Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What Should I Read on the Psalms?

Perhaps the greatest joy of my Masters year at Oak Hill was spending a whole year in the Book of Psalms. I read through the whole thing quite a few times, and then a bunch of books on it. I now often get asked what to read on the Psalms. Here goes:

Of the older commentaries, both Calvin and Delitzsch are excellent. Possibly hard to read, to the modern eye, but great and worth every minute you get in them.

Gerald Wilson
in NIVAC is outstanding. It only covers psalms 1-72, and he has died before writing enough on 73-150 for anyone to work over his notes, so the second NIVAC will be amazing if it is up to Wilson's standard. NIVAC can be a mixed series (though I love Enns on Exodus, Duguid on Ezekiel and Garland on Colossians, for example, some others have been totally frustrating / weak / poor / don't even give to your mother-in-law!). Wilson's NIVAC is brilliant. Preach through the 1st half of the Psalter sometime, following this. And by that time, pray that you'll have the skills to work on the 2nd half! His stuff on reading the psalms as Hebrew poetry is outstanding, and utterly vital reading...

Roy Clemets sermons ‘Songs of Experience’ are great (though obviously much of what he has written since then must be treated with real caution).

VanGemmeren in EBC pretty good & has made a major study of the Messiah in the Psalms, which will be thought-provoking even if not finding your full agreement.

Both the BST (Wilcock) and TOTC (Kidner) are missable. Wilcock is so mixed that I'd have to list the good ones and suggest you ignore the rest! Kidner is OK – often good in the text, but ignores the psalms' context.

Grogan’s ‘Prayer, Praise & Prophecy’ is really great - by far the best introduction to the Psalter as a book that is out there. Weak on how to read an individual psalm, issues of poetry etc, but great on shape and big picture.

Other good introductions to the Book of Psalms include McCann's 'Theological Introduction: Psalms as Torah' and Mays 'The Lord Reigns'. McCann is great on psalms 1&2 as paired introduction, telling us how to treat the Psalter (Book of Psalms). Mays is also good at seeing the Book's shape (though his Interpretation commentary is frustratingly weak - don't know why).

Tremper Longman III not at all bad on how to read the psalms – filling the gap I've just noted in Grogan - but he now disagrees with Wilson, Grogan et al on the Psalter's shape. And since Wilson's NIVAC is so great on reading psalms, this book now seems redundant.

Goldingay's new tome on 1-41 is also missable, I'm afraid. Maybe any later ones will be better...

At an academic level, Gerald Wilson’s PhD is great – just read the last 2 chapters to get an idea of how the Book of Psalms fits together. Brilliant!

Then there's my Masters, obviously...

(Off to camp from Friday morning, so don't pester me next week!)