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The Psalms of Solomon

The Psalms of Solomon: Language, History, Theology

Eberhard Bons
Patrick Pouchelle
  • Book Info
    The Psalms of Solomon
    Book Description:

    A fresh analysis of that sheds new light on the Psalms of Solomon

    Researchers whose work focuses on the Psalms of Solomon, experts on the Septuagint, and scholars of Jewish Hellenistic literature take a fresh look at debates surrounding the text. Authors engage linguistic, historical, and theological issues including the original language of the psalms, their historical setting, and their theological intentions with the goal of expanding our understanding of first-century BCE Jewish theology.


    New methods applied to open questions of authorship and historical contextFocusd scholarly attention on a work of theological and literary importanceRevised essays originally presented at the First International Meeting on the Psalms of Solomon

    eISBN: 978-1-62837-043-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Eberhard Bons and Patrick Pouchelle

    The idea of organizing a conference on the Psalms of Solomon began in autumn, 2012, during a telephone conversation between two Old Testament scholars, Eberhard Bons (University of Strasbourg, France) and Markus Witte (Humboldt Universität, Berlin, Germany). Both of them had students who were working on the same neglected corpus of the Psalms of Solomon: Patrick Pouchelle, who had written a master’s thesis on Ps. Sol. 13, and Sven Behnke, who was preparing a doctoral dissertation on Ps. Sol. 14. An initial contact between the two young scholars was soon accomplished. Patrick Pouchelle and Sven Behnke were convinced that the...

  4. The Psalms of Solomon as a Historical Source for the Late Hasmonean Period
    (pp. 7-30)
    Benedikt Eckhardt

    The Psalms of Solomon are an important historical source for the history of late Second Temple Judaism. While most scholars would probably agree with that statement, it is worth reconsidering what it actually means. Is it their content that marks the Psalms of Solomon as a historical source? Or, is it only their presumable date? For what sort of historical knowledge can they be regarded as a source? Or, in short, what do they prove? And, of primary importance, what is meant by “historical source”?

    This is an old question that has found many different answers in the course of...

  5. Reflections on the Original Language of the Psalms of Solomon
    (pp. 31-48)
    Jan Joosten

    Although they have come down to us in Greek and Syriac only, there is near unanimity among specialists that the Psalms of Solomon were originally written in Hebrew.¹ This consensus rests on several considerations. The Psalms almost certainly originated in Jerusalem over a rather short period following the conquest by Pompey in 63 BCE. In this time and locale, religious literature may be expected to be written in Hebrew. “Ort und Zweck entscheiden fur hebräisches Original,” writes Julius Wellhausen in his well-known authoritative style.² This general likelihood is taken to be confirmed by a variety of philological data: Hebraisms in...

  6. Philosophical Vocabulary in the Psalms of Solomon: The Case of Ps. Sol. 9:4
    (pp. 49-58)
    Eberhard Bons

    One of the most significant features of the Psalms of Solomon is its Greek style. There is no doubt that nearly each psalm of this collection is replete with so-called Hebraisms. It might suffice to quote some examples: the substantivated infinitive, for example, ἐν τῷ ὑπερηφανεύεσθαι τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν “when the sinner became proud” (Ps. Sol. 2:1); the expression οὐκ … πᾶς ἄνθρωπος “no person” instead of οὐδείς (Ps. Sol. 2:9)1; the use of προστίθημι with infinitive in the sense of “to continue” (Ps. Sol. 5:4); the expression καὶ εἶπα ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ μου “and I said in my heart” (Ps....

  7. Some Thoughts on and Implications from Genre Categorization in the Psalms of Solomon
    (pp. 59-78)
    Brad Embry

    The aim of this paper is to reevaluate the genre classification of the Psalms of Solomon. Need for such a reevaluation is evidenced by recent treatments of the document in which it is variously classified as psalmic, apocalyptic, and Deuteronomic. All of these classifications lack, more or less, a degree of accuracy that might aid in both the interpretation of the document by specialists and, perhaps more critically, the placement of the Psalms of Solomon as an interpretive partner for scholars of Second Temple period Jewish socio-religious movements and literary productions, including work on the New Testament. In 1991, Marinus...

