The Psalms of Solomon


by Penelope Robin Junkermann

[Penelope Junkermann is a third-year undergraduate in the M.Theol. Honours programme at the University of St. Andrews.–JRD]

This paper considers the important issues relating to the Psalms of Solomon. It discusses the original language and accepts the general view of the original language as Hebrew. However the issue is also raised as to whether knowing the original language of a text allows you to know more about it, or whether it simply clouds over what is actually extant.

Also considered is the probable date of composition or compilation of the Psalms of Solomon. It is concluded that on the basis of internal evidence it is reasonable to accept the general view of a date relating to Pompey’s control over Jerusalem. Atkinson’s alternative regarding Psalm of Solomon 17 is also considered. It is concluded that over all it is best to remain with the understanding of the Psalms relating to Pompey.

The status of the Psalms of Solomon as a pseudepigraphon are contemplated especially within criteria set out by Dr. Davila in a lecture on the subject. Between internal features and correlations with other Jewish texts it is concluded that the Psalms of Solomon were also Jewish. It is noted however that in terms of external Jewish signature features the Psalms of Solomon are lacking.

The potential reasons for the preservation of the text by Christians was briefly discussed with the conclusion that apart from their obvious interest in the messianic passages (which they appear to have left alone), there is no overt reason for their interest.

The social context of the Psalms of Solomon was considered, mainly with reference to the two traditional options: the Pharisees and the Essenes. It is concluded however that the psalms are as likely to have been compiled/written by another breakaway group as either of these two, and that just because these are the groups we know most of it is not necessary that they are responsible for this text.

New Testament parallels are briefly considered specifically as concerns Paul. The decision is made that while there is clearly a connection at least of ideology it is difficult to see how that connection came about. Although there are Old Testament parallels with the Psalms of Solomon it is noted by Wright that these are related to a certain level of dependency between the two.

The final conclusion is that many of the scholarly consensuses appear, on the whole, justified.

(c) 2002
Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author.

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