Old Testament Essays (Sep 2019)

“I Love Yahweh and I Believe in Him - Therefore I Shall Proclaim His Name”: How Psalm 116 Integrated and Reinterpreted Its Constituent Parts

  • Henk Potgieter

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 32, no. 2
pp. 398 – 411


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In studies on the biblical Psalms it is customary to ask why and for what purpose these poems came into existence. The present study departs from the observation that Psalm 116 can be regarded as an anthology which incorporated material from various other sources in the Hebrew Bible. The study aims to investigate the relationship between the various contributing constituents to the final form of Psalm 116. Therefore, it is necessary to add another question to those that are usually posed in studies on the Psalter, namely the “how?” question: How did the author/editors(s) use and incorporate different sources to come to the Psalm 116 as we know it in the Masoretic Text? The study argues that Psalm 116 is a prime example of the tendency in late post-exilic Psalmography to compile new poems by using existing material from the Hebrew Bible. Other examples of this style of writing are found inter alia in Pss 1; 19; 25; 34; 37; 86; and 119. This has been described in the past as an “anthological” style of composition. Very often in these psalms one can also detect a marked attempt to produce a symmetric pattern and also a marked influence from wisdom. All these tendencies are apparent in Ps 116