  8. Perceptions of the Temple Priests in the Psalms of Solomon
    (pp. 79-96)
    Kenneth Atkinson

    The eighteen poems known as the Psalms of Solomon are a unique Second Temple period composition. They recount a Jewish community’s theological struggles to explain suffering and their response to a siege of Jerusalem by a foreign army. Written before the temple’s 70 CE destruction, they provide a rare glimpse of contemporary religious disagreements over halakah as well as internal Jewish political disputes.¹ What perhaps makes this collection of eighteen poems most interesting is its genre. Rather than a narrative account of the tumultuous events of the first century BCE, the writers of the Psalms of Solomon use the medium...

  9. Die Rede vom Schlaf in den Psalmen Salomos und ihr traditionsgeschichtlicher Hintergrund
    (pp. 97-114)
    Sven Behnke

    Innerhalb der Psalmen Salomos ist die Rede vom Schlaf weder Gegenstand einer vertieften systematisch-theologischen Reflexion noch lässt sie sich sprachlich oder inhaltlich als Einheit fassen. Sie stellt auch kein zentrales Thema der Gebetssammlung dar und dennoch verdient der ToposSchlafbesondere Aufmerksamkeit, da er innerhalb des Salomopsalters relativ breit bezeugt ist. So begegnet das Phänomen des Schlafes, zunächst ohne erkennbaren Zusammenhang, in fünf der insgesamt 18 Psalmen Salomos (Pss. Sol. 2,31; 3,1–2; 4,15–16; 6,3–4; 16,1–4).

    Wenn im Folgenden vom Schlaf in den Psalmen Salomos gesprochen wird, dann ist damit ein Wortfeld angesprochen, dessen Spektrum sich in...

  10. Prayers for Being Disciplined: Notes on ΠAIΔEϒΩ and ΠAIΔEIA in the Psalms of Solomon
    (pp. 115-132)
    Patrick Pouchelle

    It is commonly said of the Psalms of Solomon that their usage of παιδεύω (Pss. Sol. 3:4; 7:3; 13:8; 16:11; 17:42), παιδεία (7:9; 8:26; 10:2, 3; 13:7, 9, 10; 14:1; 16:13; 18:4, 7), and παιδευτής (8:29) means that the community that wrote this corpus suffered badly. In a recent contribution, Atkinson wrote that “the pious must not consider their present misfortune and suffering as a sign of God’s neglect, but as a form of divine chastisement that will lead to salvation.”¹ This opinion has not really evolved since Ryle and James. For them, the author of the Psalms of Solomon...

  11. The Formation of the Pious Person in the Psalms of Solomon
    (pp. 133-154)
    Rodney A. Werline

    The determination of the identity and social location of the authors of the Psalms of Solomon has proven to be notoriously difficult.¹ Two possibilities became especially attractive to some scholars. First, following Wellhausen, several generations of scholars saw the psalms as the product of Pharisaic circles.² As critical scholarship began to establish how little can be known about the Pharisees because of the numerous methodological pitfalls in using rabbinic sayings, the New Testament, and Josephus to reconstruct the group, this position began to lose proponents.³ The discovery of the Qumran scrolls invited comparisons between the scrolls and the Psalms of...

  12. What Would David Do? Messianic Expectation and Surprise in Ps. Sol. 17
    (pp. 155-174)
    Joseph L. Trafton

    In the introduction to their 1891 commentary on the Psalms of solomon, Herbert E. Ryle and Montague R. James addressed all of the areas that one would expect to find in the introduction to a commentary—editions, manuscripts, date, authorship, place of writing, original language, purpose, parallels with other literature—but with two significant additions: they included a section on Jewish parties and the religious thought of the document, and a section on the idea of the messiah in the document.¹

    Indeed, it is probably fair to say that it is precisely these two features of the Psalms of solomon...

  13. Responses
    (pp. 175-192)
    Kenneth Atkinson

    Patrick Pouchelle and Sven Behnke had two goals in mind when they planned the first international conference devoted to the Psalms of solomon: to reexamine established views and past studies and to develop new perspectives for future research. The two have succeeded in their goal. The present volume represents a significant advance in research on this valuable, but unfortunately neglected, corpus of poems that bear witness to some of the most significant historical events and theological developments of the second Temple period that shaped Judaism and Christianity. The following responses highlight some of the major aspects of each contribution to...

  14. Index of Ancient Sources
    (pp. 215-224)
  15. Index of Modern Authors
    (pp. 225-228)