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The Psalms in Theological Use: On Incommensurability and Mutuality

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Chapter Summary

The Psalms have "theological use" both through their liturgical repetition and through their didactic authority as a way of shaping, schooling, and nurturing the singing, learning community of faith in a peculiar way. The work of the Psalter is to trope Israel's imagination with reference to a God who is odd and incomparable. Specifically, the God to whom Israel's life is endlessly referred in the Psalter is offered as "incomparable", both in power (the accent of the hymns) and in solidarity. This chapter considers the subversive alternative offer of reality as relationship in three rubrics: "genre analysis", "institutional thematization", and finally "the canonical whole". It discusses the way in which the God of Israel is known to be incommensurate and mutual. The chapter considers how the genre analysis of Hermann Gunkel, Claus Westermann, and Erhard Gerstenberger may serve in discerning the God of Israel as enigmatically incommensurate and mutual.

Keywords: Claus Westermann; Erhard Gerstenberger; God of Israel; Hermann Gunkel; Psalms; Psalter; theological use



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