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Grohmann, Marianne, u. Yair Zakovitch [Hrsg.]
Jewish and Christian Approaches to Psalms.
Freiburg-Basel-Wien-Barcelona-Rom-New York: Herder 2009. 171 S. gr.8° = Herders Biblische Studien, 57. Geb. EUR 45,00. ISBN 978-3-451-29661-1.
This volume is a continuing work on a subject that has been treated in the book »Der Psalter in Judentum und Christentum«, ed. by E. Zenger (HBS 18) 1998. Jewish and Christian Bible scholarship about the Book of the Psalms has been developing in many ways since then. One place for debating »Jewish and Christian Ap-proaches to Psalms« has been the International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Vienna, in July 2007. The session named accordingly formed the basis for the articles collected in this new volume.
The eight articles, four written in English and four in German, show a great variety of approaches and subjects. Accurate exegetical introductions to several texts are combined with examples of their adaptation in Jewish and Christian exegetical and liturgical tradition. Differences between Jewish and Christian approaches to the texts and the consequences for variants in reading are named, as well as examples of reciprocal influences.
Because the titles already give a hint to what the contributions are about, they shall be mentioned briefly:
M. Grohmann, Jewish and Christian Approaches to Psalm 35 (13–29); E. Zenger, Innerbiblische und nachbiblische Leseweisen des Psalmenpaares 42/43 (31–52); A. Grund, »Eine Festung ist uns der Gott Jakobs«. Psalm 46 in jüdischen und christlichen Deutungen (57–76); S. Gillmayr-Bucher, Gefürchtet, bewundert und überwunden – Die »Anderen« in Psalm 73 (77–94); U. Sals, Of Worms and Worlds. Psalm 22:7, 90:4, and 85:11 in Light of Jewish-Christian Contacts in the Middle Ages (95–111); B. Janowski, Das Doppelgesicht der Zeit. Alttestamentliche Variationen zum Thema »Mythos und Geschichte« (113–139); M. Z. Brettler, A Jewish Approach to Psalm 111 (141–159); Y. Zakovitch, What Makes an Interpretation Jewish? Psalm 126 as an Example (161–171).
All contributions keep to the expressed aim of finding an answer to the following questions: What makes an approach Jewish or Christian? Is it the background of the author? Is it the context of the congregation of readers? Does it hint at the sources a biblical scholar uses? The answer shall be given on different levels, hermeneutically and through concrete examples of Jewish and Christian exegesis of individual psalms (7).
The complexity of the questions is corresponded to by the multilayeredness of the answers. The historical or literal context in which a text is received, the localization in research history, and the methodology or religious background of the exegete have an impact on the analysis of texts and lead to varying emphases or completely diverging results. One example that is treated in this volume can be mentioned, namely the question of the meaning of torah in general in Jewish and Christian exegesis and specifically in the approach of Brettler to Ps 111. One might be tempted to say that we can subsume all this under the plurality of approaches characteristic of psalm exegesis today. But especially the last two con- tributors give an answer to the question about what is particularly Jewish, which lacks no clarity and challenges non-Jewish commentators. Zakovitch states regarding inner-biblical exegesis: »Jewish exegesis throughout the ages has been attentive to inner-biblical relationships because it turned a sensitive ear to the Hebrew text. The great majority of Jewish commentators read the Bible in its original language, Hebrew, and not in its Greek, Latin, or other translations. … The modern Jewish commentator, for whom the treasures of Hebrew biblical exegesis are accessible, can easily find the references to these inner-biblical connections and use them as stepping-stones for further investigation: to determine whether these connections were intentional, to discover the direction of relationship (the diachronic aspect of interpretative work), and offer an explanation for the purpose behind relationship« (169; cf. also Brettler, 153). In short: The difference lies in the command of Hebrew in its various layers and therefore the ability to make use of the Jewish exegetical tradition.
Taking up this challenge, the authors of this collection of articles want to and successfully do encourage us scholars to expose ourselves to exegetical traditions outside our own – in order to come to know aspects of the biblical text of which we had been previously unaware.