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Torah and Psalms:
Reading Psalms 1, 19 and 119 as indicative of a torah hermeneutic in the Psalter

MAHER, JOHN,KIERAN (2019) Torah and Psalms:
Reading Psalms 1, 19 and 119 as indicative of a torah hermeneutic in the Psalter.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This work seeks to establish the presence of a “torah movement” in the Psalter
through a reading of Psalms 1, 19 and 119. It situates itself in the tradition that
sees a shaping of the Psalter for personal study and devotion, but it also respects
the insights of earlier genre- and worship- focused exegesis.
A survey of samples of recent research establishes the currents of study
on the Psalter, from historical reconstructions of date and author to the genrebased insights of Gunkel and the worship settings of the Mowinckel School. It
then traces more recent study (Childs, Wilson, McCann) which seeks to
understand the shaping of the Psalter and the move from “performance” to
private study and devotion.
This work seeks to establish categorizations of the “torah movement” as
exemplified in these psalms, particularly what each of these psalms might
contribute to the understanding of this movement. Each psalm is examined in
terms of its genre, literary analysis and its canonical relations. Psalm 1 is
recognized as an entrée into the Psalter and the categorization of “didactic piety”
of the torah movement is proposed. Ps 19 offers a categorization of “creational
interpretation,” whereby the torah is understood as the interpreter of the
unheard voice of creation. Ps 119 offers a possibility for “unmediated torah
reception,” whereby torah is seen to offer guidance for the ethical and spiritual
life of the individual in a personal and immediate manner.
In a final moment, the manner in which this torah movement, as
exemplified in these three psalms, serves as a hermeneutic for the reading of the
Psalter is examined. Framed within the format of the reproductive, explicative
and normative interpretations which this hermeneutic offers, a number of psalms
are examined in order to ascertain how this hermeneutic might function and
where it enriches their interpretation. Understanding how the Psalter can be read
under the guidance of the angel torah allows for a sense of eschatological thrust,
security and ultimately the memory of praise

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Torah, Psalms.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Oct 2019 10:46

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