Wisdom and salvation history in the wisdom Psalms
Sim, Hyung Guen
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This dissertation is an exploration of the relationship of wisdom to salvation history in the book of Psalms. The notional starting point of this thesis is a conviction that there might be a juncture at which the two themes converge because in certain psalms such as Psalm 78, the Israelite concept of salvation appears to have a close relationship with the wisdom theme. In the history of Psalm interpretation so far, the concept of wisdom psalm has not been properly dealt with due to scholastic difficulty in ascertaining the clear criteria of a genre. The process of scrutinizing the history of interpretation showed that the Psalms in their final form were far more purposeful than were previously understood. The major guiding principles of the method employed are: (1) 'the canonical approach' of Brevard Childs; (2) 'the canonical criticism' of James Sanders; (3) 'the canonical process approach' of Bruce Waltke; (4) 'the Christo-canonical approach' of Jerry E. Shepherd; and (5) 'the communito-canonical approach' of deClaissé-Walford. This thesis made use of these methodological principles by attempting to read the Psalter from the beginning to the end, and by focusing mainly on the final stage of the Psalter proposed by B. Waltke as the third stage, or the final and complete Old Testament canon associated with the Second Temple, and by purposefully limiting the scope of our study to around the post-exilic period. Having dealt with the issue of classifying the wisdom psalm, the presence of the wisdom motif in many psalms which do not fall into the wisdom category serves to add a didactic dimension to the entire Psalter. In so doing, we reach a conclusion that what we are dealing with is not merely the wisdom psalms within the Psalms, but 'the wisdom Psalter' as a literary unit. Then, it can be said that the Psalter is not merely an anthology of individual psalms used for cult, but was meant to be read also as a source of min , an instruction. This means that every psalm in the Psalter has pedagogical potential, which may have been the ostensible intent of the editor(s) at the final stage of the formation of the Psalter. On this premise, this study attempts to set up a strategy to read the Psalms from the beginning to the end from book I up to book V as a wisdom Psalter, with a particular focus on how the wisdom motif relates to the salvation history motif. The question did not merely concern their interpretation as disjointed pieces, but also what their presence in the book of Psalter meant in terms of the relationship between wisdom and salvation history. This means that the study is influenced less by a historical and form critical approach, but more from a literary and canonical perspective.
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