The narrative effect of Book IV of the Hebrew Psalter.
Wallace, Robert E.
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This dissertation asserts that a reader encountering the canonical Hebrew Psalter can read from the beginning and capture a sense of plot. The turning point of the story is Book IV (Psalms 90-106). It is at this point in the story that the questions of the failure of the Davidic monarchy are answered. Recent approaches to the Psalter (championed by Gerald Wilson and Nancy deClaissé-Walford) have suggested that the Psalter was redacted purposely to help the exilic and post-exilic communities answer the apparent failure of the Davidic covenant. According to these proposals, the first two books in the Psalter set up the importance of the Davidic monarchy and the Davidic covenant. The third book of the Psalter expresses the problem of Yahweh’s apparent rejection of the Davidic covenant which culminates in Psalm 89. Book V ultimately leads the reader to the fact that Yahweh should be king over Israel and over the nations. Such studies have emphasized the importance of the beginning of Book IV, calling Book IV the "theological pivot point." These approaches have focused on Psalm 90, and how this psalm shifts the reader’s focus to the importance of the Mosaic covenant in light of the failure of the Davidic covenant. As this analysis demonstrates, Book IV does not simply change the focus of the reader to the Mosaic Covenant at its beginning, the book emphasizes Moses throughout. Psalms 90-100 speak with a “Mosaic voice” and Psalms 101-106 demonstrate a "Mosaic remembrance." Book IV as a unit answers the concern of Book III—the failure of the Davidic Covenant. Book IV also introduces the concern of Book V by proclaiming the necessity to focus the attention of the reader on YHWH as King in Psalms 93-100.