A psalm ( plural psalms ) (from Gr. Ψαλμός psalmós "string play, song") is a poetic religious text in Judaism and Christianity , often with a liturgical function. The term is mainly used for the 150 poems, songs and prayers of the book of psalms of the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament (also called psalter ). In addition, there are other texts in biblical and extra-biblical literature, in tradition and prayer practice, which are referred to as psalms.
The Greek name ψαλμός ( psalmós ) comes from the verb ψάλλειν ( psallein ) = "to strike the strings". It describes a song with string accompaniment and can literally be translated as a "plucked song". The Greek name gives the Hebrew word מִזְמור( mizmor ) again, which is described as " cantilating spoken song with string accompaniment".
|Masoretic text||Septuagint (LXX)||annotation|
||Count the same|
|Ps 9-10||Ps 9||LXX counts Pss. 9 u. 10 as a psalm|
|Ps 11-113||Ps 10-112||Hebrew count precedes 1|
|Ps 114-115||Ps 113||LXX counts 114 u. 115 as a psalm|
|Ps 116||Ps 114-115||Greek counted as two psalms; Cut after 9 verses|
|Ps 117-146||Ps 116-145||Hebrew count precedes 1|
|Ps 147||Ps 146-147||Greek counted as two psalms; Cut after 11 verses|
||Count the same|
The Hebrew count is used in both the Jewish and Protestant traditions. Also in modern Catholic Bible editions and in Wikipedia. The Greek count is used in the Vulgate and all liturgical books based on it. In more modern editions, both statements can often be found, with the Greek in brackets, e.g. Ps.46 (45).
History of the text form
The psalms have models in ancient oriental literature, but are unparalleled in their drama and personal-historical statement. Origin, time of creation and “ seat in life ” of the individual psalms vary greatly depending on the occasion. The oldest psalms in the Bible probably come from the time before the Babylonian exile and from the time of the Israelite kings.
Form and genera
The psalms show the typical technique of Hebrew poetry, the parallelism membrorum ("parallel formed limbs"). Two (or seldom three) consecutive lines are designed as belonging together, in that the statement of the first line of verse is presented in the following from a different perspective. This can be done as a repetition (“synonymous parallelism”), as a contrast (“antithetical parallelism”) or as a continuation (“synthetic parallelism”) of the statement.
According to their content and form, psalms are divided into different genres. This categorization goes back to the genre- historical investigations of Hermann Gunkels and Joachim Greich , whereby transitions between the forms are frequent and each psalm has "a specific form and an individual biography" that makes it unique as a prayer:
- Lament Psalm (e.g. Ps 6 EU , but also large parts of the Lamentations of Jeremiah )
- Prayer psalm (e.g. Ps 5 EU , Ps 17 EU )
- Praise psalm (e.g. Ps 113 EU , Ex 15.1 EU )
- Thanksgiving psalm (e.g. Ps 30 EU , Ps 116 EU )
- Zion's psalm as a hymn to the temple or to Jerusalem (e.g. Ps 46 EU , Ps 48, Ps 76 EU )
- Royal psalm as an accompaniment to ritual celebrations of the Jerusalem kingdom (e.g. Ps 2 EU )
- Wisdom Psalm (e.g. Ps 1 EU )
- Pilgrimage songs (e.g. Ps 113 EU , Ex 15.1 EU ).
The lament often leads to a " turning point " at which the prayer after divine rescue action changes into praise and thanks.
Psalms in the Hebrew Bible and in the Second Temple Period
Most of the psalms can be found in the book of psalms, but individual psalms can also be found outside of this book. In the Torah , for example, the Song of Victory on the Red Sea ( Ex 15.1–18 EU ) or the Song of Moses ( Deut 32.1–43 EU ) should be mentioned. Hymns and thanksgiving songs are the Deboralied and the “Magnificat of Hanna” ( 1 Sam 2,1–11 EU ). There are also psalms from the Song of Songs , the Book of Job and the books of the prophets (e.g. Jer 17–18 EU , Isa 12.1–6 EU ). The psalm of Jonah from the belly of the whale ( Jonah 2, 3–10 EU ) is particularly well known . The lamentations of Jeremiah can also be counted among the psalms. Also to be mentioned are David's prayers in the 2nd book of Samuel (2Sam 1,7; 22 = Ps 18; 2Sam 23,1ff).
Not part of a biblical canon is the collection of 18 poems known as the Psalms of Solomon , probably from the 1st century BC, which were ascribed to King Solomon . The Septuagint has a 151st Psalm that is not in the Hebrew Psalms Book.
Example: For the song of Hanna (1Sam 2,1-10)
The classification of the genre as a song of thanks for the individual or as a hymn can be discussed.
