Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Is Ps 15 "softened" by Ps 19?

Barbiero, in his book Das erste Psalmbuch als Einheit: eine synchrone Analyse von 1-41 (Peter Lang, 1999) seems to think so. After highlighting all kinds of inter-textual links between the two Psalms (such as the terms, תמים [Pss 19:8; 15;2], צדק [Pss 19:10; 15:2]; אמת [Ps 19:10; comp. 8 and 15:2], and כבוד [Pss 19:2 and 15:4]), he adds that there is an Akzentverschiebung ("shift in emphasis"):
Hier ist aber eine wichtige Akzentenverschiebung zu bemerken. Zwischen der Beobachtung der Tora (19,12) und dem Gefallen JHWHs (19,15) steht in 19,13f. das Eingeständnis der eigenen Schuld, was in Ps 15 fehlt. Der Gedanke, daß der Gottesfürchtige schulding ist, ist Ps 15 fremd. Derjenige, der sich schuldig macht, gehört zu einer anderen Gruppe, er verdient nur "Verachtung" (בזה 15,4). Ps 19,13f. ist vom Bewußtsein der eigenen Schuld und der eigenen Unfähigkeit, schuldlos zu leben, geprägt. Der Frevel ist nicht nur bei den "anderen", sondern er ist beim Beter selbst, wie es auch die Geschichte Davids zeigt. Nur wenn JHWH vergibt, nicht aus eigener Kraft kann der Beter schuldlos sein (19, 14 "dann bin ich vollkommen").
Das Gesetz wird nicht aufgehoben, es wird aber durch die Verzeihung ergänzt. Neben das Prinzip der Gerechtigkeit wird deutlich das Prinzip der Gnade gestellt. (pp. 263-264).


Bob MacDonald said...

Psalm 19 is wholly different from Psalm 15. Three words shared doesn't do much for me. 19:2 kbod is 19:2 in the Hebrew numbering not the English. Now 15 and 24 - they are related. 101 scores the highest in my charts with respect to 15. Still good to read your posts. Hopw all is well.

Phil Sumpter said...

Hi Bob,

thanks for the Ps 101 tip; there really are a lot of connections. And thanks for pointing out the verse numbering system, I forgot to take that into account.

As for the connections between Pss 15 and 19, I think their common focus on torah is something. Barbiero isn't making an historical-critical statements, however, about the connections. His approach is purely synchronic (a bit too pure, for my taste), and so he is looking for all kinds of thematic and linguistic connections. Ps 19 stands directly in the middle of the composition 15-24, and thus through it's Torah section has a connection to both (Ps 14 also shares the creation horizon, plus adding some kind of eschatological movement [vv. 7-10]). Barbieor wants to know what happens when we read the Psalms together. He thinks that the confession of sin in Ps 19 and the plea for cleansing adds a note of "grace" to the "law" of Ps 15, and thus relativises its harshness. I'm making another post today with a similar claim for the whole group Pss 15-24.

Bob MacDonald said...

Thanks Phil - I like the suggestion of centrality - I may have come across this suggestion elsewhere but I haven't followed it up. From a rhetorical point of view, it could be supported by looking at the other psalms in the group and seeing if they reinforce a concentric reading.

Now as to 'softened', Psalm 19 words are servant and hidden, complete and great (coloured here). The prayer of the last 4 verses is the metaphorical result of the sun shining and warming the servant. If this is soft, then what is hard about psalm 15? Psalm 15 is a foretaste of the lifting up of psalm 24. This is the one who does not lift up a reproach against those near him. This is the righteous one of psalm 1. It is a softness to be desired and to be made known unto all (as Philippians commands). (Now that's English synchronicity - but a connection could be made across the chasm of the years!)

Phil Sumpter said...

what Barbiero seems to be saying is the those speaking in Ps 15 regard themselves as totally righteous, whereas in Ps 19 an element of self-criticism comes in. Righteousness is something that has to be "granted" by God,in a sense, as we have hidden faults that need purifying. One problem with this might be that in Ps 15 no one is claiming this kind of righteousness for themselves. It's more of a matter of question and answer. Elsewhere, however, others do make these claims for themselves (see the centre of Ps 18).

Bob MacDonald said...

I see the claim to righteousness in psalm 18:21-23 - I wonder though how I am to read וָאֶשְׁתַּמֵּר מֵעֲוֹנִֽי Is the writer saying he has no guilt? Or is the writer given power to keep himself from his iniquity? Does this king and prophetic sense apply to some righteous psalm writer/king in ancient Israel? No - even verse 28 indicates that darkness can belong to this writer and is in need of light.

The theophany (18:7-19) in response to the psalmist's distress (v4-6) anticipates the resurrection, redefining how I understand strength.

If there is a significant set of threads in these psalms, it would be fun to colour it.