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Claus Westermann, following Mowinckel, took a more mediating position and simplified the types of psalms into two: psalms of lament and psalms of praise.
He further subdivided the psalms of lament into either communal or individual, depending on the speaker, and he subdivided the psalms of praise into declarative (communal or individual) or descriptive, depending on the subject matter.
"The best solution is to regard the titles as early reliable tradition concerning the authorship and setting of the psalms. We can date some of the psalms that do not contain information about their writers in the title, if they have a title, by their subject matter. It seems likely that Ezra, the great renovator of postexilic Judaism, may have been responsible for adding these and perhaps putting the whole collection in its final form. There is some chronological progression, with David most in evidence in the first half, and a clear allusion to the captivity towards the close of Book V (Ps. But David reappears in the next psalm (138), and by contrast, the fall of Jerusalem had been lamented as far back as Psalm 74." Each of the five books or major sections of the Psalter ends with a doxology, and Psalm 150 is a grand doxology for the whole collection.
The titles, however, should not be taken as original or canonical." Not all the titles contain information about authorship. For example, David seems to have written Psalms 2 and 33 even though his name does not occur in the superscriptions (cf. Likewise Psalms 126 and 137 must have been late compositions dating from the time the Jews returned from Babylonian exile or shortly after that. The oldest record we have of the fivefold division of the Psalter comes from a Dead Sea scroll that dates to the first century A. As is true of modern hymnals, there are smaller collections of Psalms within the larger collections. The earliest evidence of the fivefold division of the Book of Psalms comes from the Qumran scrolls, which scribes copied early in the first century A. At least 30 partial or complete manuscripts of the Book of Psalms were found, the largest manuscript collection of any Bible book found there.
sitz im leben) that brought them into existence, rather than by their content.
He proposed seven types: hymns, community laments, songs of the individual, thank offering songs, laments of the individual, entrance liturgies, and royal psalms.
Many scholars have followed this form critical approach in their study of the Psalms as well as in other portions of the Old Testament.
It is important to observe parallelism, because failure to do so can result in erroneous interpretation.
For example, one might conclude that the writer is making an important distinction when all he is doing is restating the same idea in different words, in the case of synonymous parallelism. What is now the most common way of classifying the psalms originated with the German scholar Hermann Gunkel (18621932) at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Consequently the numbering of the verses in the Hebrew and English Bibles is often different, the first verse in the Septuagint and English texts usually being the second verse in the Hebrew text, when the psalm has a title. Two examples are the city name "Dan" in Genesis, and the city name "Rameses" in Exodus. This is because some translations, such as the Protestant English versions, come from the Masoretic (Hebrew) text.
Some critics of the Psalms have concluded that the titles are not reliable. Others, such as the Roman Catholic English versions, followed the Latin Vulgate translation, which was based on the Septuagint (Greek) text. Those David composed would have originated between about 1020 and 975 B. Asaph was a contemporary of David, so we can date his in approximately the same period.