In his most ambitious undertaking, the late Samuel Terrien brings together a lifetime of scholarship on the Psalms. The commentary’s clear and insightful introduction considers these important subjects on the Psalms: their longevity and ecumenicity; their Near Eastern background; the Hebrew text and ancient versions; their music; their strophic structure; their literary genre; their theology; and their relation to the New Testament. Terrien elucidates the theological significance of these collected poems by putting readers in touch with the formal versatility and religious passion of the psalmists themselves. While he consistently engages in scientific exegesis before drawing theological conclusions, Terrien is careful to allow full expression to the theological and, especially, the doxological voice of these unmatched spiritual songs. The result is a commentary that provides a link between the archaic language of Psalms and the intellectual demands of modern thinking and spirituality.
Throughout his exposition Terrien shows great respect for the scribal testimony of the Jewish tradition, especially the consonants of the Masoretic text. He similarly displays great care in finding the most accurate meaning for Hebrew words of obscure origin, thus creating a meticulously reliable translation of Psalms. He also draws on many fruitful gains of structural analysis in discerning the strophic divisions within the Hebrew text. Often he finds unity of composition where earlier critics denied it. And for readers interested in specific aspects of translation and interpretation, Terrien has appended bibliographical lists of modern works on each psalm.
Samuel Terrien has willed us a legacy that is well worth studying for years to come. The crown of that legacy is his magnum opus on the Psalter….Rich in treasures for scholars and students alike, this commentary reflects a mind gifted with sharp intellect and a heart attuned to the cadences of the human and the divine.
—James A. Sanders, Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center, Claremont, California
I have always stood in awe of Samuel Terrien’s erudition and theological insight. As in all of his work, he is able in this volume to marry the sensitivities of a believer to the rigors of scholarly analysis in ways that are rich, insightful, and provocative….This commentary is a tour de force in contemporary Psalms scholarship and a fitting monument to one of the outstanding biblical scholars of the twentieth century.
—John A. Gettier, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut
Samuel Terrien (1911–2002) was Davenport Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Cognate Languages at Union Theological Seminary in New York. His many other books include The Iconography of Job through the Centuries: Artists as Biblical Interpreters, and The Elusive Presence: Toward a New Biblical Theology.