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The Case for the Psalms

af N. T. Wright

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381768,429 (4.06)6
Widely regarded as the modern C. S. Lewis, N. T. Wright, one of the world's most trusted and popular Bible scholars and the bestselling author of Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope, presents a manifesto urging Christians to live and pray the Bible's Psalms in The Case for the Psalms. Wright seeks to reclaim the power of the Psalms, which were once at the core of prayer life. He argues that, by praying and living the Psalms, we enter into a worldview, a way of communing with God and knowing him more intimately, and receive a map by which we understand the contours and direction of our lives. For this reason, all Christians need to read, pray, sing, and live the Psalms. By providing the historical, literary, and spiritual contexts for reading these hymns from ancient Israel's songbook, The Case for the Psalms provides the tools for incorporating these divine poems into our sacred practices and into our spirituality itself.… (mere)
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    In the Shadow of Your Wings af Norbert Lohfink (MarthaJeanne)
    MarthaJeanne: Lohfink's chapter on the Psalms gives added impetus to Wright's case.
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N.T. Wright may be a New Testament scholar, but he makes it a point to read five Psalms a day because he believes the Psalms belong at the center of Christian worship and Christian thought. He makes his point in “The Case for the Psalms” (2013), and anyone who reads it will likely be swayed toward that same opinion.

We may assume the Psalms to be a random assortment of Hebrew poetry not unlike an anthology of notable American poetry or British poetry. Having read all 150 of them so many times, Wright thinks differently. He views them as deliberately ordered with common themes running through them.

The themes he focuses on in his book are time, space and matter, and he writes about how God connects with mankind through each.

About time, for example, Wright says, "This is what poetry and music themselves are there to do: to link the present to the past, to say, 'Remember,' to say, 'Blessed be God,' even when the tide is running strongly in the wrong direction."

As for space, Wright traces in the Psalms the Hebrews' evolving understanding of where God dwells, from a holy place, to the Temple, to all mankind, the soul of each human being.

"Matter matters," the author tells us. The Psalms celebrate not just God but God's whole creation.

Wrights quotes at length from many of the Psalms, and in the most personal chapter of his book describes how particular Psalms have spoken to him in significant ways through his life. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Dec 25, 2020 |
About 10 years ago I read an article on N.T. Wright on the Christianity Today site. The article, was published when Wright was dean of Lichfield Cathedral, and I remember Wright making a comment that if you want to understand his theology, you have to see him at worship.

This is Wright at worship. In this book he commends the Psalms as a prayer book and as something that gives shape and depth to corporate worship. His context as an Anglican theologian has meant that he is part of a communion that regularly reads the Psalms. He also reads the Psalms daily as part of his devotional practice. So while the title suggests that Wright is 'making the case for the Psalms' for churches and Christians who have let them fall into disuse, I found this book to be a personal account of his devotional life.

Wright argues that inhabiting the Psalms means marking time, space, and matter differently than our post-enlightenment culture does. Of course as a NT guy, N.T. has a lot to say about how Christ fits into the story, and hopes that are sketched in the Psalms (so does the New Testament), but he opens up a way to reorient ourselves around the Psalms and hear their cumulative message.

I especially appreciated the later chapters where Wright has talked about the joy he's experienced in his life reading various Psalms and hearing God speak to him through them. Great stuff! ( )
1 stem Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
Marvelous encouragement to not neglect use of the Psalms in worship, as well as daily and personal devotional life. A short book, but it is deep. Looks that intersection of sacred and personal time, space and matter, which is where we can find the timeless beauty of the Psalms. "I find it impossible ... to imagine a growing and maturing church or individual Christian doing without the Psalms. ...To worship without using the Psalms is to risk planting seeds that will never take root." ( )
1 stem Luke_Brown | Sep 10, 2016 |
A book that grew out of a lecture Wright gave on the Psalms (accessible on YouTube at http://youtu.be/aSb62xG9om0 ).

Wright investigates the Psalms as one who has meditated and sung them throughout his life (in the afterword he gets unusually personal with the role the Psalms played in his life) and as a scholar of Second Temple Judaism and the development of Christianity.

His case for the Psalms rests in three matters: time, space, and matter. He argues that the Psalms are where God's time and ours intersect, His space and ours interlock, and matter is infused with His power and glory. He describes Israel's covenantal monotheism and contrasts that with modern views heavily influenced by Epicureanism masquerading as scientism and Platonic deism.

In terms of time he shows how the Psalms anchor their understanding of the present in terms of the good things God has done in Creation and for Israel while looking forward to the fullness of God's rule and judgment. He expects the reader to return to a more concrete understanding of space in the Psalms and the claim that the Creator God, for a time, dwelt on a hill in Jerusalem called Zion, and all that implies. He speaks of a progression from the idea of God based in the Temple to access to God in the Torah; the Temple as a micro-cosmos and thus the creation as a Temple itself; he then shows how all of this leads quite nicely into first Jesus as the Temple and then Christians and the church as the Temple of the Holy Spirit. He also intends for the reader to consider a view of creation quite different than the one most have today, one in which God is not so far away but very much infusing everything with life and power, that as the Psalms say, all created things do praise God, and do so by functioning as God intended. Here again is the praise of things as they are but also the looking forward to the judgment in which all will be put to right and God's purposes for the creation restored to what He intended before the corruption of sin and death. All of this is "resurrection" in movement if not in word; as Hebrews saturated in the Psalms both Peter's and Paul's theologies do not seem as far out or strange but very much continuous with all that God clearly intended from the beginning. He also introduces the idea that God's instruction, Torah, is intended to transform a person even on a physical level, to lead to righteousness and a full life (Psalm 19, among others).

He concludes with concerns about the over-emphasis in modern Christianity on hymnody to the neglect of psalmody, and encourages believers to draw strength, growth, and transformation through meditation upon and singing and praying of the Psalms.

Very worthy of consideration. ( )
2 stem deusvitae | Jun 17, 2014 |
Many years ago I was sitting high up on a mountain with a Roman Catholic nun, and she began to quote from the Psalms. She said then that something was missing if I didn't know the Psalms well enough to quote from them when an occasion like that came.

Later I was on a tour of the Jewish temple in Geneva, and stopped to admire an attractive book. It turns out that it was a book of the Psalms. Our guide talked about the book for a moment and the Psalms, and told me I was missing something if I didn't pray them in Hebrew.

Now N. T. Wright calls me back to the Psalms, reminding me that I need them in English, in German and in Hebrew. (It's not going to be Hebrew this year. I'm working on Greek.) But the amazing thing is that whatever language or translation I read the Psalms in, they feel like old friends and so familiar, but always fresh.

This book is very worth reading, but even more important is reading the Psalms. Wright would agree with that. On the other hand if you are strongly against praying the Psalms regularly, you probably should avoid this book. You might find yourself going against your principles. ( )
3 stem MarthaJeanne | Feb 10, 2014 |
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Widely regarded as the modern C. S. Lewis, N. T. Wright, one of the world's most trusted and popular Bible scholars and the bestselling author of Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope, presents a manifesto urging Christians to live and pray the Bible's Psalms in The Case for the Psalms. Wright seeks to reclaim the power of the Psalms, which were once at the core of prayer life. He argues that, by praying and living the Psalms, we enter into a worldview, a way of communing with God and knowing him more intimately, and receive a map by which we understand the contours and direction of our lives. For this reason, all Christians need to read, pray, sing, and live the Psalms. By providing the historical, literary, and spiritual contexts for reading these hymns from ancient Israel's songbook, The Case for the Psalms provides the tools for incorporating these divine poems into our sacred practices and into our spirituality itself.

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