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The Structural Scheme Ordering Book II of the Psalter (Psalms 42–72).
A Synchronic Analysis

Mod.: R.P. Gianguerrino Barbiero, S.D.B.

The thesis addresses a lacuna in academic research regarding Book II of the Psalter. Unlike the majority of previous works that focused mainly on the smaller groups that comprise Book II, it consists in an analysis of the interrelation between adjacent psalms and that between small clusters of psalms, followed by a study of the first group of Korah (Ps 42–49: Korah I), the Asaph Ps 50, and the second group of David (Ps 51–72: David II) on the macro-level in order to uncover the hermeneutical implications that emerge from the present structure of the collection. The thesis examines various lexical, thematic, and rhetorical links that span the whole of Book II, undergird its basic organisation and elucidate its coherence. David II, which has often been studied in relation to the first Davidic group (Ps 3–41), is analysed solely in conjunction with Korah I which is closer to it and with which it forms Book II.

Intertextual readings confirm the exilic milieu to which the lament Ps 42–44 are  claimed to point. This sets the tone for the whole book, though the self-professed innocence in Ps 42–44 runs counter to the Deuteronomistic interpretation of the exile. The successive Ps 45 constitutes a manifestation of a human resolve to persevere in one’s dedication to God who is allegorically represented by the king. Here, the suitability of the marriage metaphor positioned between the exilic discourse (confirmed by its links with related prophetic literature) and the depiction of a glorious Zion is underscored. Ps 45–48, which function as an expression of the statement in 42,9 concerning songs articulated in distress, are followed by a sapiential psalm which, though deeply connected to Ps 42–48, bears strong links with Ps 50 and 51. Ps 49 has a judgmental role vis-à-vis the peoples of the world, this being intensified in Ps 50 which is addressed specifically to the covenanted people of God. It transpires that the latter’s sins are not unlike those of the former. Besides several other factors, the hermeneutical relationship between Ps 49 and 50 also emerges from the suitability of having a theophanic manifestation immediately follow upon a description of human depravity. Thus, a smooth transition across the inner seams of Book II is demonstrated – this gelling effect consolidates its unity.

The divine lawsuit and Davidic repentance embodied in Ps 50 and 51 respectively have, primarily, a role in correcting assertions made in Korah I and in responding to questions raised therein. Partly due to the Davidic biographical note of Ps 51, these two psalms are made to bear upon the whole of David II which hence is not only marked by a penitential tone but also has a clear didactic function in relation to Korah I. In this respect, David’s innocence is asserted vis-à-vis others and not vis-à-vis God, thus challenging the position taken in Ps 44. Redactional indicators furnished by genre tags aid in strengthening thematic correspondences between Korah I and David II and bolster their quasi identical genre macrostructure (lament – hymn – lament). Such parallelism enhances the similarities and contrasts between the two main groups, thereby showing how David II interprets and refines Korah I, that is, how David’s life sheds light on the debacle of the exile. The Jenseits and Diesseits interpretations with which Korah I and David II respectively conclude (and where the poor feature clearly) further develop the exilic underpinnings present in their initial laments. Unlike the royal Ps 45 which answers exilic concerns, Book II closes off with a royal psalm which intrinsically focuses on the poor, that is, those whose situation is comparable to that of the exile.