This course will look at the psalms and praises of Israel through the lenses of millennia of Jewish and Christian experience in prayer and praise. The psalms are the songbook of Israel, and must be studied in their own historical context. They have unmatched psychological power, attested in John Calvin’s treatment of the Psalms as the “anatomy of the soul,” the mirror to realign our affections. As Christians our only access to these praises is in Christ, the one who died with psalms on his lips. How do they sound different when their ubiquitous “I” includes Jesus of Nazareth, and in him, also us? St. Augustine will be a key interlocutor for the last claim.
We will attend to the history of use (and abuse) of psalms in the church, to critiques of those uses and abuses, and then we will deploy them ourselves. Assignments will include creative reappropriation of the psalms in our own day and various ministry contexts. We will emerge, one hopes, with a renewed love for the psalms of David, a more biting ability to curse like the bible does, wisdom about how to handle imprecations, and ebullience in offering such raucous praise as the 150th Psalm.
Available by Distance
Both synchronous & asynchronous.