30 Dec 2021

'Gods' as judges: Jesus

After I posted 'Gods' as judges: Calvin and Zylstra, someone alerted me to this passage in the gospel of John:

The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and scripture cannot be broken), do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? (John 10:31-36)

Jesus here quotes from Psalm 82:6: "I say, 'You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince.'" John's account here appears to suggest that Jesus interpreted the "gods" in this text to refer not to mythological members of a divine council or to demonic spirits, but to human creatures. Thus Calvin and Zylstra draw on Jesus' own interpretation of the text.

20 Dec 2021

'Gods' as judges: Calvin and Zylstra

At the beginning of the month, I reviewed Robert Alter's Psalter and noted one area of disagreement, namely, his interpretation of Psalm 82, which he sees as a mythological vestige of Canaanite polytheism. By contrast, I've always seen it as God addressing earthly rulers claiming divinity who are remiss in their practical responsibilities to do justice within their jurisdictions. This is reflected in my own versification (© David T. Koyzis) as set to the proper Genevan tune:

Judging among divine pretenders,
in council God his verdict renders:
"How long," says he, "shall wickedness
be favoured over righteousness?
Give justice to the poor and needy,
rescue the helpless from the greedy.
Treat widows as is right and fair,
defend all orphans in your care.

17 Dec 2021

Salmos 12 e 110

The Comissão Brasileira de Salmodia has posted Psalm 12 on its YouTube channel:

The group has posted several Psalms in recent days, including Psalm 110:

13 Dec 2021

Obsessed with the Psalms

Some of us bring our passion for sung psalmody into the unlikeliest places.

1 Dec 2021

The Alter Psalter: a review

For many years now I have followed the Book of Common Prayer's thirty-day schedule for praying through the Psalms, and during November I used Robert Alter's translation in The Book of Psalms for morning and evening prayers. During this time I read his commentaries for each Psalm as well, and I learned quite a lot in the process. As promised, here is my review of the collection.

To begin, I must admit that I have little grasp of the Hebrew language other than the ability to recite the alphabet. This, of course, would put me at a disadvantage with respect to a substantive review, which I shall not attempt here. Thus I limit myself to describing what Alter does in his translation and commentary and to alerting my readers to some interesting peculiarities unique to his work. What I can tell you is that Alter's scholarship is highly respected, with some exceptions, by his colleagues, and his translation of the entire Hebrew Bible, of which this is a part, represents a significant milestone in disseminating knowledge of the Scriptures and could well be seen as the culmination of his life's work.