Sunday, November 09, 2008

The theme (continued)

Richard has posted a second summary of the theme of the Psalter:
Yahweh is King, Yahweh will rule through his Davidic king, this king will come and conquer all nations, all nations shall praise Yahweh.
In my previous post on this subject, you might have noticed that I was reaching for a new definition of Christ. The question there was: why it is that there is no trumping of tradition by the words of Jesus in the letter to the Hebrews? The letter to the Hebrews uses the Scripture to show what was already in them as the word of Christ that anticipated the priesthood of the son Jesus. Not once does Hebrews use the words of Jesus from the days of his flesh. In other words, Jesus in Hebrews is not treated as a typical prophet. Instead, the words of Scripture are treated as his words, the words of the son, in response to and in conversation with the words of his Father.

Consider for a moment the opening of Hebrews: that God has spoken in times past, but that in these last days he has spoken to us by a son, the heir of all things, through whom he made the word, the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person, upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.

Why would the writer then not write a single word that quoted the human Jesus? Because - and here I stretch again - the son spoke through his priesthood and sacrifice more than could be contained even by quoting his verba ipsissima. (So much for red-letter Bibles).

Further, most of the words of the son and the father in Hebrews come from the Psalter plus a few from 1 Samuel and from Isaiah. And what are the implications of this? That the long tradition of Israel already contained in its own Scriptures the essential aspect of this word. Otherwise how could the arc of the homily reach its verdict and encourage its hearers? There could be no Jesus without the preparation from the psalms and the prophets. And there could be no psalter without the tradition of the patriarchs and Moses, the very thing we are considering in the translation of the cluster of psalms 103-106.

So I must agree with Richard - but I want to see that definition teased out further. What is the nature of the king? How does the rule of Christ the king manifest itself in our lives? What is the nature of conquest? What is the nature of the praise of the nations? Can we find this nature and the word of Christ in the tradition? Is this how Jesus himself learned of his mission and calling? Or - if that is too big a question, can we see into the New Testament writers' reading of the tradition? (Notice for instance the pronoun 'he' in Hebrews 10:5 where the words of Psalm 40 (LXX 39) are read as words of Christ. )

There are reasons for my questions. What I have come to know, or should I say the Giver of Life whom I have come to know, does not behave or teach the way I was taught. I can't put my reasons into words at this time. Secundus has tried, but he is currently asleep, hopefully learning in his dreams.


psalterium said...

Hi Bob, you may be interested in this.

Bob MacDonald said...

Yes - thanks - it is a good note and I hope will direct my next structural move - to look at the royal psalms.

There is a strong relationship between Isaiah 40 ff and Book IV of the psalter. Not one I have had the opportunity to follow yet.

psalterium said...

Depending on the direction you are taking, John Eaton's Kingship and the Psalms will be worth a look. I would see most of the Psalms as being Royal.

Also try this.

Bob MacDonald said...

Thanks - I have been very impressed with Mays' work. If most of the psalms are royal, I will have a long task to find the decomposition. I agree that the psalms can all find applicability to our King. Have you seen the 5 volume history of the allegorical and typological interpretations in this: Commentary on the Psalms from primitive and mediaeval writers : and from the various office-books and hymns of the Roman, Mozarabic, Ambrosian, Gallican, Greek, Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac rites / by J.M. Neale and R.F. Littledale.

It is a wonderful piece of work which I found in the local library at UVIC. Some day I will go back to it - but first I must better load my own cranium and spirit with the primary texts.