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Psalms Old and New: Exegesis, Intertextuality, and Hermeneutics

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Reading the book of Psalms in its original context is the crucial prerequisite for reading its citation and use in later interpretation, including the New Testament writings, argues Ben Witherington III. Here he offers pastors, teachers, and students an accessible commentary to the Psalms, as well as a reasoned consideration of how they were heard and read in early Christianity. By reading “forward and backward,” Witherington advances the scholarly discussion of intertextuality and opens a new avenue for biblical theology.

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“It is important to bear in mind that the Psalms, unlike various other parts of the OT, served four functions at once: (1) as material for singing in the temple and elsewhere; (2) as Scripture to be read in the temple and later in the synagogue (and memorized); (3) as prayers that could be recited privately or in corporate worship; and (4) as a source for teaching and preaching.” (Page 4)

“Nevertheless, this study seeks to go beyond where even some detailed studies of citations of and allusions to the Psalms go, to show how pervasive the influence of the language, thought world, and subject matter of the Psalms is on the NT in general.” (Page 11)

“Studying the lyrics to songs as if they were literal theological treatises is a mistake, and yet many commentators on the Psalms over the ages have fallen into this trap.” (Page xv)

“He composed them all through the spirit of prophecy which had been given to him from before the most High.’ (11QPsa 27:4–13, emphasis added).” (Page 30)

“One note more before we start: the earliest Christians seem more apt to use the language and imagery of the Psalms to describe and explain the Christ event, rather than doing some sort of exegesis of a psalm at length or in context. They used key phrases, little excerpts, to present the story of Jesus for the most part, rather than doing extended commentary.” (Page 38)

Ben Witherington III

Ben Witherington III (PhD, University of Durham) is Jean R. Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. A prominent evangelical scholar, he is also on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. Witherington has written over forty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. His other works include The Indelible Image, Women and the Genesis of ChristianityThe Gospel CodeA Week in the Life of Corinth and commentaries on the entire New Testament. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications and is a frequent contributor to Patheos and Beliefnet. Witherington is an elected member of the prestigious Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, a society dedicated to New Testament studies. He is a John Wesley Fellow for Life, a research fellow at Cambridge University and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the New Testament and the Institute for Biblical Research. He previously taught at institutions like Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. An ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and a popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings around the world. He has led numerous study tours through the lands of the Bible and is known for bringing the text to life through incisive historical and cultural analysis. Along with many interviews on radio and television networks across the country, Witherington has been seen in programs such as 60 Minutes, 20/20, Dateline and the Peter Jennings ABC special Jesus and Paul—The Word and the Witness


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    Digital list price: $30.99
    Save $6.00 (19%)