Apr 23, 2014

The Psalms: Language for All Seasons of the Soul: A Review

Schmutzer, Andrew J., and David M. Howard Jr., eds. The Psalms: Language for All Seasons of the Soul. Chicago: Moody, 2013. 
This work is an interesting collection of essays and sermons on the Psalms divided into five categories: Part 1: Psalms Studies in the 21st Century: Where We Have Been and Where We are Going; Part 2: Psalms of Praise: Expressing Our Joys; Part 3: Psalms of Lament: Expressing Our Sorrows and Pain; Part 4: Considering the Canon: Psalter as a Book; and Part 5: Communicating the Psalms: Bringing the Psalms into the Present Day. Most of the essays were originally presented in the Psalms and Hebrew Poetry consultation/section of the Evangelical Theological Society and include 18 contributors, including well known evangelicals such as Bruce K. Waltke, Willem A. VanGemeren, Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., and John Piper.

These diverse essays are well chosen and helpful. Three will be noted here. I remember sitting in on Waltke’s presentation at ETS and I looked forward to revisiting presentation in print form. I suspect that not everyone will appreciate the anecdotal approach to “Biblical Theology of the Psalms Today: A Personal Perspective,” but I enjoyed it. It is a great reminder of how Scripture takes us on a lifetime journey of understanding and appreciation. Although not as personally satisfying, Willem VanGemeren’s “Entering the Textual World of the Psalms: Literary Analysis” is a very nice summary of recent academic studies in the Psalms. This is a good essay to assign as reading for introductory courses on the Old Testament or the Psalms. An essay that I found spiritually edifying was “The Transformation of Pain into Praise in the Individual Lament Psalms by Daniel Estes. This work highlights the importance of meditating on the Lord as demonstrated through the psalmists.

The Psalms: Language for All Seasons of the Soul is better suited for academic than lay study. A number of the essays require at least a basic knowledge of Hebrew and it is unlikely that those who lack at least some seminary-level training will be able to profit from a few of the essays. That being said, those with academic experience can profit much from the work here.

Much thanks to the folks at Moody for providing the volume used in this unbiased review.


Todd Bolen said...

Thanks, Charles. I'm teaching a new course on Psalms in the fall and it is helpful to learn about this book.

Charles Savelle said...

Glad it was helpful. For an introductory text, you might want to look at C. Hassell Bullock's Encountering the Book of Psalms.