The designation “Magnificat of Hanna” suggests itself because Luke 1.46–55 (Magnificat of Mary) seems to receive 1Sam 2,1–10. Evidence for this would be a few key terms (σωτηρία / σωτήρ, δυνατος, θρόνος, ...).
Frequent word fields in 1Sam 2,1-10 are on the one hand to be high / increase and on the other hand to fall / lower. A concentric structure seems to form around v. 6f (YHWH - Lord of death + life), which also contains the theological core statement. Furthermore, key topics are:
- Elevation of the praying / oppressed - decline of the haughty
- Statements of God:
- Incomparable Adonais
- Adonai as a knowing judge
- Lord of life and death
Psalms in the New Testament and in the Christian liturgy
Some texts from the New Testament are assigned to the genus “Psalm” because they presuppose and take up this textual tradition or even go back to Jewish models. Therefore, the Magnificat ( Lk 1.46–55 EU ), the Benedictus ( Lk 1.68–79 EU ) and the Nunc dimittis ( Lk 2.29–32 EU ) are sometimes explicitly referred to as Psalms (mostly as Cantica ). The Philippians hymn ( Phil 2.5–11 EU ) also belongs to this series.
Christianity, which emerged from Judaism, adopted the Psalms - especially the complete book of Psalms of the Old Testament - as the basis of its own prayer language . Many psalms were interpreted in such a way that they refer to Jesus Christ or that he himself speaks in them. One of the most famous psalms is Psalm 23 with the title "The Lord is my Shepherd". This addresses the protection and security in the "House of the Lord".
In the Christian churches , most of the liturgical forms of singing go back to the psalms. The singing of psalms on different melodic models is called psalmody . Above all, the psalms (sung or spoken) form the main content of the Liturgy of the Hours . There they are regularly completed with the Trinitarian doxology Gloria Patri . In addition, since early church times the singing of freely composed hymns has played a large part in all liturgical traditions. The German Reformation created the genre of the vernacular church hymn , for which psalms were often brought into rhyme and stanzas. In the Reformed tradition, the psalm song following Calvin was long considered the only legitimate chant for worship ( Geneva Psalter ). Almost all sacred poems to this day are shaped by psalm motifs and psalm language.
- Inka Bach , Helmut Galle: German psalm poetry from the 16th to the 20th century. De Gruyter, Berlin [a. a.] 1989, ISBN 3-110-12162-X .
- Klaus Berger : Psalms from Qumran. Dead Sea prayers and hymns. Insel, Frankfurt / Leipzig 1997, ISBN 3-458-33597-8 .
- Erhard S. Gerstenberger : Art. Psalm. In: Neues Bibellexikon , Volume 3. Benziger, Düsseldorf / Zurich 2001, ISBN 3-545-23076-7 , Sp. 208-209.
- Hermann Gunkel , Joachim Greich : Introduction to the Psalms. The genres of religious lyric poetry of Israel. Göttingen 1933 (reprint 1975), ISBN 3-52-551663-0 .
- Frank-Lothar Hossfeld , Erich Zenger : The Psalms I. Psalm 1-50. The New Real Bible. Echter, Würzburg 1993, ISBN 3-429-01503-0 .
- Johannes Schnocks, Psalmen , Grundwissen Theologie (UTB 3473), Paderborn 2014, ISBN 978-3825234737 .
- Benedikt Schwank : Psalms in the mouth of Jesus. In: Erbe und Einsatz, Vol. 80 (2004), pp. 236–246.
- Klaus Seybold : The Psalms. An introduction. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1991, 2nd edition, ISBN 3-17-011122-1 .
- Erich Zenger : The Book of Psalms. In: Erich Zenger: Introduction to the Old Testament. Kohlhammer Study Books Theology, 1.1. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart et al. 2004, 5th edition, ISBN 3-17-012037-9 , pp. 348-370.
- Reinhard Müller: Psalms (AT). In: Michaela Bauks, Klaus Koenen, Stefan Alkier (Eds.): The Scientific Biblical Lexicon on the Internet (WiBiLex), Stuttgart 2006 ff.
- Psalmen.de : The biblical psalms for reading and listening in the translation by Emil Kautzsch to: Emil Kautzsch (Hrsg.): Textbibel des Alten und Neuen Testament. Mohr, Tübingen 1894, 2nd edition 1896, 3rd edition 1911.
- ES Gerstenberger, Art. Psalm , Col. 208.
- Frank-Lothar Hossfeld, Erich Zenger: The Psalms I. Psalm 1-50 . The New Real Bible. Echter, Würzburg 1993, p. 5.
- Erich Zenger : The Book of Psalms, in: Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 360.
- Hermann Gunkel , Joachim Greich: Introduction to the Psalms .
- Erich Zenger: Introduction to the Old Testament , p. 362.
- Klaus Berger (Ed.): Psalms from Qumran.