This unit examines in detail the Book of Psalms within Israel’s historical, social and cultic environment and the broader Ancient Near East context. The structure, unity and classification of the psalms will be examined, together with the literary features of the psalms providing significant opportunities for the development of biblical exegesis skills. Consideration will be given to the theological contribution of the psalms to the Hebrew scriptures. Special attention will be given to the creative use of psalms in contemporary Christian worship and reflection.

Unit code: BA2703B

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

Unit discipline: Old Testament

Proposing College: Eva Burrows College

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Learning outcomes


Outline the unity of the psalms and their place within the Hebrew Scriptures


Demonstrate an understanding of the literary features of the psalms and the recurrent images/themes developed


Demonstrate an understanding of the contemporary scholarship concerning the development of key themes within the psalms


Use exegetical skills to analyse the structure, classification and theological contribution of particular psalms


Interpret the psalms within the culture of ancient Israel and apply this to personal and communal, contemporary Christian living


Develop a creative piece of work or a worship exercise based on a detailed exegesis of a psalm

Unit sequence

18 units from field B


Lectures, online forums, videos

Indicative Bibliography

  • Anderson, Bernhard W. Out of the depths: the Psalms speak for us today. 3rd edition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000. (Recommended for purchase)
  • Brueggemann, Walter. The Psalms and the Life of Faith. Minnesota: Fortress Press, 1995.
  • Brueggemann, Walter. Israel’s Praise: Doxology against Idolatry and Ideology. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.
  • Foster, Robert L. and David M. Howard (eds). My Words are Lovely: Studies in the Rhetoric of the Psalms. New York: T&T Clark, 2008.
  • Goldingay, John, Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41 Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006
  • Goldingay, John, Psalms: Volume 2: Psalms 42-89 Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007
  • Goldingay, John, Psalms: Volume 3: Psalms 90-150 Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008
  • Heine, Ronald E. Reading the Old Testament with the Ancient Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007
  • Jacobson, Rolf A. Soundings in the Theology of the Psalms: Perspectives and Methods in Contemporary Scholarship. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011
  • Johnson, Vivian L. David in Distress: His portrait through the historical Psalms. New York: T&T Clark, 2012.
  • Kraus, Hans-Joachim. Theology of the Psalms. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992.
  • Mays, James L. Preaching and Teaching the Psalms. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.
  • Motyer, Alec., Roots: Let the Old testament Speak. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2009.
  • Wenham, Gordon J. Psalms as Torah: reading biblical songs ethically. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

2500 words Topical essay

0 50.0

1000 words Creative piece of work based on exegesis, eg • Sermon • Magazine article • Series of prayers

0 25.0

1000 words Exegetical paper/online class presentation

0 25.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Nov, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2020-11-16 15:04:18 +1100