language but not as much as Craigie, Tate, and Allen. Hossfeld and Zenger's level of detail dwarfs Terrien's. It was nearly useless to me in Bible study prep, dealing so little with the theological questions I was wrestling with or the connections with the New Testament that I wanted addressed. He does deal with theology, but it's only suggestive and hypothetical, usually without really handling complex questions and often read through the themes of his previous work (e.g. the elusive presence of God). It isn't that helpful on application sorts of questions either, though I don't expect that of a scholarly commentary. I do expect a little more of some other things that I didn't see here. Terrien just doesn't do much actual commenting on what the psalms say. Given how many people have recommended this pretty highly, I was seriously disappointed. [Full Review]
A theological and practical exegesis of the Psalms from an expert in Wisdom literature; with translation. [Full Review]
Denver Seminary Journal June 16, 2008 5 5
A theological and practical exegesis of the Psalms from an expert in Wisdom literature; with translation. [Full Review]

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