The Historical Superscriptions of Davidic Psalms: An Exegetical, Intertextual, and Methodological Analysis
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Religion, Old Testament Studies PhD
Richard M. Davidson
Jacques B. Doukhan
The significance of the historical superscriptions (h/ss) that refer to David’s life (Pss 3, 7, 18, 34, 51, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60, 63, 142) has been a matter of interest over the past century of Psalm Studies. An investigation into the structural and theological role1 of the thirteen Davidic h/ss and their psalms in the Psalter, as well as the role of David expressed in them reveals the nature of their origin, authorship, structural function, and theological import. While their historicity forms a large part of the discussion, at its core is the question of meaning. The literary and theological analysis of the h/ss and their psalms provides the basis for the conclusions about their function and meaning and provides a context through which comparisons are made. Out of its literary setting, the historiographical interests of these psalms are shown to go beyond an apology for David to express the significance of David’s experience as Yahweh’s anointed as detailed in the historical narratives.
This dissertation engages the topic of the h/ss in three ways: exegetically, intertextually, and methodologically. This study first analyzes the psalms individually to provide the foundational groundwork for a collective view of authorial indications and subsequent analysis. This is examined through the central themes that emerge from three interrelated features of poetic analysis: (1) structure, (2) imagery, and (3) parallelism. The recent gains in the analysis of biblical poetry have enabled readers to see the epistemic grounds for authorship in its literary features that emerge from the text as part of the exegetical process.
This is followed by an analysis of the stylistic and intertextual aspects found in the thirteen h/ss. After determining the intertextual links that emerge from the h/ss, a consideration of how to understand the intertextual links within a larger structural view is examined. These intertextual links are determined by analyzing linguistic connections in light of the structural concerns of the books of 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Chronicles. The stylistic and linguistic features of the h/ss reveal patterns from a comparison of the h/ss and the lexical and thematic parallels between adjacent psalms that engages a broadening focus on psalm groups, collections, and books of the Psalter.
Following this is an examination of the structural uses of ל and how the features of the h/ss point to Davidic authorship. The syntactical constructions of the h/ss are surveyed to demonstrate the veracity and originality of Davidic authorship. Also, generic and structural analysis are made to substantiate these claims. The final chapter provides a methodological critique of views on the h/ss and sets forth more fortuitous paths in developing a coherent method that is more comprehensive.
In conclusion, the h/ss have been shown to be original in a pre-exilic context, authentic, and are clearly connected to the psalms they introduce. The term דִוָדְל has been shown to refer to David as the author of the psalms and his clear involvement in the writing of the h/ss as author, liturgist, and king. The h/ss have been shown to be intentionally placed, theologically coherent by linking specific chapters in David’s life (his exile by Saul, his kinship during Yahweh’s blessing, and his kingship during Yahweh’s judgment/wrath), and to provide a broader narrative reading strategy for the Psalter as a book. The Davidic covenant has been shown to best reflect the context for reading the final form of the Psalter, as well as strengthening the general consensus that kingship is a central focus of the thematic structuring of the Psalter. The ultimate meaning of the h/ss is aligned with the development of Yahweh’s plan for his covenant people and promises
Bible. Psalms--Criticism, interpretation, etc.
Skinner, Jerome L., "The Historical Superscriptions of Davidic Psalms: An Exegetical, Intertextual, and Methodological Analysis" (2016). Dissertations. 1610.
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