According to Hassell Bullock, “No collection of poems has ever exercised as much influence on the Western world as the Book of Psalms.” The attraction for Jews, Christians, and others is surely the personal element that pervades these poems, which describe the human situation in all its complexity. Though the Psalms are perhaps the most familiar portion of the Hebrew Bible, they are also among the most difficult to interpret. As a result, Bullock has created this guide to introduce students to the study and interpretation of the Psalms.
Encountering the Book of Psalms begins by examining literary and hermeneutical dimensions. Bullock discusses the nature, structure, and authorship of the Psalter and provides readers with specific principles for interpretation. He goes on to examine the use of Psalms in worship from the ancient world to the twenty-first century. Bullock further explores how the psalmists used historical reflection to serve their theological purposes, and he concludes by investigating different types of Psalms, including Psalms of praise, lament, and wisdom.
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The strengths of the book are many. First, the punctuation of the narrative with helpful charts and diagrams increases understanding and makes the material discussed more enjoyable. Second, while Bullock demonstrates an overall command of the Psalter, he deftly avoids overemphasizing a personal agenda in his interpretation. . . . Third and most importantly, the book does indeed function as a literary and theological introduction to the book of Psalms. Having completed this book, the student will have been introduced to the major theological and literary elements within the Psalter as well as major scholarly contributions on the subject.
—Bradley Embry, Review of Biblical Literature
A scholarly and quite detailed work. . . . It is a helpful, comprehensive, well-written and well-presented introduction to the Book of Psalms. Anyone beginning serious study of the Psalms will find Bullock’s work to be an excellent starting point.
—Jamie Grant, Themelios
This is an excellent summary of information about the various scholarly opinions about the Book of Psalms. . . . The Encountering series is designed to appeal to a modern reader. . . . An excellent introduction to scholarly and devotional approaches to the Psalms. A student or pastor building a personal library should seriously consider adding this volume to his Psalms shelf.
—L. Russ Bush, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
C. Hassell Bullock Franklin S. Dyrness Professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College. He is the author of An Introduction to the Old Testament Poetic Books and An Introduction to the Old Testament Poetic Books.