Dated…but Good

Recently in preparation for an introduction to the Psalter, I ran across this quote from Brevard Childs (IOTS, 523). Though this is not a recent work, I found it interesting and worth sharing:

With all due respect to Gunkel, the truly great expositors for probing to the theological heart of the Psalter remain Augustine, Kimchi, Luther, Calvin, the long forgotten Puritans buried in Spurgeon’s Treasury, the haunting sermons of Donne, and the learned and pious reflections of de Muis, Francke and Geier. Admittedly these commentators run the risk, which is common to all interpretation, of obscuring rather than illuminating the biblical text, but because they stand firmly within the canonical context, one can learn from them how to speak anew the language of faith.

You would have to read the whole section to get the full impact of what he is saying, but any thoughts?


Author: Randy McKinion

Besides being a husband and father, I teach at Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH.

8 thoughts on “Dated…but Good”

  1. Excellent, I think he was right (unless I’m not reading the quote right). The men who were concerned with being immersed in the Psalter as opposed to chopping it up stand the best chance of getting it’s theology and unity right. It seems that many of the fellows he named saw the Psalter as a unit and not as a discombobulation of quotes.

    As an aside, I like what Calvin said about the Psalter: It’s “an anatomy of all parts of the soul.”

  2. Thanks for the comment, Paul. I believe Childs is attempting to set the results of critical scholarship (specifically those of Gunkel) over against pre-critical scholarship. The point he is making is that form criticism, with its focus upon the position of a psalm in the religious practice of Israel, tends to cloud the rich theological message of the psalm that the community of faith participates in. Those men who read the psalm for what it says and in light of a complete biblical theology discovered best the deep theology of the psalter.


  3. Sorry, Paul, I wasn’t disagreeing with your first comment. I think your right. I was just expressing my opinion.

    On your other question, you would have to take my class. But seriously, I have come to the conclusion that the book of Psalms was intended to be read as a unit, i.e., as a book. At the very least it has been handed down to us with obvious compositional features that warrant more than the view that the individual psalms were placed together randomly.

    I’m not sure “seamlessness” would be the best expression of this, since in a composition such as the psalms, any observable “seams” may be a major clue that individual psalms were compositionally placed together. Perhaps I could do a post on this, but one that comes to my mind is how Psalms 1 and 2 are used as an apt introduction to the rest of the Psalter. They should be read along with the rest of the psalms, but they seem to be intentionally placed where they are in the whole Psalter as well as Book 1.

    Is this what you’re thinking? What do you think?

  4. Yes, that’s what I was looking for. I have come to similar conclusions which were cautiously solidified after 1)preaching through Psalm 1 and 2)reading through the whole Psalter a few times in our worship services. I would add that my understanding of “biblical theology” has also contributed to this (though I’m not a close follower of Vos). I remember reading a compelling examination of the Psalter’s use in Israel’s worship that made similar points (it might have been an article by Gerald Wilson…can’t remember). Thanks for your thoughts, helpful as always. Yes, you should do a series on this.–>

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