Friday, 2 October 2009

Law and Grace in Pss 15-24?

Many scholars consider the Psalms group 15-24 to be a consciously redacted whole. The so-called "torah-entrance" Psalms 15 and 24 frame the whole, forming the outer boundaries of chiasm with 19 in the middle (see the articles by Hossfeld & Zenger and Patrick Miller for the details). Barbiero (in Das erste Psalmbuch als Einheit, 1999) claims that one of the effects of this composition is to give a depth dimension to the concept of "righteousness" before God. In my post Is Ps 15 "softened" by Ps 24? I quoted his claim that the righteousness required as prerequisite for entrance into the sanctuary in Psalm 15 is supplemented by Psalm 19's confession that such righteousness is impossible (Ps 19:12-13): "It is only when YHWH forgives, and not out of one's own strength, that the worshipper can become innocent."

Barbiero goes on to make a similar statement concerning the entire collection of Psalms 15-24 (first in German, than my translation in italics):
Die drei Psalmen 22-23-24 sind darüber hinaus durch das Wort צדק verbunden (22,23; 23, 3; 24,5). In ihnen bekommt das Wort eine andere Betonung als in den Psalmen 15-18 (vgl. 15,2; 17,1.15; 18,21.25). War dort von menschlicher Leistung die Rede (die Gerechtigkeit war die Bedingung, in s Heiligtum Einlaß zu bekommen bzw. von Gott erhört zu werden), so ist hier die Gerechtigkeit vorwiegend eine Gabe Gottes. In 22,32 wird die צדקתו, die Gerechtigkeit Gottes verkündet, die sich durch die Rettungstat als solche erwiesen hat. In 23,3 ist von einer Führung Gottes durch die "Pfade der Gerechtigkeit" die Rede. Sie ist als eine Andeutung auf die Tora zu verstehen (vgl. 19,10). In 24,5 ist nun die צדקה die Gabe, die der (gerechte) Tempelbesucher von dem "Gott seines Heils" bekommt (p. 283).
In addition to this, the three Psalms 22-23-24 are connected by the word צדק (Pss 22:23; 23: 3; 24:5). In these Psalms, the word receives a different emphasis to the the one in Psalms 15-18 (cf. Pss 15:2; 17:1,15; 18:21,25). Whereas there the emphasis is on human accomplishment (righteousness is the condition for either entering the sanctuary or being heard by God), here the righteousness of God is primarily a gift of God. The righteousness of God (צדקתו) is proclaimed in Ps 22:32 as something which has been proved itself by an act of salvation. In Ps 23:3 there is talk of being led by God within the "paths of righteousness." This is to be understood as an allusion to the Torah (cf. Ps 19:10). In Ps 24:5 צדקה is now a gift, which the (righteous) visitor to the temple receives from "the God of his salvation" (p. 283).
What do you think? Does this work?

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