donderdag 21 februari 2013

Review of: James Limburg, Psalms (Westminster Bible Companion), Westminster John Knox, 2000; in: Interpretation

James Limburg, Psalms (Westminster Bible Companion), Westminster John Knox, 2000.

Review in: Interpretation 2002 56: 98
Review door: J. Clinton Mccann, Jr.
Gevonden op:

by James Limburg
Westminster Bible Companion. Westminster John Knox, Louisville, 2000.
509 pp. $29.95. ISBN 0-664-25557-4.

IT IS CLEAR from the very beginning of this volume that Limburg's work grows out of a lifetime of reading, meditating upon, teaching, and preaching the Psalms. The editors of the series aim at assisting the laity of the church, especially lay teachers, and they "hope this series will serve the community of faith, opening the Word of God to all the people, so that they may be sustained and guided by it" (p. xii). This hope is wonderfully fulfilled by Limburg’s contribution.

Limburg’s mastery of the field of Psalms study is evident. He is fully conversant with the conclusions of the form-critical and cult-functional methods that dominated Psalms study for most of the twentieth century, as well as with the results of the more recent rhetorical approach to the Psalms and the even more recent scholarly attention given to the shape and shaping of the Psalter as a book.

Even more impressive is Limburg's ability to draw upon the results of Psalms scholarship to communicate theological insights. Limburg appeals to an array of biblical scholars, but he also cites a wealth of other sources as he illustrates the claims of the Psalms on the life of the church and on the lives of believers (from Soren Kierkegaard to Ray Bradbury, and from Felix Mendelssohn to Willie Nelson). Limburg frequently illustrates the theological claims of the Psalms by citing rabbinical tales; he regularly relates psalms to the hymnic tradition of the Church and often discusses their use in the Lectionary and the Christian calendar; and he consistently puts the psalms in conversation with other biblical material from both Old and New Testaments.

Limburg's style throughout the volume is lively, clear, and accessible. For example, he makes the simple but brilliant suggestion that readers understand the Hebrew word hesed as "amazing grace" (pp. 348,463). Also, Limburg makes abundantly clear the ecological significance and implications of the Psalms (and not just when commenting on so-called creation psalms like Pss 8 and 104). All in all, it would be hard to imagine a commentary that more successfully fulfills the editors* intention to communicate the meaning and relevance of the Psalms to a lay audience.

As one who has devoted much of his career to commenting upon the Psalms and proclaiming their relevance for church and world, I trust that Limburg's work will be widely used not only by lay people in the church but also by students, pastors, and teachers in a variety of settings.


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